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.