ATHENS – Georgia basketball squeezed out a Friday night win without preseason All-SEC selection Kario Oquendo, who was scratched shortly before the game with a sore knee.
UGA (3-1) used a 11-0 second half run to top Bucknell 65-61 and improve to 3-0 at Stegeman Coliseum.
The Bulldog bench’s 28 points helped bridge the gap left by Oquendo. Jabri Abdur Rahim, Frank Ansalem, and Jaxon Etter combined for 26 of those points.
“I liked the aura on the bench tonight in terms of guys being ready to go,” Georgia coach Mike White said. “If we don’t get that production from our bench tonight, we’d be in trouble.”
It was a hallmark game for Etter, who announced to the team earlier this week he was awarded a scholarship. The senior guard, who contributed 8 points and a rebound in the win, turned down numerous scholarship offers to walk on at Georgia in 2019.
“I was dreaming, literally dreaming about that at night, about how [the announcement] would go down,” Etter said. “The dreams weren’t anything close to what it actually was.”
It was Terry Roberts that led the way for UGA, though. The Bradley transfer, who was dealing with sickness throughout the game, had 20 points with 6 assists and 9 rebounds.
Roberts has led the team in scoring in each of Georgia’s last three contests. The senior guard is averaging 15.8 points per game.
“[Roberts] is just a baller,” Etter said. “When the lights come on, he gets competitive. I’ve never seen more of a competitor in my entire life.”
Georgia’s interior defense was tested by a towering and physical Bison (2-2) offense with five players that stood 6-foot-9 or taller. The Bulldogs struggled to stop the Bucknell bigs early, but White’s 1-3-1 defense began to slow the paint players in the second half.
“I thought Frank did a good job of extending their post catches a little bit.” White said. “Our extension, I thought, allowed for less post touches.”
Roberts, Kyeron Lindsay, and Jusuan Holt combined for 22 boards and UGA out-rebounded the Bison 39-27.
The Bulldogs also took advantage of Bucknell’s physicality, shooting 23-of-26 from the free throw line.
On the injury front, Moncrieffe saw his first action since sustaining exiting Georgia’s season-opener against Western Carolina. Jailyn Ingram, who has not played since tearing his ACL on Dec. 7, 2021, has received some full court practice reps this week.
The extent of Oquendo’s knee soreness is still unkown.
UGA tips off against Saint Joseph’s in the “Sunshine Slam” four-team tournament at 8:30 p.m. on Monday in Daytona, Fla. (TV: CBS Sports).