It was an emotional night for the Georgia basketball program as the team honored three seniors before the game; Jordan Harris, Tyree Crump, and Donnell Gresham Jr.
Even though it was Senior Night, it was the same story for Georgia as turnovers, scoring droughts, and a poor shooting performance led the Gators to defeat the Bulldogs, 68-54.
Georgia was off to a hot start in the first few minutes, but especially junior Rayshaun Hammonds. Hammonds had eight of his 10 opening half points in the first 3:56 of play, as Georgia jumped out to a 14-6 lead.
Out of the first media timeout, freshman Anthony Edwards heaved up an alley-oop pass than was dunked by Jordan Harris.
“It was a good feeling seeing the crowd get hyped up after that,” said Harris. “..Dawg Nation never lets down, and never gave up on me during my career here. It was good to see them fill out this place for Tyree (Crump) and I’s last game.”
Edwards followed with a 3-pointer that gave Georgia a 19-6 lead, but after that Georgia went scoreless for exactly seven minutes of gameplay. During that span, Florida went on a 6-0, but Tyree Crump broke the streak with a layup at the 8:01 mark.
In the first few minutes, the Bulldogs started out a perfect 100% (7-for-7) from the field but came away empty on nine straight possessions during that seven-minute scoreless span.
They almost went scoreless for another four minutes, but freshman Sahvir Wheeler finally hit a layup at the 3:30 mark. At that point, Georgia had gone empty on 14-of-16 of their possessions since their hot start.
At halftime, Georgia led 30-28 led by Hammonds with 10, followed by Wheeler and Harris with five, respectively. The Bulldogs were shooting just 46% (12-of-16) at halftime, compared to Florida’s 40% (13-of-32). The Gators were also shooting 0% from the 3-point line in the first half.
The Gators’ Scottie Lewis scored the first points of the second half tying the game at 30 apiece. Then, Georgia was able to draw four personal fouls in the first 2:30 of play as Edwards knocked down a few three throws. Freshman Toumani’s Camera’s dunk with 14:54 left gave Georgia a three-point lead, but tied the game on a Tre Mann triple.
It was neck and neck until Lewis knocked down a pair of freebies, then Andrew Nembhard hit Florida’s second 3-pointer of the game extending their lead to five.
Georgia responded after another multi-minute scoring drought with a 6-0 run giving them a 46-45 lead with 7:47 left in the game. Sophomore Tye Fagan contributed four of those points. Those were the Upson-Lee product’s first baskets of the night.
Out of the third media timeout, Nembhard hit a pair of three throws, followed by consecutive 3-pointers from Noah Locke giving the Gators a seven-point lead with 5:54 left. Wheeler cut Florida’s lead to five, but the next trip down the floor Keyontae Johnson nailed a dagger 3-pointer.
That was pretty much all she wrote as Georgia couldn’t recover after falling behind by double-digits with 2:53 left. Edwards was able to get the game back to within 10 with a pair of free throws, but Locke jacked up another triple to put Florida up 12.
After shooting 0% from beyond the arc in the first half, the Gators shot an impressive 54% (7-of-13) in the final 20 minutes.
“They took advantage of us defensively, and we weren’t able to score baskets when it mattered,” said head coach Tom Crean in his opening statement of the post-game press conference. “..Our margin for error is certainly not there for us to miss shots, but also to give up that many three’s or other baskets.”
The Bulldogs were led by Edwards with 14 points, four rebounds, and three assists. Hammonds had another double-double with 12 points, and 10 rebounds. Wheeler finished with eight points, and Harris added seven.
Georgia ended up shooting 43.5% (20-of-46) from the field, and 33% (5-of-15) from beyond the arc.
Edwards chalked up the team’s poor shooting performance due to a lethargic warmup session.
“In warmups, I wasn’t really feeling it. We weren’t really feeling it as a team,” said Edwards looking at Harris. “It was like we weren’t really energized at all before the game, despite the quick start.”
Crean finalized that it was not a collective effort from all of his players Wednesday.
“I saw a couple of guys tonight that just hung their heads, and that’s disappointing,” said Crean. “But it’s also disappointing to be inconsistent.”
Georgia (15-15, 5-12) travels to Baton Rouge Saturday for their final game of the season as they take on LSU at 2 p.m. CST.