Georgia (10-18, 1-14) lost once again in the final seconds of the game. This time to Auburn (19-9, 8-7) 78-75 at home in Stegeman Coliseum. In the past three games the Bulldogs have lost by a combined five points. With only three games left in the regular season, the team does have much time to claim a win.
Georgia found itself in trouble when they gave up 50 points in the first half of the game due to a lagging defense. This is the most amount of points the team has given up in the first 20 minutes since they let Tennessee score 53 at the beginning of January.
The Bulldogs were floundering before halftime. The Tigers padded their first half score with eight 3-pointers and Georgia, known for their high turnover rate, gave the ball up 10 times. Auburn took full advantage registering 15 point off of the turnovers. The teams left the court and went into the locker room 50-40 with Auburn in the lead.
Georgia’s defense showed up strong after the half knocking the Tigers’ field goal percentage down to .390 from .500 and 3-point percentage to .270 from .400. The offense showed up as well putting up 22 points in the paint while maintaining a .600 field goal percentage.
After Nicolas Claxton hit a 3-pointer to tie it up 75-75 with 54 seconds left, Chuma Okeke followed suit. His shot pushed Auburn into the lead to win the game by three. Tyree Crump made a last-minute attempt to go into overtime with a shot 3-point shot towards the basket.
This is the second consecutive game that Claxton has made a shot from beyond the arc to tie the game seconds before Georgia was handed a loss.
Auburn accomplished what they came to do: keep their hopes of postseason play alive.
Jared Harper said before the game. “This is a crucial game for us playing on the road at Georgia,” Jared Harper said before the game. “Georgia is a good team at home. We definitely need this win.”
Georgia will travel to Gainesville, Florida on Saturday for a rematch with the Gators at 8:30 p.m.
Tom Crean Postgame:
Q. Did you all talk about doing more than just the 3 there, maybe driving it?
COACH CREAN: Of course we did. We had a play call on. We had a play called for man or zone out of the — before we took the — before they made the shot. And we just didn’t execute it. We wanted to get a ball screen up high. Have Derek — what we call a roll screen for Tyree. And duck in Nick and the post and lift Jordan and there’s plenty of time. 25 seconds like that. Even when we got the ball entered, plenty of time to score.
It’s not just about the 3. It’s about the layup, the close shot or the foul. And if a 3 permeates from that, then that’s fine too. Now if it gets — when it got underneath that and we’re driving it now you need a 3. But always trying to extend the game there. It was not about let’s come down and bang a 3 right away. We practice — we don’t talk about — we don’t talk about the shot we’ve got to get in that situation, we talk about stretching the game, lengthening the game.
But again, we’ve had numerous opportunities to win at the end. These guys have done a tremendous job of connectedness, being together, coming back in these games. We have to do a better job at the beginning and the middle. And that’s what we have to learn from. That’s easier said than done. Very proud of the way they come back. I’m very proud of the way the fans were just absolutely incredible.
The level of support and passion. But we didn’t execute. But again going back to we’d like to have a situation there end a game like that, because we didn’t need a timeout. We just had one. Have you to have a play ready for man or zone. And that’s what we had. And we just didn’t get it as well.
Q. Feels like it’s probably beyond saying that you’ve improved. I sense a little bit more exasperation tonight because you’re getting so close but not able to get over the hump.
COACH CREAN: Yeah, we’ll bounce back. Always do bounce back. It’s a raw game, right? And it’s tough to lose that way. And he made a, Chuma made a tough 3, hand in his face; he was fading away. He was shooting 47 percent from 3 at home, 32 on the road. And he hit his second one tonight. No, we were certainly not backing off. Played the majority of those guys as 3-point shooters.
But he hit a fade-away 3. And we had our hand up but we just didn’t get our execution at the end. But we’ve got to learn to play a 40-minute game. That’s one of the things in our heart — you certainly want to value of being able to come back and having chances to win it. But we’ve got to do a better job at the middle. Sometimes at the beginning.
Q. In the second half, there were a lot of putbacks and interior defense mishaps, rebounds and second-chance points?
COACH CREAN: Second-chance points is the story. We really have to come back and look at the number one glaring statistic especially the way we took care of the ball better in the second half. It’s the second-chance points. The rebound numbers are fairly close. But the second-chance points that’s what they do they’re as good as anybody in the league at sending 3 to the glass consistently. And because we have to switch more, because we’re not as good guarding the dribble. And it ends up our bigs are up, right, whether we’re man or zone. We were zone a lot in the second half. But everybody’s got to be committed to rebounding. And there were some glaring missed blockouts.
Q. I wanted to ask you, how much of an impact do you think not having Rayshaun in this game?
COACH CREAN: Yeah, I think there’s no question. You’ve been here all year. He’s one of our leading scorers. He’s a glue guy in so many ways. You have to guard him. He’s a 3-point threat. He can make free throws. What he is, he’s by far our best inbounder, whether it’s baseline, sideline, full court, three-quarter court whatever it is he’s the best. You train other guys but at the end of the day he’s very good at that. So no question we missed him. I’m proud of the way they all came back.
Q. I was going to ask about Rayshaun in terms of what he’s dealing with?
COACH CREAN: He’s dealing with his foot. We’ll be day to day with that, get a feel more where it’s at tomorrow. And look at it from there. He got hurt on Saturday that no one really knew. I don’t think he really knew until he felt it on Monday. So that’s where we’re at with that.
Q. There were a couple of Atlanta kids made shots there at the end for Auburn and Coach Pearl came in and talked about how important this win was and the Georgia/Auburn rivalry. You’re new to this scene, but do you get that sense that the basketball rivalry, the football rivalry, Georgia/Auburn, fighting for Atlanta kids, all that stuff?
COACH CREAN: I don’t know. It’s a rivalry with a lot of people. He’s done a really good job recruiting Atlanta, recruiting Georgia. So he’s done a very good job of that. Other than that, I don’t really have much of an opinion on that. So I’m sure I’ll gain one over a period of time when you see more of those games. But there’s a lot of hard games in this league. In fact, every one of them. So…
Q. I think Jordan had another career points night for him. Something clicked for him in the last few days?
COACH CREAN: He’s gaining confidence, rebounding better. I think that was the biggest thing we needed to get to for him to play more. Basically a while back the conversation is what do I have to do to play more. I said it starts with the rebounding. Absolutely starts with the rebounding, because I’m used to being in a situation where we’re sending four to the offensive glass. We can’t do that with this team right now. So we just don’t have that. We’ve got to have enough. So whether he’s one, two, or three, as far as a guy that’s consistent going to the offensive boards we need that. And he’s done a very good job of that. He’s gained his confidence. He’s worked extremely hard. He’s a great example of hard work, commitment to improvement, commitment to the right attitude. Commitment to persevering. Not getting down when things weren’t going his way. Not pouting. Just continuing to build forward. And I think it’s fantastic. And he’s a key integral part of our team.