The Georgia Bulldogs defeated the Montana Grizzlies 63-50 on Tuesday night at Stegeman Coliseum. The Bulldogs came in averaging 89 points per game, which was third-best in the Southeastern Conference. However, it was the defense, not the offense, that carried Georgia to its fourth straight win.
When the Grizzlies scored their first basket two and a half minutes into the first half, they were already facing a seven point deficit. Georgia then jumped out to a 15-2 lead within the first six minutes and never trailed from there.
All five Georgia starters scored before the first media timeout, and it seemed the Bulldogs might cruise to another win. Montana, though, answered with a 13-2 run of its own to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to just three points with 6:39 to go in the first half.
“Tonight was the definition of a grinder,” said Georgia head coach Tom Crean. “We did defend. We did rebound. For the most part, we got out and ran and pushed it, and we found a way to win the game.”
Georgia did rebound and defend well tonight. The Bulldogs forced the Grizzlies to shoot 35.3% from the field and outrebounded Montana 49-30, with 18 of those rebounds being offensive. This helped Georgia control points in the paint, where they outscored Montana 40-16.
The Bulldogs then settled in defensively, forcing multiple Montana turnovers before they extended their lead to nine at half, leading 32-24 at the break. Montana had 15 turnovers and only nine made field goals in the first half.
Toumani Camara had his best game yet as a Georgia Bulldog, recording his first career double-double. Camara scored 15 points and added a career high 17 rebounds. Camara emphasized the importance of hustle and rebounding after the game.
“At the end of the day, it’s a team sport so I cannot just lay down and relax, because I have four other dudes relying on me on the court,” said Camara.
Andrew Garcia, a Stony Brook transfer, came off the bench and added 13 points as well as five rebounds. Although Garcia was not a starter this game, Crean said he is a player who could be a starter in the future.
“Anything coach Crean puts me in, I’m willing to do,” said Garcia. “I value winning more than anything, and the more we win, the more success everybody gets as a whole.”
Coming into the game, sophomore guard Sahvir Wheeler was averaging a double-double on the season, and was leading the NCAA in assists with 10.7 per game. Wheeler struggled on Tuesday night though, only scoring nine points on 4 of 14 shooting. Wheeler had a season-low five assists and picked up four fouls.
Georgia will also have to work on avoiding turnovers, especially as conference play approaches. The Bulldogs turned the ball over 18 times Tuesday night, only two times less than the Grizzlies, who totaled 20 turnovers.
Kyle Owens entered Tuesday’s game as Montana’s leading scorer and rebounder. He led in the scoring category again for the Grizzlies, totaling 17 points and added six rebounds. Eddy Egun scored three of Montana’s five made 3-pointers.
Georgia remains undefeated, improving to 4-0 this season, and will be back in action on Saturday at home against Samford. Montana drops to 0-4 and will fly back home and have a week to get ready for its matchup against Washington on Dec. 16.