UGA MBB: After slow start, Dawgs outlast Georgia Tech, 82-78

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UGA MBB: After slow start, Dawgs outlast Georgia Tech, 82-78

Rayshaun Hammonds (20), UGA men's basketball
Rayshaun Hammonds (20), UGA men’s basketball

In football, the winner of the Georgia vs Georgia Tech rivalry gets ownership of the Governor’s Cup, but in basketball, you get bragging rights for the next year. Georgia men’s basketball has beaten Georgia Tech for the past four years, and tonight the Bulldogs prevailed 82-78 for a fifth straight win in the series.

Georgia was led in scoring by Rayshaun Hammonds with 26 points and nine rebounds, followed by Anthony Edwards with 18 points and eight rebounds. Donnell Gresham finished with 13, and Tyree Crump with 11, 

It was a very slow start for both teams tonight. Both the Dawgs and Jackets started the game combined shooting 0 for 11 from the field, but Tech would draw first blood when Michael Devoe with 17:21 left to go in the half. At the first official timeout with just under sixteen minutes to go, Georgia Tech led 3-0 as the Bulldogs were shooting 0 for 9 from the field. 

Rayshaun Hammonds hit Georgia’s first basket shortly after that timeout with 15:09 to go with a baseline jumper. It seemed like the problem for both teams weren’t turnovers, but a couple of fouls and a lot of missed shots. The Bulldogs especially struggled when Georgia Tech switched to zone on defense, and freshman Anthony Edwards was basically taken out of the game for the rest of the first half. To adjust, Bulldogs head coach Tom Crean called a timeout to draw up a different strategy.  

After jumping out to a 20-12 lead, Georgia Tech went cold with just under 10 minutes to go in the first half. With 9:17 to go, Georgia went on a quick 7-0 run with a three-pointer from Crump, a pair of free throws from Edwards, and a jumper by Amanze Ngumezi. Devoe hit a couple of free throws for the Yellow Jackets, but it was the Rayshaun Hammonds‘ show to end the half. 

“We did a good job on Edwards in the first half, and when we switched to a 3-2 zone in the first half he wasn’t a factor,” said Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner. “After that, Hammonds got inside and that really hurt us. He scored a lot of his points inside the paint to end that first half. I thought Rayshaun was a stud tonight.” 

Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner Interview

Hammonds had 12 of Georgia’s first 22 points and finished the first half with 19 points. Down the stretch of that last 9:17, Georgia outscored Tech 15 to 7, including a 10-0 run from the 5:04 mark to 2:22 to go in the half. Georgia ended the first half with a 35-27 lead, and despite a bad start shooting wise, at the end of the half, they were shooting 43.5 percent. Edwards was silent in the first half as he only had two points. 

“It was hard when they went into that zone, and they must have watched a lot of film,” said Edwards. “They were pressing my and (Tyree) Crump hard. When we would catch the ball we couldn’t get our shots off, and the main goal when we called that timeout was to feed Ray.”

Anthony Edwards and Rayshaun Hammonds postgame interview

Georgia started the second half strong and continued to dominate. The Bulldogs quickly took an 11 point lead with 18:19 to go and kept building on that lead in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Georgia Tech cut the lead to single digits with 11:41 to go and kept it that way for a few minutes, but Edwards hit a layup with 8:17 to go to extend to Georgia’s lead to 11. 

Hammonds got into foul trouble as he committed his 4th foul and was subbed out of the game with 13:32 to go, and Edwards took over Georgia’s offense. With 9:44 to go, Edwards hit a huge three-pointer for Georgia to go up 11, and down the stretch, he made a few key plays offensively and defensively. Georgia Tech finished the game strong in the last three minutes getting the game within single digits, but Gresham ended the game going 7 for 7 from the line. 

“It’s a big win for us,” Hammonds said. “I haven’t lost to them, I don’t want to lose to them.”

“This is a huge rivalry,” Crean said. “I said to the team, there are going to be things in life that are so much bigger than you, and a game like this is one of them. When those seniors can say they never lost those games, that’s a big deal.”

In closing… 

  • Even though Georgia almost blew the lead in the closing minutes of the game, they competed in the second half and made several key plays on both sides of the ball to seal the victory.
  • Georgia wins its’ 5th in a row against the Yellow Jackets. 
  • The Bulldogs shot 42 percent from the field and won the rebounding battle tonight.
  • Georgia was an astounding 22 of 31 from the free-throw line, shooting 71 percent. 
  • Freshman Sahvir Wheeler is the point guard that the Georgia basketball program was looking for. Wheeler led Georgia in assists tonight with five and had several nice dishes inside including an alley-oop pass to Toumani Camara
  • When Georgia Tech cut to zone in the first half, Georgia hit a wall and couldn’t get the ball inside. After a quick timeout, the Bulldogs’ offense adjusted when they starting cutting inside. This is when Rayshaun Hammonds starting going off. 
  • Finally, the crowd played a huge factor tonight. At several points in the game, the crowd got fired up on calls against Georgia, and that fed into the team’s energy. At the last official timeout, Edwards and Gresham jumped up and down anticipating the crowd to participate more.

Here is the video from Tom Crean’s postgame presser:

Tom Crean’s postgame press conference

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Currently an intern for BI, and a junior journalism major at the University of Georgia.