The Georgia men’s basketball team took a nine-point lead into halftime before scoring a season-low 21 points in the second half in falling 57-51 to Cincinnati Friday night in Stegeman Coliseum as part of the Big East/SEC Challenge.
The Dawgs (4-4) led the Bearcats 30-21 at the intermission, with that 21-point UC output tied for a season-low by a Georgia opponent in a first half this season. But Georgia’s offensive struggles in the second half – shooting just 6-of-21 from the floor after the break – allowed Cincinnati to mount the comeback.
Freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led Georgia with 16 points as the freshman has now scored in double figures in each game of his short college career. He was followed by Gerald Robinson’s 12 points. For Cincinnati, Sean Kilpatrick (22) and Dion Dixon (19) combined to lead the comeback charge for the visitors, with the pair hitting a combined eight three-pointers on the night including six in the second half.
“That was a really hard-fought, physical basketball game,” said coach Mark Fox. “Cincinnati is a really good, strong team and they fought really hard and wore us down in the second half. We competed hard but we just couldn’t make enough plays to win the game.”
“They’re an older, stronger, and more mature team than we are and you really have to give their defense a lot of credit,” Fox said. “They were very strong in the second half and they kept up their intensity.”
Georgia went down 9-3 early before erupting for an 11-0 run to pull in front by five, 14-9, with 9:03 left in the first half. Cincinnati failed to score for over nine minutes, finally snapping that drought with a three from Kilpatrick with 6:44 remaining.
A free throw by Nemanja Djurisic with 2:26 to go in the period gave Georgia its first double-digit lead of the night at 10, 27-17, and the Dawgs went up by their largest margin of 11 at 30-19 with 39 seconds left. Kilpatrick closed the half with a jumper to make the Georgia lead nine, 30-21, at intermission.
With Georgia again up 11 with 17:59 to go in the contest, Cincinnati rattled off a 17-4 run to regain the lead by two, 40-38, with 10:09 to play. Dixon’s sharp shooting from long range gave the Bearcats a six-point lead, 49-43, with 4:49 left and Kilpatrick added a three of his own down the stretch to seal it.
Cincinnati outscored the Dawgs by 15 after halftime in earning the 57-51 road win, moving to 5-2 on the year.
Georgia shot 17-for-47 on the night for a 36-percent clip, and was just 3-14 from three-point range. Caldwell-Pope padded his line with seven rebounds and four steals, while Marcus Thornton led UGA on the glass with eight rebounds.
Tonight marked the first meeting between these programs in their histories, as the Bulldogs are now 10-15 against members of the Big East. Georgia had been on the road for its previous four games and had not played in Stegeman Coliseum since Nov. 16 before tonight.
Georgia is back in action next Wed., Dec. 7 when it hosts in-state rival Georgia Tech for a 7 p.m. tip on Fox Sports Net.