It was a tale of two halves for the Georgia Bulldogs on Tuesday in their 76-58 win over the Northeastern Huskies. Coming off the biggest win of the season against Cincinnati, there were worries that this could be a “trap game” for the undefeated Bulldogs.
Despite a rough first half on defense, Georgia completely turned it around in the second half, only allowing 13 points after the intermission on the way to a seventh straight victory. The Bulldogs were led by graduate transfer Andrew Garcia, who scored 15 points off of the bench.
At times, Tuesday night felt like Deja Vu of the Samford matchup, where Georgia trailed almost the entire game. However, Georgia proved its resilience again, coming back from another double-digit deficit this time to win by 18 points.
“You don’t like it when it’s happening, but you certainly appreciate it when it’s over,” said Georgia head coach Tom Crean about the team’s comeback attempts. “To learn those things and have those experiences are really important.”
The Bulldogs opened the game with about as sloppy of a performance as they’ve had this year, registering five turnovers before the first media timeout. On the other hand, Northeastern could not miss from 3-point range, shooting 9 of 13 (69.2%) in the first half, and led 45-32 heading into the break.
Georgia went from trailing 50-36 in the second half, to leading 57-50 after a 21-0 scoring run. That then continued into a 31-2 run over 14 minutes in the second half. The Bulldogs forced the Huskies to go scoreless for over 10 minutes as well, where at one point Northeastern missed 14 shots in a row.
“They were getting it going, so I knew we had to get stops,” said Garcia. “I just knew when I came in the game, I have to rebound, stay in front of my man, get those stops and get everybody’s confidence up.”
Coach Crean has stressed a “collective effort,” all season, especially because of the size that Georgia lacks. The Bulldogs got that again tonight, but it was clear once Georgia got Toumani Camara playing well, they were a much better team. Camara was just recently named SEC player of the week and finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.
“He’s versatile… he’s very aggressive… and he’s playing with confidence,” said Crean. “He’s not playing 100% healthy, but he’s playing with confidence.”
Crean highlighted Northeastern guard Tyson Walker as one of the better guards the Bulldogs will play against this season. Walker had a game-high 19 points, but 14 of those points came in the first half. Georgia used bigger defenders to guard him, like Garcia, in the second half to slow his production.
Georgia (7-0) now gets a week off before heading to conference play, where they will host Mississippi State on Dec. 30. Northeastern drops to 1-4 on the season and will have a long break before its first CAA matchup with Elon on Jan. 2.