ATHENS — Georgia basketball got its new-look offense flowing on Friday night, but the Bulldogs could not stop Georgia Tech senior Michael Devoe.
Devoe scored a career-high 37 points at Stegeman Coliseum, leading the Yellow Jackets (3-1) to an 88-78 win that snapped the Bulldogs’ five-game win streak in the series. The streak dated back to the 2014-15 season. The teams didn’t play last season on account of scheduling conflicts amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Gonzaga transfer Aaron Cook led Georgia (2-2) with 18 points and 6 assists, while Florida Atlantic transfer Jailyn Ingram had 17 points and a team-high 6 rebounds for the Bulldogs.
The teams were tied at 73-73 when Devoe scored on a transition drive to spark a 6-0 run that gave the Yellow Jackets the lead for good. Devoe, 14 of 18 from the field, capped the run with a basket in the lane that made it 79-73 with 2:25 left.
The Bulldogs failed to get closer than 5 points the remainder of the game, unable to feed off the season-high crowd of 9,057 that packed their home arena for the late-night tip.
Georgia Tech held a 41-36 lead at intermission, finishing the first half on a 9-2 run, with Devoe scoring 19 of his points through the first 20 minutes.
“There were too many times we didn’t do the game plan with Devoe and take away his left hand, and they scored too many points at the rim,” said Crean, who’s in the midst of rebuilding Georgia with 10 newcomers this season.
“We had numerous chances, we overcame deficits, but we missed free throws at crucial times.”
The Bulldogs battled back in the second half, drawing even on a Cook 3-pointer (69-69, 5:49) from the top of the key, and reclaiming the lead, 71-69, on an Ingram jump hook with 5:09 left that marked the 12th lead change of the night.
Devoe and the defending ACC tourney champion Yellow Jackets would not be denied, however, making 7 of their final 8 shots to finish the night shooting at an eye-popping 60.7-percent clip.
“Offensively we got some shots we wanted,” Cook said. “They showed us we have to improve on our defense.”
Georgia also needs some work at the free-throw line, as it made just 12 of 24 free-throw attempts.
The Bulldogs return to action at 7 p.m. on Monday against Virginia in the Legends Classic in Newark, N.J. Georgia will also play on Tuesday night against either Northwestern or Providence in Newark.
“We do have a great group of guys that work extremely hard, and it’s a matter of building togetherness and toughness that turns into resolve and unity,” said Crean, who remained stuck on 399 wins through his head coaching stints at Marquette, Indiana and now Georgia.
“We’ve got to get ourselves ready over the weekend to play some really good basketball teams in New Jersey in a short period of time.”
Georgia coach Tom Crean