UGA MBB: Despite youth, a pair of Bulldog freshmen shine in debut versus Western Carolina in 91-72 win

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UGA MBB: Despite youth, a pair of Bulldog freshmen shine in debut versus Western Carolina in 91-72 win

Anthony Edwards (5) drives the lane against Western Carolina.
Anthony Edwards (5) drives the lane against Western Carolina.

The Georgia men’s basketball team opened up the season against the Western Carolina Catamounts Tuesday night, and it was the official coming-out party for the class of 2019’s No. 1 rated player Anthony Edwards. 

On Monday, Georgia men’s head coach Tom Crean stressed one main point about Edwards heading in the 2019-2020 season, which is his age. 

Edwards turned 18 years old in August, and Crean mentioned that he should be preparing for his second week of high school basketball, but instead he played in his first college basketball game on Tuesday. Crean understands that there will be some coaching moments.  

“He’s got to get better just everybody like else does, and he is,” Crean said Monday. “He has his moments too where they are not so good. He’s got a lot to learn.”

Sahvir Wheeler (15)
Sahvir Wheeler (15)

Even though Edwards is younger than most, he shined bright in his first official game as a Bulldog. Edwards finished with 24 points, nine rebounds, and three assists. In the first half, Edwards led the Bulldogs with 12 points and was five of seven from the foul line. Another freshman, Savhir Wheeler, played a great game as well. Wheeler had 19 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Edwards and Wheeler spoke to the media after the game, and both were happy with the outcome as the Bulldogs beat the Catamounts 91-72. Edwards expressed thanks for his teammates’ performance. 

“I just want to thank Savhir Wheeler, Christian Brown, and Rodney Howard for coming in and helping change the tempo of the game,” said Edwards. 

Edwards and Wheeler’s post-game interview

With 19:08 left in the second half, Wheeler scored his first points of the half. About a minute later Wheeler drove the lane on a fast-break and made a layup. Freshman Christian Brown also made a couple of great plays in the second half as well.

“We are constantly in the gym practicing, and in the film room trying to get better,” said Wheeler. 

Senior guard Tyree Crump was the third Bulldog in double digits as he finished with 15 points, and Rayshaun Hammonds finished with 7. Georgia had 36 points off the bench, and that proved to be huge in the second half. Tye Fagan and Rodney Howard added some points and also helped make a few stops on defense. 

Tyree Crump (4)
Tyree Crump (4)

“Just speaking on the freshman, the bond is unbelievable,” said Wheeler. “But the whole team has come together, and we are all brothers. We’ve got guys that can come in and pick up their brother’s slack if needed. There’s a lot of passion in that locker room.” 

“I don’t see us a young team,” said Edwards. “There’s a lot of depth in that locker room, and there also is a lot of talent. We’re going to get better as the year goes on, but that comes with the work and effort we have to put in.” 

Watch a fullscreen slideshow (opens in new tab) HERE.
These photos can be viewed, downloaded HERE.

Tom Crean seemed optimistic after the win but had a lot to say about how his team can improve. 

“It’s game one tonight, and there’s a lot of room to get better,” said Crean. “There’s a lot of things up for grabs right now. We’re not a consistent team, and it’s going to take some time to learn.” 

This year’s Georgia team has nine new freshmen and one transfer. 

“Listen, we have 10 new guys right now,” Crean said. “Do research, and tell me the last time a team had this many new faces, and no I’m not talking about when Duke or Kentucky signing five out of the top 15 guys. There’s going to be a lot of tough nights this year.”

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

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