MBB: Dawgs Put Away SC State, 76-60

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MBB: Dawgs Put Away SC State, 76-60

Georgia basketball player Aaron Cook (10) during a match against South Carolina State in Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga., on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. (Photo by Mackenzie Miles)

Following a tough 5-point road loss last Saturday at Cincinnati, the UGA Men’s Basketball team responded with an emphatic 76-60 victory over South Carolina State on Tuesday night in Stegman Coliseum. 

The starting backcourt led the way for the Dawgs on both ends of the floor all night as Aaron Cook and Kario Oquendo contributed 22 and 17 points, respectively, while combining for 7 steals. Omar Croskey carried the load for South Carolina State in scoring 19 points, 15 of which resulted from his 5 made 3-Pointers. 





Georgia came out of the gate hot to begin the game, starting 3/3 from the field with a dunk from Kario Oquendo and 3-Pointers from Aaron Cook and Noah Baumann to take an early 8-2 lead. Another 3-Pointer from Baumann and low-post score from Braelen Bridges in the team’s second 5-point run of the first 4 minutes gave the Dawgs a 13-4 lead entering the first media timeout. This 9-Point lead would eventually increase to 15 following another dunk from Oquendo, bringing the score to 28-13 with 12:47 remaining in the first half. Entering the second media timeout, the Bulldogs held a 14-point lead while shooting 13/17 from the floor and 4/7 from 3-Point range, adding 9 fast break points and 6 points off turnovers in the first eight and a half minutes of action. The Georgia lead would eventually be cut to just 5 points at a score of 38-33 following a 9-point SC State run which included back-to-back 3-Pointers from Croskey with 3:17 to go. The Dawgs would increase the margin to 10 points at a halftime score of 45-35. 

The two squads battled back and forth for the first 10 minutes of the second half, trading baskets to induce a fluctuating UGA lead of between 5 and 10 points during this period. UGA’s largest scoring run of the night of 8 points over 1:30 with contributing field goals from Cook and Christian Wright brought the Georgia lead from 5 to 13 at a score of 64-51with 8:35 remaining in the contest. The advantage remained between 11 and 14 points until another Bulldog scoring burst of 7 points over 1:02 led by Bridges and Oquendo gave the team their largest lead of the game at 19 with a score of 76-57 with 2:43 to play. A layup from Jemal Davis and free throw from Daequan Davis would reduce the margin to 16 points and provide a final score of 76-60 in favor of UGA. 

The main storyline from Tuesday night’s game was the coming out party for Kario Oquendo. The sophomore shooting guard hit 7 of his 13 field goal attempts and harassed opposing ballhandlers all night, recording 4 steals. However, the primary value added by Oquendo was not on the offensive or defensive end of the court was rather felt in terms of the energy his play injected into the arena. Oquendo had 4 dunks in the contest, one of which was a flashy fast-break windmill and another an emphatic two-handed poster over a SC State defender that sent the home crowd into a frenzy. His athleticism was on full display as he flew around the court and repeatedly jumped out of the gym, both of which allowed the team to dictate the pace of the game in their favor. Oquendo also sunk two impressive 3-Point shots





Aaron Cook had his most efficient offensive game of the season, converting on 8 of his 11 field goal attempts, 3 of which came from 3-Point range, and adding 7 assists. He led the team in minutes played once again with 36 and controlled the tempo throughout the contest, demonstrating his tremendous leadership ability by consistently making the right play to manage the momentum of the game. Providing tangible insight into Cook’s leadership in a post-game press conference, Head Coach Tom Crean shared a story in which the veteran point guard held his teammates back after the coaching staff had left their pregame walk-through to conduct transition defense drills entirely on his own prerogative. This wildly impressed Crean, who implied that Cook actively plays a tremendous role in pointing the entire program in the right direction. 
The win on Tuesday brings UGA to 2-1 on the year as the team prepares to face defending ACC champion and archrival Georgia Tech on Friday, November 19th in Stegman Coliseum.





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