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The debut of Mark Fox’s new triangle offense met with its share of missteps, but the Bulldogs managed to sink just enough shots to give Georgia’s new head coach his first win, a 67-59 win over New Orleans, and provide a some positive momentum going forward.
“It’s all brand new to us, but we’re figuring it out,” point guard Dustin Ware said. “We did a lot of good things, a lot of bad things, but we’ll learn from it, just getting out there and learning from your mistakes and building and getting better.”
Trey Thompkins led all scorers with 25 points, but got little help from the rest of the offense. New Orleans was paced by Charles Carmouche’s 20 points, while former Georgia player Billy Humphrey added 11 for the Privateers.
Fox admitted he wasn’t expecting much offensively in the Bulldogs’ opener, and that’s about what he got in the first half.
Georgia connected on just 10-of-24 shots in the first half and got off to a sluggish start after the break. New Orleans used an 11-4 run to open the second half to take a five-point lead with 16:24 to play.
But after the inconsistent start to the game, the Bulldogs finally found their rhythm. Thompkins scored on back-to-back possessions and Georgia regained control of the game down the stretch.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” said Thompkins, who added 12 rebounds to go with his game-high 25 points. “New Orleans came with their best punch, and all we had to do was execute. That’s all we tried to do, and I’m happy our team was successful.”
New Orleans kept it close down the stretch, closing to within two with 2:46 to play, but could never regain the lead. Ricky McPhee closed the door on the comeback attempt by draining a 3 with 2:21 to play, and the Bulldogs cruised from there.
“Rick’s got a lot of clutch in him,” Thompkins said. “I had a feeling that was going in, and I didn’t even crash the glass on that one.”
Still, the game was a whole lot of Thompkins and little else, which leaves some concerns about where Georgia will find a consistent alternative to its stellar sophomore offensively.
It didn’t help that Ware and Travis Leslie each found themselves in early foul trouble, and the offensive effort aside from Thompkins was inconsistent at best.
Georgia shot 45 percent from the field, but that was buoyed by Thompkins’ 7-of-11 effort. The rest of the team connected on just 39 percent of its shots and was 1-of-11 from 3-point range.
“Trey needs help scoring the ball,” Fox said. “We need to develop other people that can consistently score, but it might be by committee. This team is not as offensively gifted as some, so we’re going to have to be very diligent in how we play.”
Jeremy Price offered Georgia’s biggest punch aside from Thompkins, scoring 12 in the game, while McPhee’s late 3 was the team’s only longball that didn’t come from Thompkins. McPhee and Chris Barnes each scored six points in the game.
It was enough to win, Ware said, and that’s a good first step. But the lesson from Fox’s debut was that the win was a building block, but the Bulldogs are still far from a complete team.
“We can’t just rely on Trey even though he is a great player,” Ware said. “We’re going to have other guys start stepping up as the season goes on and the offense gets more second nature to everybody. But Trey played well tonight, and he carried us.”