Georgia (3-4) started out its matchup with Chattanooga (3-6) shooting 59.4 percent from the field in the first half. Junior forward Nemanja Djurisic led the Dawgs in scoring the first half with 14, while sophomore Kenny Gaines added nine of his own. Gaines got Georgia on the board just 18 seconds into the game when he knocked down a 3-pointer to put the Dawgs out in front. Georgia not only got out to a hot start offensively, but defensively as well.
"We played really well in the first half, especially defensively," said Georgia head coach Mark Fox. "I thought we came in with a good approach, a good plan and really executed it really well in the first half."
After the first official timeout, Juwan Parker extended the Dawgs' lead to 23-9 with a layup assisted by Djurisic. Parker finished the game with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists. Distributing the ball is an area Georgia has greatly emphasized in the past few weeks.
"That was one of our deficiencies; we weren't getting enough assists," Parker said. "Moving the ball, getting everybody involved; it really helps."
Djurisic finished the game with 14 points and five rebounds. Georgia as a team outrebounded Chattanooga 51-38. Whether that was a result of size or effort, Djurisic said it was a sign of much-needed improvement.
"I think we have to improve the rebounding, playing together, playing unselfish like we did tonight," Djurisic said. "[We're] just doing a lot of things we didn't do in the past tournament we had."
It was in the final 10 minutes of the first half that Georgia began to gain its unstoppable momentum. Chattanooga, however, experienced a different situation. Chattanooga went from the 10:55 mark until the 5:52 mark without scoring a single basket. This gave the Dawgs a chance to jump out to a 36-15 lead. By that point, it was all but too late.
"I was concerned, 'would we play well with the lead?'," Fox said. "I thought in the first half we played the back end of the first half pretty well with the lead."
Georgia carried that momentum into the locker room at halftime where it held a 47-17 lead thanks to Parker's 3 at the buzzer.
The Dawgs had no problem carrying their first half offensive success over to the second half either. Georgia got out to an early start with a layup from Brandon Morris, assisted by Cameron Forte to put the Dawgs up 49-17 just 20 seconds into the second half.
Forte got his own chance to score a couple of minutes later when Gaines found him streaking to the basket for a layup to put the Dawgs up 53-17 with 17:44 left to play. Forte finished the game with eight points, while Gaines finished with 10 and four assists.
Chattanooga showed some effort with 14:39 left to play as Gee McGhee hit a layup followed by a 3-pointer from Eric Robertson to cut the Dawgs' lead to 56-28.
The large lead gave a few of Georgia's younger players a chance to get in the game. Freshman guard J.J. Frazier found his way to the hole for a layup to put the Dawgs up 69-38 with 9:37 left on the clock. Fellow freshman Kenny Paul Geno also got himself on the board with a made free throw at the 7:23 mark and a 3 with just under seven minutes left in the game to give Georgia a 77-43 lead.
"The second half we were able to get a lot of guys time that they needed," Fox said. "A little disjointed rotation there, but a really good night for us."
John Cannon found his stroke in the second half, too. The sophomore out of Burnsville, N.C. found the hole on back-to-back possessions to give Georgia an 81-45 lead with 5:15 left to play in the game.
Frazier's acrobatic layup may have been the highlight of the game's final four minutes. He put his stamp on his minutes on the floor with a soaring lay-in from the middle of the lane to give Georgia an 83-49 lead. Frazier and the Bulldogs had no problem sealing the victory after that. It was a night where Georgia could seem to do no wrong offensively.
"We try to emphasize playing more team basketball instead of looking for your shot first," Gaines said. "I feel like we were doing a pretty good job of that. We've been practicing that a lot and it showed up in the game."
Georgia will be back in action as it takes on Lipscomb on Dec. 14 at 4 p.m. in Stegeman Coliseum.