The Georgia Bulldogs (7-3) are set to face the Georgia Southern Eagles (8-4) on the hardwood Monday night.
This past Friday’s game was a double-overtime thriller as Georgia edged the SMU Mustangs 87-85. The win over SMU was big for the program and was a confidence builder for a young Bulldogs’ team.
Tom Crean has ten new faces this season, nine of them being freshmen. When assembling this recruiting class Crean wanted guys who can compete, and ten games into the season we’ve found out how tough his squad really is.
“They play hard, absolutely,” Crean said when asked about how well his team competes. “There’s no doubt about it. I don’t know how you don’t,” Crean said. “That’s part of coaching. That’s why you’ve got to constantly recruit winners.”
A lot of attention has been focused on talented freshman Anthony Edwards, but his teammates have proved that they can carry the load as well. Freshman Mike Peake has played some big minutes this year, and Christian Brown had one of his best games of the season against SMU. Sahvir Wheeler, who hit the game-winning shot Friday night, continues to impress the more the season goes on.
Junior Rayshaun Hammonds added at the post-game press conference that a win over an impressive SMU team can help this team in the long run.
“It builds confidence,” said Hammonds. “That’s all I can say. It builds confidence, grows out the younger guys, makes it easier for them to play in bigger games now, they know what they’re doing. You don’t have to talk to them, you don’t have to tell them anything, they already know. It’s fun doing that and it’s fun for me to see them do that so it’s cool.”
After Georgia plays Georgia Southern, they take on Austin Peay on Dec. 30 before traveling to Memphis the next week. Then after that conference play starts, and the Bulldogs open up their SEC slate with Kentucky, Auburn, and Tennessee.
Even though Monday’s game is the night before Christmas Eve, Crean expects there to be a big crowd.
“I don’t think we have many tickets left, and I expect a huge crowd,” said Crean. “They’re having fun. How do they come tonight and not have fun? It’s nerve-racking but they made a difference. I’m not trying to cheerlead in here. I said it on the radio. I’ve tried to shake every hand I could out there. We don’t win it without them. And it’s real. It’s not fake. You need a home crowd. And we’re getting it. And so I hope they come out again for Monday night because we’ll need it. And we’ll need it when Austin Peay comes and we’re certainly going to need it when Kentucky and Tennessee come in early January.”