After close wins this season over the likes of Mississippi Valley State, Manhattan and Saint Louis, coach Mark Fox had said his team wasn't playing complete games. In saying that, Fox wanted to see his team close out an opponent in convincing fashion.
Against High Point, Fox got the dominating win he was looking for. Sure, High Point is not a very good team. But that does not matter. Georgia held the Panthers to 20 percent shooting (12-58), forced 19 turnovers and didn't allow a converted field goal over the final eight minutes of the second half. I'm not sure if the Bulldogs defensive effort deserves all the credit, but that's still an impressive showing regardless of the opponent.
This kind of win was crucial for a team still learning to win. Georgia hasn't played with a lead all that often the past few seasons, so I think winning close games and also finishing off opponents early is something this team had to learn how to do. The check mark was already in place for close wins. Now, not letting a team back in the game once a big lead was established can be nixed as well.
Another reason for the blowout: Georgia committed only six turnovers. And this is even more impressive considering how much Fox played lesser-used players.
Also: Junior guard Gerald Robinson got back on track Tuesday night, scoring a game-high 21 points on a near perfect 9-of-10 shooting. He was able to get to the rim at will, scoring most of his points on easy layups. He also hit a 3 and dished out two assists. This is the Gerald Robinson-type of game Georgia needs if the Bulldogs are going to be a factor in the SEC. The past few games, Gerald has shot poorly and been bogged down by poor decisions, which led to turnovers. He used the High Point game to get back going.
Also: Freshmen Marcus Thornton and Donte Williams each played 18 minutes. Sherrard Brantley logged 17. Conner Nolte played 16, while Vincent Williams saw 12 minutes of action. Heck, even walk-on Matt Bucklin played for six minutes. Fox was extremely happy to get all these guys extended minutes, especially Thornton, Brantley and Williams.
Now, the game wasn't all berries and cream for Georgia.
The Bulldogs led at halftime by only 10 points. High Point outrebounded Georgia 25-16 in the opening period, despite a severe lack of size. Fox called his team out after the game, saying, ""I don't think we played very well, to be honest with you, early. We still have some mental errors… We just weren't mentally dialed in early."
Also: Travis Leslie is still struggling to score. He finished 2-of-8 with only five points. He is supposed to be the clear-cut second banana on this team. At this point, Robinson seems to be the most viable second threat to accompany Trey Thompkins. A few key stats for Leslie: He had four assists and no turnovers. He also added six rebounds. Outside of scoring, Leslie is playing OK. But he's shot poorly this year, and isn't getting as many easy layups and dunks as last season.
The Good: Younger players got to see the court for extended runs. Fox would like to be able to call on Marcus Thorton (four points) and Donte Williams (four points, eight rebounds) in conference play, so getting them confidence building playing time such as this should pay off.
Better: Gerald Robinson is rolling again.
Best: Georgia finally blew out a team it was supposed to. This was the Bulldogs first win by a double-digit margin this season.
The Bad: Mental errors in the first half led to a sluggish start. Silver Lining: Georgia completely controlled the first five minutes of the second half, erasing any chance High Point had to win.
Worse: Junior Travis Leslie's woes continued from the field. Silver Lining: He didn't force the action. Instead, he dished out assists, didn't hurt the team with any turnovers and still looked great on the boards.
Frustrating: The free throw shooting. Georgia finished 16-of-29 (55 percent), continuing a run of poor shooting from the charity stripe. The Silver Lining: None.
Player of the Game: Gerald Robinson (21 points, 9-of-10 shooting, two assists).
Honorable Mention: Connor Nolte (11 points, 4-of-4 shooting, 2-for-2 from 3). Trey Thompkins (15 points, five rebounds, two blocks).
Next up: Georgia travels to Macon to play Mercer Thursday. Georgia is now 8-2, riding a five game win streak. The Mercer Bears are 3-7.