UGA basketball

Georgia falls against No. 12 Kentucky 69-49

ATHENS, Ga. – The Georgia men’s basketball team fell to the No. 12 Kentucky Wildcats 69-49 in a sold-out Stegeman Coliseum on Tuesday night.

For the fifth time this season sophomore forward Nicolas Claxton led the Bulldogs in points and rebounds with tonight being 12 and nine respectively. This is Claxton’s 10th double-digit scoring game of the season. Fellow sophomore forward Rayshaun Hammonds posted an impressive point total (11) as well marking his 12th double-digit game of the season. Junior guard Jordan Harris notched a new career-high in boards with seven, the second-leading rebounder of the night.

The 69 points scored are the lowest by Kentucky (13-3, 3-1) this season for an offense that ranks fourth in the SEC in points per game with 80.9. After a first half that featured a four-point game, Kentucky leading 35-31, the Wildcats pulled away in the second half on hot shooting. At the half, both squads shot over 40-percent. Leading all players in scoring and rebounding was Claxton with nine and five, respectively. By the end of regulation, the Wildcats shot 43.8-percent (28-64) and Georgia shot 30.4-percent (17-56). In the second half, Kentucky stayed above 40-percent, while the Bulldogs went cold, going 19.2-percent (5-26).

“First off, defensively, we didn’t do a good enough job of taking away their strengths,” said Georgia head coach Tom Crean. “They’re very much a right-handed driving team and a left-shoulder post team. It’s not a complicated game plan. We were going under on [Ashton] Hagans, and if he made a three, so be it. That’s not his forte. His forte is getting in the paint, make plays, and get you to chase him so he can throw it out to the shooters. We wanted to stay home on the shooters, but we also wanted to take away their right hand on the drives and their post-ups. We just weren’t aggressive enough. We weren’t tough enough on the ball. That has been the story when we’ve struggled.”

A strong Georgia (9-7, 1-3) defense blocked two Kentucky shots enabling a jam from senior forward Derek Ogbeide to start the Bulldog lead in the first minute of the game. The Wildcats responded to tie the game but another dunk from Ogbeide secured the Bulldog advantage, 9-6. Kentucky fought to regain the edge, which changed hands over a three-minute span. The Wildcats took back the lead 16-14 at 11:25 remaining, which Kentucky maintained for the half.

A layup and free throw from Harris brought the margin down to two rendering the score 20-18. The Wildcats brought it back up to a five-point spread with 6:34 left but a three from Harris narrowed it back to two at 27-25. Claxton helped to tie the game twice at 27 and 29, but Kentucky took back the edge 31-29 with 2:51 remaining. The teams traded shots that resulted in the 35-31 halftime score.

Coming out of the break, Georgia forced Kentucky into a shot clock violation, but came up empty on the other side of the court as well. The Bulldogs nearly forced another shot clock violation, however Ashton Hagans beat the buzzer with a three, igniting the Wildcats on a 9-0 run for a 44-31 Wildcat lead.

Hammonds scored the Bulldogs’ first second half points at the line and then had a tip-in followed by a Claxton free throw to put the Georgia deficit back into single digits. Kentucky answered with a 3-pointer to grow its lead back to double digits, 47-36, however a transition three by junior guard Tyree Crump dipped Georgia again back below the 10-point threshold. That was the closest Georgia got however as the Wildcats then went on a 8-0 run and kept its double-digit lead for the rest of regulation to seal the 69-49 win.

The Bulldogs return to Stegeman Coliseum Saturday, January 19, at 12 pm to take on the Florida Gators on CBS.

POST-GAME NOTES

• Another big crowd at Stegemen Coliseum with 10,523 fans. Through nine home games this season, Georgia has averaged 8,442 fans, which is the most since the 2002-03 season.

• Georgia is now 7-5 with the starting line up of William Jackson II, Teshaun Hightower, Rayshaun Hammonds, Nicolas Claxton, and Derek Ogbeide. Bulldogs with consecutive starts are Hammonds (20), Claxton (16), Ogbeide (22), Hightower (10), and Jackson (13). Jackson has 64 career starts.

• Georgia limited UK, the SEC’s fourth-best scoring offense (80.9 ppg coming in) to 69 points for the Wildcats’ lowest output of the season.

• Kentucky is the ninth opponent Georgia has played this season that reached a 2018 postseason and the eighth team that had at least 20 wins last year. The Bulldogs are currently 2-7 in those games.

• A two-block game is now considered an off-game for Nicolas Claxton as he contains a SEC-leading 52 blocks on the season for an average of 3.3 a game – also atop of the SEC. He has 29 multi-block games in his 49-game career.

• Rebounds continue for Nicolas Claxton as he had a team-high nine boards for a SEC-leading 151 total rebounds which is about on par for his average of 9.5 RPG – also tied for the top of the SEC.

• It was a tale of two halfs as the break featured a four-point game, UK 35-31, and the final a 20-point UK win. At the half, the Wildcats shot 46.7-percent (14-30) to Georgia’s 40-percent (12-30). Leading all players in scoring and rebounding was Nicolas Claxton with nine and five, respectively. By the end of regulation, UK shot 43.8-percent (28-64) and UGA shot 30.4-percent (17-56). Therefore in the second half, UK shot 41.2-percent (14-34), and Georgia went cold, going 19.2-percent (5-26).

• For the fifth time this season, Nicolas Claxton led the team in points and rebounds.

• Another two-block, two-steal game for Claxton who has five such games in his career – all occurring this season.

• Both teams hit four 3-pointes, but UK was 36.4-percent (4-11), and UGA was 14.8-percent (4-27).

• The Points in the Paint Battle went to Kentucky to a tone of 40-22. The 22 points ties for the lowest for Georgia on the

POST-GAME QUOTES

Georgia head coach Tom Crean

On the offense…

“On the offensive end, we missed a lot of open shots. A couple of them we would like to have back, but we missed a lot of open shots. Our heads started to get down. It’s not lack of character, lack of want-to, and it’s certainly not lack of work. But, it’s a lack of maturity when the shots aren’t going and it affects our defense. It’s happened to us before and if we don’t mature, it’s going to happen again. We just have to have some carry over from practice in this. Our cutting, our rolling, when we post. We definitely had some shots on the perimeter. We had 11 the other day and I though we should have made 7 or 8 more at Auburn. We’re going to shoot the ball. They’re not bad shots. We’ve just got to stay confident and knock them down.”

On coming out in the 2nd half…

“We’re not coming out with enough spirit. It’s baffling, it really is. We know we don’t have a true point guard or a true leader. That’s not an excuse to come out without a spirit. There’s got to be a tenacity and a spirit. I’m going to have to start changing the lineup. There’s no one that’s coming out, grabbing the bull by the horns, and saying let’s go. It’s not like we have anyone that’s playing that well throughout the game that they’re not subject to coming off the bench.

Sophomore Forward Nicolas Claxton

On things the team needs to work on after this game…

“After a loss like this you got to really individually look at yourself and every aspect. Even if you played well with shooting or on defense you got to really just try to improve everything. When we have practice on Thursday, we’re going to go hard. Try to keep motivating everyone and make sure we get to class on time Wednesday and get ready for Saturday.”

On losing momentum throughout the game…

“I think that we just had a pretty decent first half. We were down by four I think. I just feel like in the second half we didn’t come out with the right mentality.”

On going into another sellout crowd on Saturday…

“It seems like something we’ve been saying a lot but we got to bounce back and continue to stay confident in ourself. The crowd was behind us the whole game and we just didn’t perform like we were supposed to. We will be ready for Saturday and we expect to have them with us the whole game.”

Senior Guard Turtle Jackson

On having rough games playing top teams…

“Like my mom said, if you hit rock bottom, you can always go up. If people claim that’s our worst game then I can see that next time we face them or face another great opponent that we will do much better. We cant really have our heads down and no one in Dawg nation should have their head down even if it was a loss because if you lose by 1 or you lose by 20 its still a loss. And we’re going to take that as motivation.

On being in a shooting slump…

“I think its just staying confident in yourself. Like you said, we’ve been in a little bit of a shooting slump and I have to. Its just making sure you’re just staying in the gym believing in yourself. The coaching staff is always pushing us to make sure we get in our extra reps and pushing us to stay confident and keep shooting.”

On things the team needs to work on after this game…

“We need to do a better job of playing defense as a whole. We had some guys who didn’t come out and play very well so we need to do a better job of just stopping them. It’s pretty simple. And we need to make sure we knock down shots. That’s me that’s everybody.  We got to look ourselves in the mirror. Its not the coaches, it’s the players, we just got to fight and keep getting better.”

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Bulldogs challenge No. 11 Tigers in loss, 93-78

AUBURN, Ala. – In the Bulldogs’ second Southeastern Conference road game, the Georgia men’s basketball team were unable to overtake No. 11 Auburn, losing 93-78, Saturday afternoon at Auburn Arena.

From the tip, the game was fast paced with the first half going back and forth evenly until Auburn pushed it to double digits by the first horn, which was just enough to maintain for the second half. The Tigers, sporting the conference’s second-highest scoring offense, improved to 12-3 overall, while picking up their first conference win to be at 1-1. The Bulldogs moved to 9-6 overall and 1-2 in SEC play with both wins on the road against ranked foes.

“Being down 10 didn’t feel like being down by 10 today at all,” Georgia head coach Tom Crean said. “It really didn’t. We didn’t do as good as a job in certain times in the game. It came down to the points off turnovers and the second chance points. When you go on the road you have to find a way to win those parts of the battle. I know it was only six or so points each way, but those are the things that add up. I didn’t think we shot the ball well and we still hit 11 threes. We’ve gotten better this week and we had moments that we showed that today, but we had moments where we didn’t. It is a process that we have to continue to learn from, but I think we can.”

Four Bulldogs reached double digits in a balanced attack featuring William Jackson (16), Nicolas Claxton (15), Crump (14), and Teshaun Hightower (12). Rayshaun Hammonds led the rebounding effort with 10, his second double-digit rebounding game of the season and third all-time. On the defensive effort, Claxton piled on career-high tying six blocks to his SEC-leading season block total. Jackson also chipped in a team-high and a personal season-best five assists.

Auburn showed their strength from the start, draining back-to-back threes in the first two minutes. However, Hightower answered with a three of his own to signify the Bulldogs’ were ready. The Tigers got out to a 13-4 lead, but six straight points from Jackson, Derek Ogbeide, and Hightower got Georgia back in it. The two squads went blow for blow in the first 10 minutes with Jordan Harris knocking down a transition trey for Georgia’s first lead at 22-20.

Around the six-minute mark, Hammonds converted a free throw in a three-point play to keep it close at 35-33. Then with about two minutes remaining, Auburn stretched it out to double digits with a dunk. Georgia’s Ignas Sargiunas snapped back with a three, but the relentless Tigers’ erased that with a three to make it a 48-38 going into the break. The scoring leaders at half were Auburn’s Anfernee McLemore and Claxton with 11 apiece.

A Claxton layup out of the break put the game back in single digits and a Jackson three-ball made it six. Picking up right where the first half let off, both teams then went back-and-forth. Auburn’s Jared Harper nailed a three putting the lead back into double digits, 61-48, which prompted Crean to use his first second half timeout at the 15:26 mark.

Through the rest of the contest, Georgia was able to maintain pace with high-octane Tiger offense (83.9 ppg) – not letting the deficit get out of hand – but were unable to trim the margin into single digits. Georgia brought the game to a 10-point different five times.

The Bulldogs shot 45 percent from the floor, while the Tigers topped that with a shooting mark of 50 percent. Each team leaned on the three-ball as Georgia connected on 11 and Auburn one-upped the Bulldogs with 12.

Georgia returns to the hardwood next against No. 18 Kentucky Tuesday, January 15th. Tip off is schedule for 7 p.m. ET and will be aired on ESPN.

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Georgia opens home SEC play with 82-63 win over Vanderbilt

ATHENS, Ga. – The University of Georgia men’s basketball team beat the Vanderbilt Commodores 82-63 on Wednesday night in the SEC home opener at Stegeman Coliseum.

Sophomore Rayshaun Hammonds was the lead scorer of the night accumulating 19 points. Senior Derek Ogbeide (15) and sophomore Teshaun Hightower (11) posted impressive point totals as well. The SEC leader in rebounds and blocks, sophomore Nicolas Claxton, posted his seventh double-digit boards game (12) of the season, while tallying five blocks.

“The last thing I wanted was a group of guys not confident,” said Georgia head coach Tom Crean. “That was going to be the key especially after Saturday’s game. We needed to look at the film, and it needed to pierce guys a little bit. This is not the character or mentality that we want to play with. We came out in practice to build confidence, and they did that. What I was proud of was that we didn’t take any trips off on the defensive end. We got beat on the dribble a couple times, but to hold this team to 24 percent from three, 33 percent overall, and get thirty-nine deflections, that’s good defense. That’s the maturity that we have to have.”

Georgia (9-5, 1-1) started the night with a jam from Ogbeide to put the Bulldogs on the board. Both teams exchanged baskets in the first five minutes but Georgia maintained the lead. A pair of free throws from Claxon brought Georgia into double-digits, 10-6, at 14:51.

Both teams traded baskets, with Vanderbilt  (9-5, 0-2) taking the lead at 12:25. The back and forth continued until the two-minute mark when a three from freshman Ignas Sargiunas inked the Georgia lead at 33-31. Claxton added a free throw and the Commodores sank two of their own to head into the half trailing Georgia 34-33.

Within 15 seconds of coming back to the court, Hammond sunk a three to bring the score to 37-33. Vanderbilt answered with back-to-back scores to notch the game, before Ogbeide recaptured the lead. The Commodores tied it again at 39-all for the eighth and final time of the game. Again, Ogbeide layup brought Georgia over the tie margin, which ultimately didn’t change for the rest of the game.

Two free throws from Hammonds ignited a 12-0 run comprised of four Bulldogs to build the Georgia lead to 74-57 with 4:08 left to play. Crump added two free throws to notch the largest lead of the night of 21 points at 81-61 with less than a minute left. The Commodores finished off the scoring with two free throws in the last 30 seconds as Georgia sealed its home conference opener 82-63.

The Bulldogs travel to take on the Auburn Tigers Saturday, January 12 at 4 p.m. on ESPN2.

POST-GAME NOTES

• Another big crowd at Stegemen Coliseum with 9,429 fans. Through eight home games this season, Georgia has averaged 8,182 fans, which is the most since the 2002-03 season.

• Georgia is now 7-3 with the starting line up of William Jackson II, Teshaun Hightower, Rayshaun Hammonds, Nicolas Claxton, and Derek Ogbeide. Bulldogs with consecutive starts are Hammonds (18), Claxton (14), Ogbeide (20), Hightower (8), and Jackson (11). Jackson has 62 career starts.

• Through 14 games this season, Nicolas Claxton has surpassed his block and rebound total of 2017-18.

• Blocks continue for Claxton as he added five to total a SEC-leading 44 blocks on the season for an average of 3.1 a game – also atop of the SEC. He has 27 multi-block games in his 47-game career. He has four 5-block games in his career, all coming this season.

• Rebounds continue for Nicolas Claxton as he had a team-high 12 boards for a SEC-leading 139 total rebounds which moves his average to 9.9 rebounds per game – also atop of the SEC.

• For the 11th time this season, Georgia outrebounded its opponent. Tonight it was a slim edge of 43-41.

• Georgia limited VU, the SEC’s fourth-best scoring offense (82.0 ppg coming in) to 63 points for the Commodores’ second-lowest output of the season.

• The first half was a see-saw affair with six lead changes and six ties for a halftime UGA lead of 34-33. Georgia led for 9:20, while Vandy held the lead for 6:48. The Commodores tied it twice in the second half, but Georgia led the rest of the game.

• Derek Ogbeide eclipsed the 700-rebound mark in his career and moved into the top-10 in Georgia history with 706. He past Tim Bassett (705) who passed away recently on December 9th.

POST-GAME QUOTES

Georgia Head Basketball Coach Tom Crean

On the crowd

“The crowd was fantastic. We had 2700 students, which is 700 over the allotment on the first night back on a Wednesday night. That’s just phenomenal, and I can’t thank them enough. And everyone else, 9400 fans, and this is the only game not sold-out. They made a difference. They were excited. There was a buzz in here, and it was great. There’s no doubt in my mind if we build a crowd this way, it will make such a difference for our team, our program, and our future. It makes such a difference in every possession right now, and we appreciate it.

On the defense…

“We got three stops in a row, seven times. That’s a real big barometer for winning. We track that all the time here. When you get to the end of the game, and you add up the amount of times we got three stops in a row, when you got 7 or more, it’s hard to lose. I think that played into it, we got some deflections, and we held them to one shot. Again, the crowd helped jack us up, and that was a huge part of it.”

Sophomore Forward Rayshaun Hammonds

On his play in the second half and what was important to his play…

My teammates, and the coaching staff. I was keeping a positive vibe with the whole team. Just keeping my head in the game, let it come to me, just don’t rush it. Just giving me confidence the whole game.”

On building momentum…

“Just talking to the team, just being positive with each other, and the whole team coming together really. We all talked to each other, the players on the bench talk to each other, the players on the court talk to each other.”

On frustration after the Tennessee loss and first half of game…

“I can say the Tennessee game, the whole team was frustrated. I was frustrated because we played bad. And the first half I think I let it linger in my head, but I just sat on the bench and just thought about it, and let it go. The second half I just came out with a positive attitude.”

Sophomore Forward Nicolas Claxton

On how important the game tonight was…

It was a great win for us. I know it helped us a lot coming back home in front of our fans. I think we had like 2,700 students there supporting us, so you know that was huge. It was huge getting this first SEC win under our belt. And we will be ready to go to Auburn Saturday.”

On the coaches…

“I just want to give credit to Coach Amir and the GA’s and the coaching staff, they did a great job with the scouting with Vanderbilt.”

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Georgia drops SEC opener at No. 3 Tennessee, 96-50

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Georgia men’s basketball team started Southeastern Conference play with a 96-50 loss to No. 3 Tennessee Saturday afternoon at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The conference’s top two scorers, Tennessee’s junior forward Grant Williams and senior guard Admiral Schofield, proved why they hold the status, putting up 18 points apiece. The defending co-SEC Champions extended their win streak to eight games en route to improving to a 12-1 record overall (1-0 SEC).

Senior forward Derek Ogbeide led the Bulldogs with season-high 17 points and team-high six rebounds as Georgia fell to 8-5 overall (0-1 SEC). The loss snapped Georgia’s three-game win streak in which the Bulldogs did not trail.

“I don’t think we competed at all except for Derek [Ogbeide] at times,” Georgia head coach Tom Crean said. “We didn’t compete and fight and that is my biggest concern with this team. They work hard, but we need to learn how to play hard longer. It is disappointing that they [Tennessee] got a lot of open looks today and you can’t give anybody that many open looks, especially a team that is as good as Tennessee…It was an uphill fight for us three or so minutes into the game. I haven’t seen this team be slower. We have to fix it. We have a long ways to go and a short period of time so we need to get better in a hurry.”

The Vols scored the first points of the contest at the free throw line with Williams going 1-for-2 twice. Sophomore guard Teshaun Hightower led off the Georgia scoring with a jumper to knot the game at 2-all. Tennessee put together the game’s first run to build an 11-4 advantage before Georgia answered back with six straight points.

Later, UT used an 11-0 run to establish a double-digit lead, 25-12, at the 9:17 mark of the first frame. Senior Derek Ogbeide drove the baseline for an acrobatic layup to stop the run, but the Vols continued to add on in the first half for a halftime lead of 53-24.

In the second half, Williams sank a 3-pointer to pick up right where Tennessee left off. Tennessee, SEC’s top scoring offense, enhanced its lead as the second half proceeded until the final buzzer sealed the win in the SEC opener. Joining Williams and Schofield in scoring for the Vols was junior guard Jordan Bowden who had a game-high 20 points.

Ogbeide, of Lagos, Nigeria, passed Trey Thompkins (693) on the Georgia career rebounding list to now stand at No. 11 with 697 total rebounds. Sophomore forward Nicolas Claxton fell into early foul trouble and finished with six points, five rebounds and two blocks.

“We have to learn from this, but we have to turn around for a hungry team [Vanderbilt] and we will play better, but we have to play better longer,” Crean said.

Georgia returns to action for the SEC home opener against Vanderbilt on Wednesday, Jan. 9th. Tipoff is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. ET and will be aired on SEC Network.

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