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Georgia tops Notre Dame in CBE Classic
Freshman Caldwell-Pope helps team take 3rd in tournament
Georgia guard Gerald Robinson (22) gets past Notre Dame forward Jack Cooley (45) to put up a shot during the second half on Tuesday in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) - photo by Charlie Riedel | Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope came to Georgia with a reputation for being a prolific scorer.

He's already proving he can take care of things on defense, too.

The freshman scored a career-high 16 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer late in the game, and shut down Notre Dame star Tim Abromaitis while helping Georgia to a 61-57 victory on Tuesday night in the third-place game of the CBE Classic.

"His defense tonight was terrific," said coach Mark Fox, who will be relying on Caldwell-Pope and a bunch of other newcomers in Georgia's bid to return to the NCAA tournament. "He's not known for being a good defender — he's known for being a scorer — but he did a nice job against a great player."

Abromaitis was just 1 of 12 from the field and missed all seven of his 3-point shots in his second game since returning from a four-game suspension. He finished with just six points and six rebounds despite playing 38 minutes, his legs looking shot after back-to-back games.

"When our two fifth-year seniors couldn't shoot it, we're not going to win many games against caliber teams," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said.

Nemanja Djurisic added 10 points for the Bulldogs (4-1), who rebounded nicely from a rout at the hands of No. 20 California to escape Kansas City with some positive vibes. They wound up going 12 of 26 (46 percent) from the beyond the arc and outrebounded the Irish 37-23.

"We needed to leave here with a split," Fox said. "This was a resume game against a Big East team, and those games matter."

The young Bulldogs built a seven-point lead early in the second half, but the Irish (4-2) tied it at 53 with 5:11 to play on two free throws by Jerian Grant.

Caldwell-Pope broke the tie with his fourth 3-pointer of the game with 3:37 left, and added a free throw moments later to give the Bulldogs a four-point cushion. Georgia prevented Notre Dame from making another field goal until Grant's 3-pointer at the buzzer.

"That's what I have to do, start with my defense, get that going," said Caldwell-Pope, who was heavily recruited out of Greenville, Ga. "I'm a good defender, so Coach puts me on a good player, I'm going to try to shut them down."

Grant finished with a career-best 20 points, half of them coming from the foul line, and Eric Atkins added 12 for Notre Dame. Pat Connaughton wound up with 11.

Neither team managed much separation during a tightly contested first half, though Notre Dame went on an 11-2 run that turned a 15-11 deficit into a 22-17 lead.

The Bulldogs answered behind the outside shooting of Djurisic, a 6-foot-8 freshman forward who has proven valuable off the bench. His first 3-pointer pulled the Bulldogs within 26-25 with 4:15 left before the break, and his second tied the game at 28 with 2:28 remaining in the half.

Atkins broke the deadlock with a free throw, but Sherrard Brantley drained a 3-pointer for his only points of the first half just before the buzzer to give Georgia a 31-29 lead in the locker room.

Georgia tied a season high by making seven 3-pointers in the first half, while the Irish went just 2 of 10 from beyond the arc. Abromaitis was 0 for 4 from long range and 0 for 6 from the field in the first half, totaling just two points and four rebounds.

The fifth-year senior returned from a four-game suspension caused by a misunderstanding of an NCAA bylaw by his coaches to score 22 points in an 87-58 loss to Missouri in the semifinals.

That was the program's worst loss since a 31-point setback to Connecticut in January 1999.

Notre Dame looked like it might be able to rebound from the humbling defeat when it scored eight straight points in the second half to pull even with the Bulldogs. But the poor shooting of Abromaitis and the Fighting Irish's inability to keep Georgia off the glass prevented them from pulling ahead.

"We didn't battle last night like I wanted us to, but tonight we fought and gave ourselves a chance to win," Brey said. "We've got a lot of work to do, but that's OK. A couple steps forward, a couple steps back. That's what these first six games have been."

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