MBB: Crean, players talk about the meltdown in Gainesville

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MBB: Crean, players talk about the meltdown in Gainesville

UGA men's basketball head coach Tom Crean
UGA men’s basketball head coach Tom Crean

In Georgia’s 81-75 loss to Florida, the Bulldogs blew a 22 point lead after going scoreless for multiple minutes on two separate occasions Wednesday night.

The Bulldogs dominated in the first half leading 41-26 going into halftime, and to start the second half, they continued to shoot well leading by 22 with 16:30 left on the clock; however, that’s when the Gators went on a 17-3 over the next few minutes.

“I think a few things went wrong,” said graduate transfer Donnell Gresham Jr. Friday afternoon. “We kind of let them get their confidence in the second half and we let get some shots coming. The zone messed us up as we didn’t get many quality looks in the second half.

After shooting 55 percent (17 of 31) from the field in the first half, the Bulldogs offense went freezing cold after Florida transitioned into a zone not allowing the Bulldogs to drive inside.

Freshman standout Anthony Edwards had an incredible first-half scoring 18 points, and going 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. As a team, the Bulldogs shot just under 50 percent from the three-point line the first half, but the second half didn’t bode so well for them in that category.

“I don’t know what specifically happened because we go over plays and practice against it,” said Gresham when asked about going up against the zone. “So what we’ve practiced hasn’t played over into games and haven’t executed down the stretch.”

Georgia has led by 20 points or more in the last three games but has given up those leads on two of those occasions. Against Missouri, Georgia led by 20 with 13:13 left and got outplayed in those last 12 minutes which resulted in the Bulldogs leaving Columbia with a loss.

UGA men’s basketball head coach Tom Crean this season has preached that youth is a huge problem, but he gave a different answer Friday when talking about the game in Gainesville.

“We’ve got to do a better job of closing and it all comes downs to ball defense more than anything else,” Crean said. “I mean certainly you miss shots in those situations, and maybe you don’t get the shots you want or the offensive rebound. Not even as much as the other day when we came back, we missed a couple layups and an open three. We didn’t really get shots to go down on that run that they went on, but it really comes down to defense. That’s where we need to get better.”

Tom Crean during Georgia vs. SMU on December 20, 2019
Tom Crean during Georgia vs. SMU on December 20, 2019

As of Friday, Georgia is allowing 73.8 points per game and on average opposing teams shoot 44.6 percent from the field against the Bulldogs. One of Georgia’s biggest problems is the fact that they lack a true center on their roster.

“We have to do a lot better of keeping opponents outside of the paint. They hammered inside the paint in the second half. We’ve got to guard the ball better whether it’s a switching situation, man, zone, whatever. Whatever it is, we’ve got to do a much better job on defense.”

Georgia allowed 16 points inside the paint in the second half against Florida, and they let the Gators grab six offensive boards.

“I think we just got quiet. They ran a real good zone against us that gave us problems,” said senior Jordan Harris. “We just riled up as a team when teams go on runs against us, especially on the road. It’s just something we have to keep getting better at. It’s more of staying energized.”

Georgia returns to action against Alabama on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. ET.

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Currently an intern for BI, and a junior journalism major at the University of Georgia.