Things are starting to click in Athens as the Georgia men’s basketball team’s maturity is finally beginning to blossom.
Two weeks ago, Georgia upset the No. 13 Auburn Tigers at home and then followed up the next game with a win against Vanderbilt on the road. Senior Tyree Crump stunned the Commodores with a last-second game-winning shot after Georgia trailed by double-digits with just under 15 minutes left. Wednesday, the Bulldogs battled back-and-forth with South Carolina but lost 94-90 in overtime.
Georgia continued playing well Saturday as they defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks 99-89 at Stegeman Coliseum in front of a sellout crowd.
Georgia was led by freshman Anthony Edwards with 26 points, followed by junior Rayshaun Hammonds with 22, and Tyree Crump had 14. Senior Jordan Harris and freshman Sahvir Wheeler both had 11 apiece, and freshman Toumani Camara added ten.
“We just have been more confident,” said Hammonds in his post-game press conference. “..We shot well as a team, and we played two halves of basketball. Like Tyree (Crump) said, that’s what coach (Tom) Crean said to us in the locker room at halftime.
Not even four minutes into the game, Georgia jumped to a 14-0 lead with baskets from Edwards, Hammonds, and Wheeler. Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman burned two of his team’s four timeouts in the first 3:56 of play, but the Razorbacks responded well with a trio of three-pointers cutting the lead to 16-9.
Georgia continued to shoot well as Hammonds had 14 of his points in the first ten minutes. At the 8:35 mark, the Bulldogs lead 36-18 as Edwards added another five points to push his points total to 10. They were also out-rebounding their opponent 15-4 at that point.
The pace slowed down as Georgia led 40-25 with four minutes to go, and it helped as Arkansas went without a field goal for 6:25. That was until Razorbacks’ Isaiah Joe hit a jumper with 3:18 left ending the streak. They were able to cut the lead to single digits with just under a minute left, but Hammonds nailed a three-pointer to put Georgia’s lead back to 11.
Joe got hot in the final minute and a half, scoring 10 straight points for the Razorbacks, but it wasn’t enough as Georgia led 47-39 at the break. The Bulldogs were shooting 56% (19 of 34) from the field, and 45% (5 of 11) from beyond the arc. Hammonds led in scoring with 17 points, followed by Edwards with 10, and Wheeler added seven.
“Rayshaun (Hammonds) was locked in in that first half,” said Georgia head coach Tom Crean. “Everybody, the coaches, the players, said he was shooting well in the pregame warmups. He just went out there and was the main focus when we went on that 14-0 run.”
Arkansas started out the second half on a 5-0 run and cut Georgia’s lead to three, but Georgia continued shooting well. Wheeler added a pair of layups to put Georgia up 56-48 with 15:14 left. Harris and freshman Toumani Camara added two nice slams the next two possessions to push Georgia’s lead further.
Arkansas’ Mason Jones and Desi Sills made a difference in the second half as they led the charge pulling the Razorbacks back to within five with 7:23 left. Jones’ layup with 6:57 to go made the score 73-70, and the Razorbacks got the lead to just one. But a three-point play, the old-fashioned way, by Hammonds pushed Georgia’s lead back up to four.
Arkansas was able to get within one possession again, but Georgia was able to close out the game strong out-scoring the Razorbacks 15-5 in the last 1:07. Edwards finished the game scoring the last eight points for Georgia.
“The ball was moving, and Anthony (Edwards) played with his eyes up. We ask a lot of him, and he is only getting better,” said Crean.
Georgia ended the contest shooting 57% (38 of 67) as they advanced to 15-14 overall, and 5-11 in conference play. Arkansas falls to 18-11 on the season, and 6-10 in the SEC.
Next up, Georgia has a rematch against Florida at home at 7 p.m. in Stegeman Coliseum.