Gerald Robinson, Georgia beat Mercer 72-58Georgia forward Nemanja Djurisic (42) goes up for a shot as Mercer guard Travis Smith (2) defends in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Athens , Ga., Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) Georgia broke open a close game with a strong start to the second half and Gerald Robinson had 10 of his 20 points in the final 6 minutes as the Bulldogs beat Mercer 72-58 on Tuesday night.
Georgia (6-5) struggled with poor shooting early in the game and, trying to avoid its first loss to the Bears in 52 years, trailed most of the first half before opening the second half with a 16-3 run.
Freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who did not score in the first half, had a steal and jam to cap the 16-3 run for a 46-33 lead.
Mercer (7-5) had only six points in the first 9 minutes of the second half. Langston Hall led the Bears with 16 points, including 11 in the first half.
Georgia has won two in a row after four straight losses.
Connor Nolte and Vincent Williams each had 11 points for the Bulldogs. Caldwell-Pope had 8 points, all in the second half.
Georgia led 57-38 before Mercer scored eight straight points, capped by back-to-back baskets by Bud Thomas. Robinson had four straight baskets for the Bulldogs to help hold off the comeback bid.
Mercer, coming off an overtime loss at Seton Hall on Sunday, suffered its 15th straight loss in the series. The Bears' last win over Georgia came in 1959.
Mercer led most of the first half, taking a big lead of 16-8 on a basket by Daniel Coursey.
After Coursey's basket, a miss by Nemanja Djurisic left Georgia only 3 of 14 from the field. Dustin Ware's 3-pointer, followed by a three-point play by Robinson, helped Georgia regroup in the final 10 minutes of the half.
Nolte's 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining in the half pulled Georgia even at the break at 30-30.
Georgia's Djurisic, John Florveus and Donte Williams were a combined 0 for 10 from the field in the half, and Williams missed each of his four free throws.
Caldwell-Pope was called for his second foul about 5 minutes into the game and sat out most of the first half.
Georgia's first-half shooting woes against the Bears were not a new development. The Bulldogs began the game ranked 307th of 338 Division I teams in field-goal shooting (38.9 percent) and 306th with their average of 59.8 points per game.
Georgia leads the series 52-23. The teams did not meet for 11 years before the Bulldogs' 56-53 win in Macon last year.