After Georgia upsets the 13th-ranked Tigers, 65-55, in Stegeman Coliseum on Wednesday night, Auburn men’s basketball head coach Bruce Pearl fields questions about the game and discusses the loss to the Bulldogs.
Coach Pearl’s opening statement:
“It’s hard to make history. This is a great rivalry. This game matters more to us because it’s Georgia. It matters more to our fans… I thought Georgia played well. I thought [Georgia Head Coach] Tom [Crean] had them prepared. I thought they had great balance. I thought they had a great defensive game plan. If you look at our numbers, they held us to 31 percent shooting and did a good job of not fouling us. We shot 47 free throws at Missouri in a loss and tonight we shot 13. [Georgia] did a good job of really trying to emphasize defending without fouling. It’s a great win for them.”
“For us, we actually played better defensively. I thought we had greater effort and energy. I thought we competed well. A couple things we didn’t do – I thought we turned them over a little bit. I thought we showed [Anthony] Edwards some help and tried to get him turned over a little bit and let him see some bodies. [It was good] for us to hold them down to 65 points. [I was] disappointed in the way the game ended, just because 10 points on the road makes a difference as far as the net rankings are concerned. From that standpoint, it hurts us in those last couple positions where we had a chance to have it at five and have a five-point loss on the road instead of a 10-point loss on the road. [It was a] disappointing ending. Obviously, J’Von McCormick was terrific. He obviously played hard and played effectively. We just did not give him enough help. I thought Jaylin Williams coming in and playing the most he’s played all season long, again just trying to find a way at the three and four position to make up for Isaac Okoro who I think is as good as any player in our league.”
Coach Pearl on what Coach Crean has been able to do in two seasons at Georgia:
“Just look at this building. Just look at the energy of the building and the student support and the energy that he brings. He’s recruited really well, and he’s got a lot of kids coming back. That’s a good, young team. I think what you see in this league is that it’s very competitive. It just is. Back when I was at Tennessee, there were a couple of teams that weren’t very good. Georgia was one of them. I’m not saying that to be critical, they just weren’t. When I was at Tennessee, Auburn wasn’t very good. Who’s not very good now? I don’t think anybody is. The league’s changed. [There are] 14 really good teams in the league with great commitment. Tom’s got a program and a roster that can compete in the SEC. I know he’s trying to build toward the tournament.”
Coach Pearl on how to get through early seasons rebuilding a culture as a young coach:
“It’s just the culture. It’s a rebuilding culture, and it’s a work ethic. Adversity reveals culture and your adversity gets revealed when you get beat. In the last couple of years, we’ve had a few more guys that were here that lost those games. You’ve got to eat some of that for a little while. It doesn’t taste good, and then you’ve got to do something about it the following year. If you can manage like we were able to manage last year at the end of the year, we won 12-straight. It can happen.”