Gaines, Mann help ’Dogs overcome shooting
by Charles Odum
Associated Press Sports Writer
January 12, 2014 12:36 AM | 763 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kenny Gaines hit four 3-pointers and scored a career-high 22 points in Georgia’s win over Alabama on Saturday.
<BR>UGA Sports Communications
Kenny Gaines hit four 3-pointers and scored a career-high 22 points in Georgia’s win over Alabama on Saturday.
UGA Sports Communications
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ATHENS — Charles Mann said there was an important lesson in Georgia’s ability to overcome their poor shooting against Alabama.

“Defense wins games,” Mann said.

Mann and Kenny Gaines each scored 22 points and Georgia overcame its worst shooting performance of the season to beat Alabama 66-58 on Saturday.

Georgia (8-6, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) made only 15 of 46 shots from the field (32.6 percent). Alabama (7-8, 1-1) also struggled, making only 36.5 percent of its shots (19 of 52).

“We talked about trying to play a determined 40 minutes and we had to do that to beat a good Alabama team,” said Georgia coach Mark Fox. “They really guarded us and we couldn’t score, but we guarded them also and that certainly was the difference in the game.”

Georgia has won its first two SEC games for the first time in 12 years. The Bulldogs matched their season high with 10 blocked shots and claimed a 41-32 advantage in rebounds.

“I’ve been very critical of our defense and rebounding,” Fox said. “I didn’t think we played with very much maturity offensively, but it’s rewarding to see we made progress in those two other areas.”

Georgia is 8-0 when it has outrebounded its opponent.

Gaines, who made four of seven 3-pointers, set a career scoring high.

“I was feeling it,” Gaines said. “It was going in, so I figured I would just let it fly.”

Mann, who made 13 of 17 free throws, finished two points below his career high. No other Georgia player scored in double figures.

Trevor Releford led Alabama with 17 points, including 15 in the second half. Releford made 7 of 15 shots, including only one of his eight 3-point attempts.

“A guy like that, you’re not going to stop him,” Fox said. “You only hope to contain him. ... We did a nice job on him in the first half. It was one of the reasons we were ahead.”

Rodney Cooper had 15 and Shannon Hale had 14 for the Crimson Tide.

Georgia outscored Alabama 31-16 at the free-throw line.

“All credit goes to Georgia,” Cooper said. “They played tough, got to the foul line and made their free throws.”

Alabama beat Vanderbilt in its SEC opener.

“We will have to go watch film now and just try to get better from this,” Cooper said. “We really just have to come together as a team as we continue with SEC play.”

The Bulldogs avoided a letdown after an upset of No. 21 Missouri in their SEC opener Wednesday.

Fox said he told his players they could “throw away” the win at Missouri “if we came out here today and laid an egg.”

“I was really proud that we backed up Wednesday’s win with another one. ... This is the first time that I’ve thought we’ve handled success fairly well. Now we have to keep moving forward and keep getting better because we can really improve as a team.”

Marcus Thornton scored the first basket of the second half to give Georgia its biggest lead at 41-28.

Releford regrouped after scoring only two points in the first half to help lead Alabama’s comeback attempt. His layup with 7:37 remaining cut Georgia’s lead to 46-43. The Crimson Tide would come no closer than that.

The Bulldogs, who scored their next nine points on free throws, quickly pushed the lead back to seven points.

The first half was a scoring showdown between Gaines and Hale. Gaines made four 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes and had 16 points at the break. Hale, a freshman averaging 5.3 points per game, scored 11 of Alabama’s first 13 points and added a late basket for 13 points in the half.

There were four ties in the half, the last at 15-15. Georgia then pulled away with a 14-4 run to lead 29-19 before stretching the halftime advantage to 11 points at 34-23.

Thornton had nine points, eight rebounds and a career-high five blocks. Georgia blocked 10 shots.

Georgia’s previous worst field-goal percentage for a game was 38.3 percent in a 58-49 win over Gardner-Webb.

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