ATHENS — The long and short of it was that Georgia’s leading scorers, in a 79-67 win over Robert Morris on Tuesday night, could have played so much better.
The long, 6-foot-8 center Yante Maten, scored 20 points, and the short, 5-10 guard J.J. Frazier, scored 17, without impressing their coach.
“They ended up in double figures, but neither one of them played as well as they have,” said Coach Mark Fox. “They both scored, but they can do so much better. When they have nights like they had tonight and we still think they can do better, that is a good thing.”
Maten and Frazier scored 16 of Georgia’s last 18 points as the Bulldogs (7-3) pulled away from a pesky Robert Morris (2-11) squad.
Fox would have liked to have seen better from the whole team.
“If you look at the numbers,” said Fox, “we shoot better than 50 percent and hold them below 40. We win by double figures in the first game out of the Christmas break. We should be happy.
“But I don’t think we played particularly well. We were fortunate to play from in front. We had a lot of rust.”
Fox did have praise for reserve forward Kenny Paul Geno, who scored six points — including two resounding dunks — and handed out a career-high seven assists.
“Kenny Paul is a very willing passer,” said Fox. “He is a good 3-point shooter, and people know that and play him tight. He probably played the best of anybody tonight.”
Rodney Pryor scored 22 for Robert Morris. The Colonials got 14 points from Kavon Stewart and Elijah Minnie added 13.
“You have to give Georgia credit for putting some pressure on us and making us a little bit uncomfortable on the offensive side of the floor,” said RMU Coach Andrew Toole. “I think we also shot ourselves in the foot at times.”
Georgia scored the first six points, but the Colonials answered with six of their own to tie. The Bulldogs then scored 10 straight points and never looked back. Seven different Bulldogs scored their first seven field goals.
Georgia’s biggest lead of the first half was a 24-12 lead at 7:56 when freshman reserve forward E’Torrion Wilridge converted a fast-break layup. Maten’s jumper from the lane equaled that spread at 30-18 with 3:55 to go in the half.
Robert Morris chipped into the deficit and trailed by seven with just 9.6 seconds to go in the half after Minnie’s 3-pointer. RMU missed its first 10 tries from 3-point range. Frazier converted a four-point play with just 2.4 seconds to go in the half to put Georgia up 38-27 at halftime.
The Colonials rallied early in the second half, cutting the gap to five points. After a 3-pointer by Minnie made it 44-39 with 15:31 to play, the Bulldogs picked up the pace. Geno and Kessler’s dunks helped Georgia mount an 8-3 run that pushed the lead back to 12 at 54-42 with 10:02 to go.
A 3-pointer and a fast-break layup by Frazier put the Bulldogs up 68-52 with only 4:15 remaining. The biggest lead was at 73-56 after another 3 by Frazier with 2:52 remaining.
Robert Morris: With a productive second half, Rodney Pryor scored 20 points for the sixth straight game.
Georgia: In the only previous meeting between Georgia and RMU in 1984, forward Chad Kessler scored eight points and had three steals for Georgia. His son Houston Kessler started for the Bulldogs Tuesday and contributed six points, four rebounds and one assist.
Kenny Gaines, averaging 13.8 points, scored a season-low seven for Georgia, but still moved past both Allan Johnson and Bob Schloss on the school career-scoring list to No. 40, just seven points behind No. 39 Chris Daniels.
Robert Morris opens Northeast Conference competition at home in Moon, Pennsylvania on Jan. 2 against Sacred Heart.
Georgia begins Southeastern Conference play at Florida on Jan. 2.