The Little Things Add Up

ATHENS – While this version of the Georgia basketball team is known for it's scoring power, it's the little things that helped the Bulldogs beat Kentucky.

And it's those same little things that may lead to bigger wins and accomplishments down the road.

You know, the less glamorous aspects of basketball—defending and free throw shooting.

That's what coach Mark Fox has been preaching to his team since last season ended. Sure, Travis Leslie is going to slam a spectacular dunk quite often. But Fox reminds him of the unspectacular job he needs to do.

Sure, Trey Thompkins has an extremely polished offensive repertoire. But Fox remind him of the little things, too. The little things, as Fox often reminds his team, is what will win Georgia games.

"Our main thing is defending," guard Gerald Robinson said. "That's what we're going into every game doing. Offense can be off any night. I guess we haven't played as well offensively all season as we did (against) Kentucky. So the main thing is going in to defend. We can do that every game."

Excelling on defense helped Georgia capture the conference opener against Kentucky. The Wildcats were held to 38 percent shooting, including 6-of-20 from the 3-point line.

Over the final nine minutes of the game—when it mattered most—Georgia held Kentucky to 14 points.

"You just have to man up and defend," Robinson said. "You have to guard your man. You know, playing basketball you need help and things like that. But what it all comes down to is man-on-man. Who can guard their man and stop your man."

Thompkins added: "Kentucky is a great team. We knew that if we were going to beat them that we were going to have to lock up defensively. We would have to try to contain them."

On the other end of the floor, Georgia converted its free throws at an unprecedented clip. Entering the game, the Bulldogs were shooting under 65 percent as a team this season.

The poor shooting at the charity stripe was frustrating, especially considering the Bulldogs shot over 70 percent—second best in the SEC—as a team last season.

Against Kentucky, Georgia wasn't hampered at the line. In fact, free throw shooting was key in gaining and keeping the lead.

"We've been working on them," Fox said. "We've been spending some time correcting some things, and tonight we shot the ball in. That was certainly a big part of it."

Georgia shot 30-of-34 at the line against Kentucky, good enough for 88 percent.

"We shoot free throws a lot after practice," Leslie said. "Before we leave practice (Fox) makes us shoot a lot of free throws. "Yeah, we have to make a certain amount. That's what's helping us out."

So while Georgia can score in an impressive amount of ways, the ability to score from the line drawn 15 feet from the bucket while the clock is not ticking is just as important.

And when the offense goes stale, defending is the key to riding out the low moments.

Currently sitting 12-2, Georgia players exude a subtle character: enjoy the little things. They may add up to bigger ones down the road.


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