Georgia beats Chattanooga 86-55
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) Kenny Gaines returned from Georgia's trip to New York for the NIT Season Tip-Off and headed to the gym.
He needed to improve his shooting touch. It had been rusty since missing a month of the preseason due to illness.
Gaines found the shooting touch that led him to become an All-SEC honorable mention last season in the Bulldogs' 86-55 win at Chattanooga on Tuesday.
Gaines led all players with 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting, including 5-of-6 from behind the 3-point line.
''It was very enlightening,'' Gaines said. ''I'd been struggling this year. I'm glad to see the ball go in and get some confidence.''
Gaines said he'd been shooting 600-700 shots outside of practice. Coaches said they noticed his shot seemed flat and often bounced off the front of the rim. He entered Tuesday's game 5 of 22 from beyond the arc and 21 of 51 from the floor.
''He let the game come to him and he looked like the old Kenny Gaines,'' Georgia coach Mark Fox said. ''It's one thing to shoot 500 shots. It's another thing to shoot one shot correctly 500 times.
''We're probably going to have to lock the doors on him so he doesn't wear himself out.''
Georgia junior Marcus Thornton balanced Gaines' outside attack with 24 points on 10-of-11 shooting. Junior guard Charles Mann scored 16 points and senior forward Nemanja Djurisic added 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
Gaines' shooting touch became contagious. The Bulldogs (4-3) entered the game shooting 25.8 percent from beyond the arc and 46 percent from the floor. They found McKenzie Arena to their liking. Georgia shot 63.3 percent from the floor and hit 7 of 11 3-pointers.
''We were very unselfish and stayed within our style of play and helped ourselves,'' Fox said. ''When we help each other, we are a good offense. We had 15 assists and played together and helped each other find a shot that we could finish.''
Chattanooga had no such offensive success. The Mocs (3-5) were limited to 31 percent from the floor and 6 of 28 in the second half when Georgia pulled away. Junior forward Casey Jones led UTC with 19 points. Nobody else reached double figures and the Mocs shot 7 of 23 from distance before a crowd of 3,784.
''We got good shots,'' Chattanooga coach Will Wade said. ''We shot more shots. They were just real efficient on their shots.
''You can't take away everything from them. We played the numbers and we lost.''
The Bulldogs led 39-32 at halftime after never trailing before the break. They opened up a 20-point lead with 12:30 to go in the game and finished with a 39-24 advantage in rebounding. The Bulldogs, especially behind Thornton, outscored Chattanooga 42-18 in the paint.
''I felt like size was an advantage for us,'' Fox said. ''We felt like we could throw it inside.''
UGA opened the second half on a 16-5 run, and built its lead to 55-37 on consecutive 3-pointers by Juwan Parker and Gaines.
The final margin was Georgia's largest lead of the night. The Bulldogs' bench outscored UTC 22-13.
By switching between man-to-man and 2-3 zone defenses, Georgia limited Chattanooga to 31 percent shooting and just six field goals in the second half.
''We didn't want to give them a bunch of drive,'' Fox said. ''They were driving it and we didn't want them shooting 50 free throws.''
Georgia: Guard J.J. Frazier, the Bulldogs' top scorer in New York, scored two points and attempted just one shot from the floor. Once a member of the Southern Conference, Georgia is 85-19 all-time against Southern Conference schools.
Chattanooga: Five Chattanooga players will begin final exam week with 8 a.m. tests on Wednesday morning. The Mocs will close out the two-for-one contract with Georgia next season after falling 87-56 in Athens last year.
LONG TIME COMING
Chattanooga's Casey Jones was 6 of 6 from the free throw line and hit his first 3-pointer since Dec. 21, 2012.
Seven Georgia players played at least 20 minutes. Kenny Gaines played the longest with 32 minutes.
Georgia: Hosts Colorado on Sunday afternoon.
Chattanooga: Hosts Montreat on Monday.