Georgia men’s basketball suffered a painful defeat last night to No. 12 Kentucky 69-49 in Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia. The Bulldogs are now 1-3 in the SEC, 7-2 at home and 9-7 overall.
Georgia started off strong putting up 11 points in the first six minutes of the game, 10 of which were from dunks. Derek Ogbeide came out with three and Nicolas Claxton came out with two. At 12:05 in the first half, the Wildcats took the lead and held it until the Bulldogs tied it up twice with less than five minutes left before the halftime buzzer. Despite remaining relatively close throughout the remainder of the game, Georgia failed to ever regain the lead. Head coach Tom Crean said the momentum fell off when Georgia tried to make plays that just were not there. He also spoke about senior Ogbeide saying that he is thrown the ball to either score or get fouled not to stand on the court like an “hourglass” wasting time.
Freshman Wildcat Ashton Hagans, a former Georgia commit, could be seen running all over the court and his opponents. After scoring eight points in the first half alone, Hagans came out of the locker room at half time fired up and almost doubled his points in the first two and a half minutes of the game. He was the first to put points up on the board after the break and started out with a three-pointer and finished with two layups in the paint of the fast break all in immediate succession. Hagans went on to finished the game with 23 points, five rebounds and four assists.
“We gave them too much room in the paint. We let our guard down on Hagans after he made the three. Like, so what he made a three let’s keep him out of the paint,” said Crean. “That is where he creates the problems. He creates problems in the paint when he scores there or when he kicks it out because you start chasing the ball.”
Georgia dropped the ball quite literally. Many times. Kentucky scored 14 of their points off of turnovers. It is not a surprising statistic when one remembers how many times the ball just fell out of Georgia players’ hands.
“We don’t want the ball to fall out of their hands. I can promise you that. So, I will have to watch that. I thought there were a couple times that we didn’t look at our target and they shot the gap on that. There were a couple of those for sure,” said Crean. “We had a couple seniors do that and that is a joke. You get in this position right now and it is your senior year at Georgia you cannot make those passes.”
The game was the first out of six-consecutive sold out games in Athens. With Crean as head coach in his first year at Georgia, the team has already sold out seven games total which has not been done in the program since the 2002-03 season when they had nine. Although, Kentucky fans seemed to ruin the idea of a Georgia home court advantage. They were just as loud if not louder than Georgia fans when the stadium shook with the sound of “Go Big Blue” late in the second half as it became clear that Kentucky would claim the victory.
Georgia is set to host their rival Florida on Saturday at noon in Athens at Stegeman Coliseum. The Bulldogs fifth SEC game will be aired on CBS.