Hoop Dawgs Hold on to Beat Xavier 78-76 in NIT Opening Round

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Hoop Dawgs Hold on to Beat Xavier 78-76 in NIT Opening Round

The Georgia Bulldogs men’s basketball team defeated the Xavier Musketeers 78-76 in the first round of the 2024 National Invitation Tournament.

To start the game, both teams struggled to score in the first two minutes, until Russel Tchewa converted two free throws to open things up for the Bulldogs. Tchewa scored six of Georgia’s first eight points.





With 12:03 left in the first, RJ Melendez scored a fast break dunk to make the score 17-11 UGA. Xavier guard Dayvion McKnight converted a jumper the next possession to cut the lead back to four.

With 10:08 remaining in the half, Justin Hill drained the first three point basket of the game for the Bulldogs. The next Georgia possession, he would make another three to make the score 25-17 UGA.





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With 2:25 left before the break, Melendez converted the Dawgs’ third three pointer to make the score 38-31 UGA.

In the last seconds of the half, Melendez converted a steal and dunk to give the Bulldogs a 46-34 lead heading into the locker room. Justin Hill led the Bulldogs in scoring with 10 points, going 2-3 from deep. For Xavier, their struggles were from behind the arc, going 1-7. Forward Abou Ousmane led the Musketeers in scoring with 10.

With 18:04 left in the game, Noah Thomasson drilled a deep three point shot at the shot clock buzzer to make the score 51-40 UGA. The following Georgia possession, Blue Cain got the crowd on its feet after converting an and-one play to give the Dawgs a 14 point lead.

With 14:41 remaining, Melendez once again converted a fast break dunk to make the score 58-42 Georgia. Shortly after, he would convert a three pointer after another Xavier turnover to put the Dawgs up by 21.

With 8:11 left, Xavier capped off an 8-0 run after three pointers from guards Quincy Olivari and Desmond Claude to cut the deficit to 13. With 4:49 to go, Desmond made another three pointer to get the Musketeers within single digits at 74-66.

With 2:41 to go, Musketeer forward Lazar Djokovic converted a three pointer of his own to get his team within four points. With 1:35, McKnight made a deep two as the shot clock expired to cut Georgia’s once 21 point lead to two.

With 26 seconds, Demary Jr. converted a layup following an Xavier turnover to get the lead back to four. Following the bucket, Xavier committed another turnover to give the ball back to the Bulldogs. The Musketeers fouled Hill, who missed the first bonus free throw. Xavier would get the rebound and McKnight converted a driving layup to make the score 78-76 Georgia.

With six seconds left, Hill committed an out of bounds turnover to give the ball back to the Musketeers. With just under two seconds to go, Tchewa blocked an Olivari layup attempt that was ruled goaltending but changed after further review. The officials ruled it Xavier ball, giving the Musketeers the final shot to win it with a three or send it to overtime with a two. Xavier coach Sean Miller drew up a play for the two, but they were unable to get the shot off in time, ending the game in a Bulldog victory.

Silas Demary Jr. led Georgia in scoring with 16 points and four assists. Three other Bulldogs finished the night with double-digit points: Hill (10), Thomasson (12), and Melendez (14). Desmond Claude scored 30 points and was Xavier’s leading scorer.

After the game, Coach Mike White jokingly said that he is “cheering for App State” so that the Bulldogs can host the second round game. The Hoop Dawgs will play the winner of Wake Forest vs. Appalachian state this weekend to keep their season alive.

Box Score





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