February 19, 2012

No answer for Jenkins

Georgia coach Mark Fox has seen some fine shooters over the course of his basketball career.

But none compare to Vanderbilt senior John Jenkins, who single-handedly shot the Commodores past the Bulldogs Sunday at Stegeman Coliseum, 61-52.

Jenkins finished with 28 points, including six three-pointers, as Vanderbilt (19-8, 8-4) handed the Bulldogs (12-14, 3-9) their second straight defeat.

"He's the best shooter I've ever seen," Fox said. "He's phenomenal. He really is. I've got to give the kid a tremendous amount of credit. He's a first-class kid; he's making almost four three-point shots a game, which is remarkable. That's something you look at going into every game, how many is he making per game. You can't make any mistake against him."

The Bulldogs certainly didn't have an answer.

Even on the two three-pointers that he missed, Jenkins was fouled on both and converted all six of his free throw attempts.

"He made some tough, guarded baskets," Fox said. "It wasn't like he was in the clear or anything like that but guys like that take a special defense and we really didn't do it on him today."

Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings is just glad Jenkins is on his side.

"He's as good of a shooter as I've ever seen and certainly the best that I've ever coached. He was terrific today," Stallings said. "He just changes how you can coach sometimes, because of the prolific way he shoots the basketball."

Fox has not such luxury.

Once again, poor shooting - both from the field and the free throw line - plus the failure to convert a number of open looks under the basket did the Bulldogs in.

Otherwise, Georgia actually converted more field goals than the Commodores (20-17), out-rebounded Vandy (32-31) and only turned the ball over 12 times compared to 20 for Stallings' squad.

"We've played 12 league games and we've made more baskets than our opponents have made," Fox said. "We've got fewer turnovers than our opponents in league play and we have more offensive rebounds than our opponents. But we're getting beat at the foul line. We just aren't physical enough to draw free-throw attempts and that's just an area where we're getting beat.
"If we make some free throws, finish some easy plays around the basket, this game comes down to the wire, but we're not finishing the plays. We've just got to continue to improve and make that next couple of steps."

Georgia made just 9 of 14 free throw attempts against the Commodores, who went to the line 21 times converting 17.

It didn't help matters for the Bulldogs that leading scorer Kentavious Caldwell-Pope picked up his second foul with just over 16 minutes still left in the first half and didn't play until the second. He finished with just four points.

"It kind of took me out of my rhythm," Caldwell-Pope said. "To have to sit on the bench for the whole first half got me out of my rhythm and I got a little frustrated the second half with my shot selections. It just wasn't my night tonight."

Gerald Robinson Jr. led the Bulldogs with 19 points.

The first half went back and forth, first with Georgia going on a 9-0 run, keyed by a three-pointer by Vincent Williams and a bucket by Robinson to go up 14-10.

A Robinson layup would extend the margin to 19-13 before the Commodores went on a run of their own, scorning nine of the next 11 points to reclaim a 24-22 lead with 5:13 to go.

But the Bulldogs didn't trail for long.

The game was tied at 25 at the 3:29 mark, but Georgia gained the advantage after that, getting a dunk from Williams and a tip-in by Nemanja Djurisic enabling the Bulldogs to go into half with a 29-28 lead.

"We missed some easy ones in the first half, fouled their three-point shooter (Jenkins) twice, and we didn't shoot free throws well," Fox said. "Against good teams, those little plays you have to make if you want to win."

Georgia returns to action Wednesday night at LSU (8 p.m.) before hosting Florida Saturday at 4 p.m.