The University of Georgia Men’s Basketball team was defeated by Gardner-Webb 77-60 on Wednesday night in Stegman Coliseum.
Braelen Bridges carried the Dawgs with 17 points and 7 rebounds while Gardner-Webb received equal contributions of 14 points from Lance Terry, Jordan Sears, and Zion Williams.
Wednesday’s contest was decidedly a one-sided affair, as Georgia did not lead in the game after holding a 4-3 advantage after just over 2 minutes of action.
In a post-game press conference, starting forward Noah Baumann commented on the recurring dilemma of slow starts for the Bulldogs, as the group found themselves in a big hole early while trailing 17-8 heading into the first media timeout. Baumann noted that “it’s hard to just crawl and crawl and try to fight our way back every game,” adding that he has been emphasizing the importance of beginning the game strong to the starting group and that coming out of the gate hot will be crucial for the team moving forward. Coach Tom Crean further noted that the team “can’t afford to get off to bad starts,” implying the importance of doing a better job setting the tone early in games.
After sinking a season-high total of 3-Pointers in their last outing, the Dawgs cooled off considerably from beyond the arc in the loss to Gardner-Webb, shooting just 3-19. Baumann went 2-5 from long range while Jabri Abdur-Rahim converted 1 of his 2 attempts.
Georgia played without Junior guard Jaxon Etter, who was sidelined with back spasms. After the game, Tom Crean commented on the significance of his absence, saying that Etter brings “an incredible level of physical toughness, but really that mental toughness and ball movement, and we really didn’t make up for that.”
Freshman guard Cam McDowell received his most meaningful playing time so far this season, logging 14 minutes of action on Wednesday night. Despite his lack of experience, McDowell was the only Georgia player who played over 4 minutes that recorded a positive +/-, finishing the game as a +1. Coach Crean noted that McDowell had an extremely good three days of practice heading into the game and added that the youngster could see a larger role in future games if his practice intensity continues.
During his interview, Crean took full responsibility for the loss in saying that “I put it all on myself. I’m the coach, so I’ve got to do a better job all the way around.”
The loss on Wednesday brings Georgia to 5-8 on the year heading into their SEC schedule. The Dawgs will begin conference play on Tuesday, January 4th at home against the 11-2 Texas A&M Aggies.