Powered by sophomore Sahvir Wheeler’s third-consecutive double-double, the University of Georgia men’s basketball team defeated Jacksonville, 98-65, Friday evening before 1,638 spectators at Stegeman Coliseum. The Bulldogs (3-0) outscored the Dolphins (3-1) by a 52-29 margin in the second half to take control and seal their third victory of the week.
Wheeler tallied 21 points on 8-for-18 shooting, along with 10 assists, four rebounds, and two steals, making him the first Bulldog to post 20 points and 10 assists since J.J. Frazier against Baylor on Jan. 30, 2016. Fellow sophomore Toumani Camara matched his career-high 19 points from Wednesday’s game against North Georgia, finishing 8-for-13 with seven rebounds and four assists.
Four additional Bulldogs posted double-digit scoring performances, led by graduate P.J. Horne with 14 points and two 3-pointers. For the night, Georgia shot 51.4 percent from the field, including a season-high eight makes from beyond the arc. The Bulldogs notched 15 steals on the evening, the most for the program since picking off 20 against USC Upstate on Nov. 14, 2008.
“It was a really good win for us,” said head coach Tom Crean following the game. “We got to the foul line—not as early as we needed to, but to go 14-of-18, we’ll take that. We made eight threes. Another thing we haven’t done here, which is going to be a huge part, is we had six guys in double-figures.”
Both teams took advantage of their transition games in the early going, with Jacksonville using solid play in the paint to take a 9-8 advantage into the first media timeout. Following the opening burst, the Bulldogs took advantage of a Dolphin drought, notching 10 straight points punctuated by a windmill slam from Camara. The scoring run continued for the Bulldogs, who extended their lead to as many as 16 points with just over nine minutes to play in the half.
Jacksonville started to cut into its deficit as the first half wore on, relying again on its speed to narrow the score to 30-22 at the five-minute mark. However, Georgia remained stout in transition, scoring four consecutive fast-break buckets to keep the distance intact, including a clutch put-back from Horne on a missed layup. With both teams working into the bonus in the final minutes of the period, foul shooting set the halftime score at 46-36.
Following a scoreless first half, junior Tye Fagan opened the second half with a pair of layups, but strong shooting from the Dolphins kept them within striking distance at 55-47 at the first break. Fagan eventually finished with 10 points, shooting 5-for-5 from the field. With each team reaching the bonus by the 11-minute mark, foul trouble started to become a concern for both squads as their offensive outputs faltered as well.
Nonetheless, solid shooting from the line helped the Bulldogs reassert themselves in the contest. Georgia’s resulting 23-5 scoring run gave the Bulldogs a 27-point lead, highlighted by a thunderous dunk from sophomore Tyron McMillan with seven minutes to play. The Bulldogs continued to attack the Dolphins on the break, combining with well-distributed scoring to take the lead 90-61 at the final media timeout. In the final tally, Georgia outscored Jacksonville, 31-7, in transition points.
As time wore down, a pair of late 3-pointers from sophomore Christian Brown and junior Jonathan Ned closed out the evening and Georgia’s 33-point victory.
“They really did an excellent job,” said Crean.”They really did—because we’re tired. I was worried about that before the game and there was a few moments where it showed, but we stayed together. I hate that term ‘grind.’ I hate using that with a team but that’s kind of what we were doing through some of those possessions and then it broke open for us. They found energy with one another.”
Georgia will remain home next week as it plays host to the Montana Grizzlies on Tuesday, Dec. 8 at Stegeman Coliseum. The non-conference matchup is set for a 7 p.m. tip time and will be broadcast on SEC Network.