Three days after beating No. 16 Gonzaga, Georgia trailed Jacksonville by double digits with seven minutes left in the first half in Stegeman Coliseum. Then the team that slayed the ‘Zags re-emerged.
The Bulldogs (8-1) scored on 12 of 14 possessions and closed the first half on a 27-4 run on the way to a 93-77 victory in front of an announced crowd of 5,356.
“We were all fatigued from the Gonzaga game,” sophomore Mike Mercer said. “You could tell we came in lackadaisical and a little sore, and it took us a while to work out way into the game.”
The win didn’t come without a cost. Junior point guard Sundiata Gaines left after playing just seven minutes in the first half due to a sprained right ankle and did not return. The injury did not require an X-ray, but he is questionable for Friday’s 7 p.m. game against Georgia Tech.
“It’ll be a game-time decision,” said Gaines, who stepped on the foot of a Jacksonville player while pursuing a loose ball. “I’ll have treatment every day and do as much as I can to get back.”
Mercer auditioned for the point guard spot Tuesday with 11 assists, a career-high and four off the school’s single-game record. He also had a career-high eight rebounds and six turnovers to go along with 21 points.
“I’ve always played point guard growing up, and I think I did a good job coming in today and helping my team win in whatever way possible,” he said
Levi Stukes led the Bulldogs with a season-high 27 points, his third straight game of 20 or more, and kept up his torrid 3-point shooting. He hit 7-of-9 from behind the line, including 4-of-4 in the second half, to increase his 3-point shooting percentage to 63 percent this season.
“He’s really in the groove right now,” Georgia coach Dennis Felton said.
Jacksonville, which fell to 4-7, was led by Lehmon Colbert’s 18 points
“I thought we played hard against a very good team who should be ranked in the Top 25,” Dolphins coach Cliff Warren said. “We were able to get on them early, but Georgia did a good job of staying poised and they made some shots.”