partlycloudy
Monday August 3rd, 2015 12:43AM

Struggling Georgia basketball to open SEC play vs. Missouri

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA -- Georgia has used better balance to more than make up for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's scoring.

Caldwell-Pope's rebounding and defense, however, have proved to be more difficult to replace for Georgia, which plays at No. 21 Missouri on Wednesday night in its Southeastern Conference opener.

Caldwell-Pope left Georgia following his sophomore season and was the No. 8 overall pick in the NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons.

Coach Mark Fox said everyone talked about the challenge of replacing Caldwell-Pope's team-leading average of 18.5 points per game last season. Scoring hasn't been the problem.

"I think the thing that has been disappointing about our team and has led to inconsistent performance has been the inconsistency of our defense and rebounding," Fox said. "We have not been really consistently effective in those two areas and that's critical to win."

Georgia (6-6) has lost back to back games to Colorado and George Washington by double-digit margins.

The surprise is Georgia's scoring and shooting have improved.

"We're a better offensive this year than we were last year," Fox said Monday. "We're a team that has more people scoring. We're more efficient. I think you don't quite replace the No. 8 pick in the draft, but we felt like by committee we'd be a better offensive team. I think that's proven to be fairly true."

Georgia is averaging 71.8 points per game, a big jump from last season's 60.8 per game. The Bulldogs' field-goal percentage is dramatically better at 48.1, up from 40.8 percent.

Two sophomore guards, Charles Mann (13.0) and Kenny Gaines (11.5) are leading Georgia's balanced scoring. Forward Nemanja Djurisic (10.8) has made 15 of 29 3-pointers.

Caldwell-Pope also led Georgia with 7.1 rebounds per game last season.

"Where we have not replaced Kentavious is on the glass," Fox said. "He was our leading rebounder two years in a row. We have not replaced him at the defensive end. We have not replaced him on the glass."

Georgia ranks 12th in the SEC with its average of 69.6 points allowed. It also ranks 12th in the league in rebounds.

Fox said Georgia must play tougher.

"I think in any sport - if it is football - you have to be good in the trenches to win and it's very similar in basketball," Fox said. "You have to be very good in the dirty work areas and we have not been and this is probably the first group I've ever had that has not been as consistent there.

"This group has to improve there and the good news is these are areas that can be fixed."

Georgia is 6-0 when it has outrebounded opponents.

Fox is 71-69 in his fifth season at Georgia. The Bulldogs finished 15-17 overall and 9-9 in the SEC last season. It was only the third Georgia team in 10 years to finish .500 or better in the SEC.

Georgia is coming off a 73-55 loss to George Washington. Sophomore forward Cameron Forte set career highs with 14 points and eight rebounds, but still the Bulldogs were held to their season scoring low.

Fox's father, Raymond Lewis Fox died Saturday from lung disease. He was 78.

Fox attended a memorial service for his father on Tuesday in Garden City, Kan., before joining his team for Wednesday night's game.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
2014 Top 10: Looking back at the top sports stories of the year
It was another year for the record books in 2014, mostly for the right reasons -- state championships, new challenges and new stars taking their turn to shine. But there were also plenty of big stories that reminded us that sports -- like life -- isn
11:55PM ( 7 months ago )
NASCAR K&N Pro Series schedules set for 2015
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - NASCAR announced recently the 2015 schedules for its top developmental regional touring series, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
2:00PM ( 7 months ago )
Lanierland boys final: Johnson makes history with win over Red Elephants <b> (VIDEO) </b>
Ever the aggressor on the court, Johnson
8:55AM ( 7 months ago )
Sports
Jackets, Mississippi St. clash in Orange Bowl
No. 10 Georgia Tech has the nation's second-ranked rushing offense. No. 8 Mississippi State has held seven of its 12 opponents under 125 yards on the ground.
5:04PM ( 7 months ago )
Ole Miss defense braces for TCU offense in Peach Bowl
Mississippi and TCU were part of the playoffs story in 2014. Each team was part of the chase. Each team fell short of the coveted semifinals.
5:01PM ( 7 months ago )
Kiffin shining again after season of redemption
Lane Kiffin was modest in his goals and complimentary about the team he'll be facing in the Sugar Bowl. He went on and on about how much he's learned from Nick Saban, while insisting it's no big deal when his boss yells at him. Very un-Kiffin-like, you might say.
11:02PM ( 7 months ago )
College Sports
Matt Kenseth wins at Pocono
Matt Kenseth, the unexpected winner of Sunday’s Windows 10 400 at Pocono Raceway, had to do a double take.
By Reid Spencer-NASCAR Wire Service
8:26PM ( 4 hours ago )
Wisler struggles in Phillies rout of Braves
It was a night to forget for rookie Matt Wisler and the Atlanta Braves.
By The Associated Press
8:06AM ( 16 hours ago )
Kauffman presser raises more questions
A brief statement by Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman raised more questions than it provided answers about the future of MWR.
By Reid Spencer-NASCAR Wire Service
8:00AM ( 16 hours ago )
Ryan Blaney holds on for overtime Xfinity win at Iowa
As the cautions — and wreckage — piled up, Ryan Blaney didn’t blink.
By Rob Gray - NASCAR Wire Service
12:17AM ( 1 day ago )
VIDEO: Prep football's version of 'Midnight Madness' signals that season is almost here
Today, the state's teams took one more giant step closer to real games, as they were allowed to don pands in practice for the first time, as "fall" practice got underway...
11:58PM ( 1 day ago )