Georgia basketball locks down Saint Joseph’s, 66-53, in ‘Sunshine Slam’

Georgia guard Kario Oquendo (3) during Georgia’s game against Miami University at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga., on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Tony Walsh

ATHENS – An incredible first half was enough to cover a forgettable second half as Georgia beat Saint Joseph’s in its first “Sunshine Slam” tournament game.

UGA will play for the “Beach Bracket” championship against UAB at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. The Blazers beat South Florida 80-65 earlier on Monday.

Coach Mike White will be looking for the same sort of start against UAB as his Bulldogs (4-1) had on Monday night when they allowed just 15 points in the first 20 minutes -- the fewest since Kansas State scored 12 on UGA in 2014.

“We were moving with the ball,” White said in his postgame Zoom press conference. “We were seeing both ball and man.

“A lot of times on the catch, we were there, moving with urgency on airtime.”

Georgia limited the Hawks, who entered the game scoring 41 percent of their points from beyond the arc, to just eight 3-point attempts in the first half, and Saint Joseph’s didn’t make any of them.

“Mike White teams always defend with a lot of passion and that’s what they did in this first half,” CBS Sports Analyst Steve Lappas said. “The best way to stop a three-point shooting team: don’t let them take them.”

A 20-2 run in the final 8:04 of the first half gave the Bulldogs a 38-15 lead at halftime.

It was UGA’s first win away from Athens this season. The Bulldogs lost to Wake Forest in their only away game prior to the win against Saint Joseph’s.

“That feels good, thinking about it that way,” White said. “If you’re going to have a good year, you can’t just do it in Stegeman … to be able to steal one away from Stegeman is very important for this program.”

Kario Oquendo, who missed Georgia’s win over Bucknell with a sore knee, led the team with 15 points, 5 rebounds, and a steal.

Jabri Abdur Rahim added 12 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals. He was 3-of-7 shooting from 3-point range. Terry Roberts added 12 points of his own with 5 assists, four rebounds, a block and a steal.

Jusuan Holt and Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe had extremely dominant nights on the glass, both pulling down 7 rebounds. UGA outrebounded the Hawks 45-32.

White will coach against a familiar face in the championship game on Tuesday night. He was an assistant on UAB coach Andy Kennedy’s staff when Kennedy was the head coach at Ole Miss.

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