ATHENS, Ga.– Four double-digit Bulldogs led the University of Georgia men’s basketball team to a 91-72 victory in front of a capacity crowd of 10,523 in Stegeman Coliseum on Sunday evening.
“The [fans] want to see big house, and that’s exactly what’s happened here,” Georgia head coach Tom Crean said. “We take none of it for granted,”. “It’s very much appreciated, even going to the alumni band. It’s very much appreciated. Everybody matters if we’re going to build this the way that we want to build it. And to be able to say now that we had a sellout crowd on a non-league game two days before our football team plays in the bowl and at Christmas break here right now, that’s phenomenal. That’s absolutely phenomenal.”
The Bulldogs picked up their third-straight victory with sophomore Nicolas Claxton at the helm, leading with 20 points and 11 boards. His sixth double-double of the season was paired with three blocks, contributing to his conference-leading 37 total blocks and 3.1 blocks per game.
For the seventh-consecutive contest this season, freshman Rayshaun Hammonds checked in with double-digit points (18). All but two games for the sophomore have resulted in 10 points or more.
A Claxton dunk within the first 30 seconds of play jumpstarted a 12-2 opening Bulldog run, featuring six points from senior Derek Ogbeide, who finished with 12 points on the night. At the 12:37 mark, junior Tyree Crump sank a 3-pointer before a defensive rebound from junior Jordan Harris resulted in two points and a Minutemen timeout. The Bulldog defense limited UMass, who leads its conference in scoring offense (79.8 ppg), to single-digit points through nearly half of the opening frame (9:09).
With less than a minute remaining in the first half, a Hammonds steal paved the way for a Crump 3-pointer, his second of three on the night. Before the clock diminished, Hammonds found the ball again, this time behind the arc, to reach double-digits and send Georgia into the half at 43-32. Nine Bulldogs registered points in the first half, led by Hammonds with 10.
In the second half, the Bulldogs built their lead to as many as 19 points on two occasions, helped by 13 second-half points from Claxton. Georgia maintained a 13-plus margin through the remaining minutes, putting up a final 91 points, the most of any Minutemen opponent this season besides sixth-ranked Nevada.
For the 10thtime this season, the Bulldogs, who entered the contest ranked second in average rebound margin (+7.6), outrebounded its opponent. Against UMass, Georgia posted a 16-rebound margin with 43 boards to the Minutemen’s 27.
Up next, the Bulldogs open Southeastern Conference play in Knoxville, Tennessee, against the third-ranked Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday, January 5.