ATHENS, Ga. -- Mark Fox didn’t mince words when asked Sunday about Vanderbilt guard John Jenkins’ shooting ability.
“He’s the best shooter I’ve ever coached against,” Georgia’s coach said of Jenkins, who scored 16 of his 28 points in the second half as Vanderbilt rallied for a 61-52 win at Stegeman Coliseum. “He’s phenomenal, he really is.”
Thanks to Jenkins’ sharpshooting from beyond the 3-point line -- he was 6-for-8 on 3-point attempts, three of which came during a 15-0 run that gave the Commodores the lead for good -- Vanderbilt (19-8, 8-4 SEC) won for the third time in four games.
“He just changes how you can coach sometimes because of the prolific way that he shoots the basketball,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said.
The Bulldogs (12-14, 3-9) led 29-28 at halftime and 40-35 after Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s jumper with 13:38 left, but Vanderbilt responded with the scoring run that produced the game’s first double-digit lead.
While Jenkins and the Commodores found their shooting touch, the Bulldogs missed eight straight attempts and quickly found themselves behind 50-40.
“We went on a drought offensively. We were up 40-35 and they went on a little 15-0 run and that really hurt us, just like we’ve seen in other games this season,” said Georgia guard Gerald Robinson, the Bulldogs’ only double-figure scorer with 19 points. “When you go into a drought offensively, that’s actually a time where you’ve got to sink in more defensively. But it’s kind of hard sometimes when you let the defense slip and you’re not scoring at the same time. It kind of put us in a huge hole.”
Robinson hit 8 of 13 shots, but received little scoring assistance from his teammates.
Caldwell-Pope came in averaging a team-best 14.2 points per game, but did not score until the aforementioned basket 27 minutes into the game. He finished 3-for-13 from the field. Likewise, senior guard Dustin Ware was 2-for-10 from the floor.
Caldwell-Pope and Ware were a combined 1-for-16 from 3-point range, forming the bulk of the team’s 3-for-23 effort from beyond the arc, while the Commodores were 10-for-22 on 3-pointers.
“I’ve done just about everything there is to do,” said Ware, who is shooting 31.5 percent from 3-point range this year after shooting 44 percent from beyond the arc last season. “It’s just the most frustrating thing ever, but I’m just going to keep trying. It’s frustrating. I think the biggest thing is knowing I’m not delivering for my team when it counts. That’s probably one of the most frustrating things.”
The loss dropped Georgia two games below .500 with four games remaining -- road games at LSU and Kentucky and home dates with Florida and South Carolina -- in the regular season, plus the SEC tournament.
The Bulldogs still harbor hopes of reaching a postseason tournament, but know they probably need at least two more wins to get there.
They realize that converting more shots on the offensive end would make their path to the postseason much smoother.
“We’re extremely close,” Ware said. “We’ve got a lot of good teams left, a lot of games left for us to play. We’ve got to just try to keep improving every day. Every time we’re out there on the floor, we’re looking to improve and we have been. It’s definitely frustrating that the ball hasn’t gone in for us sometimes, but that’s just part of the game.”