Posted: 5:49 pm Friday, March 21st, 2014

Bulldogs inspired, motivated by Mercer’s stunning win over Duke 

By Chip Towers

Not that they need any more at the moment, but the Mercer Bears have some fans in the Georgia Bulldogs. In fact, one Bulldog in particular predicted Mercer’s upset over Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.

“That’s one of the upsets I called right,” said Georgia point guard Charles Mann, shortly before the Bulldogs’ practice Friday and soon after the Bears’ 79-71 victory. “Me and J.J. (Frazier) were arguing in the locker room about it (Thursday). He said Duke was going to win and I said, ‘no, I think Mercer is going to pull an upset.’ And they did it!”

Mann and the Bulldogs were going on more than regional pride and optimism. They actually played the Bears in one of the NCAA’s annual preseason private scrimmages this past Novemeber. And it was a barn-burner, by all accounts. They actually played three 15-minute periods, rather than two halves. UGA officials who were there said Mercer won the first period, Georgia won the other and the backups battled to a virtual draw in the third.

The Bulldogs also played Mercer at home early last season and had to fight like mad to pull out a 58-49 victory. So there’s some local knowledge.

“Mercer’s a real good team,” Mann said. “They’ve got a lot of seniors, terrific bigs and they had a great point guard. I knew any team with a good big would give Duke problems. I called it right.”

Said Georgia coach Mark Fox: “I thought they’d be terrific (this season). We’ve played them the previous three years, too, so I’m really happy that they won today. (Coach) Bob (Hoffman) and I have a great friendship and we talk quite a bit, so I’m very happy for their team.”

Georgia, meanwhile, is still competing as well, albeit on a considerably smaller stage. The Bulldogs (20-13) will play host to Louisiana Tech (28-7) in an NIT second-round game Saturday at UGA’s Stegeman Coliseum. An 11 a.m. tipoff time was arranged by the tournament so as not to bump too much against the higher-profile event the Bears are playing in.

But Georgia claims to be no less motivated for their contest. And it can’t afford to be.

In the Bulldogs from Rushton, La., Georgia is hosting a team that very much believes it belongs in the other tournament. LaTech finished in a four-way tie for first in the Conference USA regular season, but Tulsa got the league’s only bid via the automatic qualifier by winning the conference tournament.

The visiting Bulldogs were awarded the No. 3 seed in the NIT and narrowly defeated Iona 89-88 on Wednesday. Georgia, a 2 seed, had to rally to beat Vermont 63-56 the same night. The winner will play the victor of Monday’s game between FSU and Georgetown sometime next week.

So Saturday’s game will feature two teams with contrasting styles. LaTech is a high-tempo team that averages 81.3 points a game. Georgia is a team steeled on defense and rebounding.

“Everyone that’s playing now is good, and they’re very good,” Fox said. “They have a lot of interchangeable parts, shoot the 3 all over the place, a lot of guys who can score, force turnovers. They’re an excellent team. It probably came down to the bitter end whether they got in or not.”

Georgia feels like it belongs as well, a fact underscored by Mercer’s stunning victory on Friday. It was about this time last year that the Bears ousted Tennessee from the NIT.

“Of course, watching some of these games, I get kind of frustrated and angry,” said Mann, who scored a career-best 29 points in the Bulldogs’ first-round win. “But we put ourselves in this position. So we’ve just got to learn from this and go get it next year. But I’m proud of those guys.”

18 comments
grh0317
grh0317

Dawgs looked inspired! What a joke, dropping to Lake Charles, La. High..

58Supersports
58Supersports

Great..6min to go UGA back in game...finally awake! Go Dawgs!

58Supersports
58Supersports

Dogs look lost, can't beat the press, can't shoot, and turn overs?...Fox has not got them ready for this game, like in another world.

Ref's also sucks!

Delusionaldog
Delusionaldog

Quite a show at the Schmeg.


Down 41-20 with 4:13 in the first. 

THEBuckeyes1
THEBuckeyes1

Delisionaldog (THEBuckeye) I am so glad we get to play together on UGA blogs on a Saturday!  I guess we are about as pathetic as it gets huh?  I had a great time with you last night.  Needed that!

Delusionaldog
Delusionaldog

Must be a hot ticket in Athens. 


Students get in the Schmeg free. 

MoistDawg
MoistDawg

i suggested after southern rolled over floriduh at floriduh that we give them the honor of "dawg for a day" and i think we should do that for mercer to. they made us all proud and represented us well on the national stage but dont forget mercer we beat you pretty good when we played you.

JaySly
JaySly

the dogs will beat la tech easily and head to new york!

HotDawg
HotDawg

Happy for Mercer....they were much nicer and appropriate than the GSU fans.

They will find cheering partners from UGA.

Best wishes to Mercer and all their fans.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Halfback.....it's a UGA blog

Chip Towers is the UGA beat writer.

Are you not familiar with the AJC srtucture?

It's fairly clear with the Headings on the main sports page.

Halfback
Halfback

It's Mercer's big day, and the article is about UGA?  Come on!

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

LOL......the silence speaks volumes. Al.com is a barn owned site (AD complex pays for the FAU PR it appears) but they have 2 beatwriters assigned to both Bama and FAU. Problem is the two Bama beatwriters are assigned to find anything negative they can about Bama. You would think the AJC would have at least two guys working the UGA account. Maybe Soros doesn't like football.

TampGator1
TampGator1

@FoSho


Hey, FoSho........Gators just dominated Pitt to move to the Sweet 16.   Wrong.....about your team.....and WRONG.....about the Gators not making it to the very Sweet 16.  That would be in the NCAA tourney, not the NIT tourney, by the way. 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@FoSho  

Have you checked out the actual game? DUH!

28-9, La Tech, less than 10 minutes in.

Mulk
Mulk

@Halfback  You stole the words right from my mouth. It's kinda like saying "we've won 7 straight national championships." How in the hell can this Towers guy turn in a great accomplishment by Mercer into a story about UGAG?