ATHENS - The first game gave the Georgia men's basketball team some encouragement. It didn't last long. The discouragement arrived Friday night, dished out once again by the in-state rival.
After a competitive first half, Georgia Tech quickly pulled away in the first few minutes of the second half, then cruised to an 80-71 victory.
It was Georgia's third straight loss to Georgia Tech, two of them at home, the closest margin being eight. The last time Georgia Tech beat Georgia three straight times was 1992-94.
Georgia head coach Mark Fox was asked about the losing streak afterwards.
"I'm the basketball coach at Georgia. You think losing to Georgia Tech doesn't bother me," Fox said. "I mean, it'll make me sick for a year."
Then Fox added: "We do have 29 more to play."
But Fox will now probably have to adjust his top 25 ballot. He voted his team No. 25 the first two weeks in the USA Today poll, the only voter to do so, and said he would keep doing it until the Bulldogs lost.
Sophomore guard Charles Mann led Georgia with 22 points, but he had little other help, especially in the second half. The Yellow Jackets went on a 12-0 run in the first few minutes of the second half - after finishing the first half on a 13-5 run - then led by double digits most of the rest of the way.
"They punched us in the mouth, and we didn't respond very well until maybe four or five minutes later," Mann said. "We can't allow that to happen."
"That little spurt right there separated them from us, then we played even the other 35 minutes of the game," Fox said. "But we have to understand that bad possessions are so costly in high level games. We have 29 more of them (games). There's a lot to learn from this one. But it's certainly no fun to lose it."
Georgia Tech (3-0) dominated inside, scoring 40 points in the paint, and out-rebounding Georgia 49-40. Former Tennessee guard Trae Golden, who transferred this year, led the Volunteers with 19 points. Former Georgia signee Daniel Miller, who was signed by Dennis Felton before his firing, added 14 points and 13 rebounds.
The Bulldogs didn't help themselves by shooting 19-for-29 from the free throw line, including an 0-for-4 run by sophomore Cameron Forte during Georgia Tech’s decisive run.
Forte, earning his first start, had a good first half, got all eight points and five rebounds in the first half. Then he disappeared.
“After I missed those four free throws in a row I feel like that kind of got to my head,” Forte said.
Georgia sophomore guard Kenny Gaines scored most of his 13 points when it was too late, only getting two points in the first half, and going 1-for-6 from beyond the arc.
“I just feel like I didn’t come out to play,” Gaines said. “I think I got too hyped in warm-ups, and my energy shot down when the game got started. I wasn’t there for my team.”
If there's a silver lining for Georgia (1-1), it's the offensive production: Last year it took the Bulldogs until their ninth game to score 70 points, and that was in overtime. This year they've done it in each of their first two games.
“It’s only November, so I’m not worried about nothing really at all,” Mann said. “We’ll get back to practice, we’ll get back to grinding, and we’ll get it together.”