NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Motivation will not be a problem for Georgia in its SEC tournament game with Missouri tonight, according to Tom Crean and second-team All-SEC pick Nicolas Claxton.
And why would it?
Georgia’s opponent in the 7 p.m. (eastern) game at Bridgestone Arena handed the Bulldogs an embarrassing 64-39 Senior Day defeat that won’t soon be forgotten.
“After the way we played the other day, there should be no motivational speech, no inspirational message needed in that situation,” Crean said leading up to what looks to be his team’s final basketball destination of the season.
“(It’s) no way you want to end your season, to team that just wouldn’t flat-out guard certain people because they didn’t have to, and just out-toughed us in the game.”
Missouri is a 3 1/2-point favorite over Georgia, according to VegasInsider.com.
Claxton, who appeared exhausted the last time the teams met, pledged after the Senior Night loss that the No. 13-seed Bulldogs (11-20, 2-16 SEC) would avenge the defeat.
“At the end of the day, we missed a lot of layups that we usually make, we missed some shots we usually make, that’s something we have to work on,” Claxton said. “And the rebounding, all five guys have to box out and be locked into that.
“I think we’ll see them again in Nashville, and the next time we see them, the outcome will be very different.”
Missouri (14-16, 5-13) out-rebounded Georgia 50-28 in the teams’ first meeting this season.
Of course, that may have been payback for the Bulldogs eliminating Missouri from last year’s SEC tournament in St. Louis, 62-60, in second round play.
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said he’s not sure who will come out on top, but he will have his team ready for both Missouri and Georgia when the Tigers take the floor at 3 p.m. on Thursday against the winner.
“We are going to get an opponent capable of advancing,” Pearl told AJC-DawgNation. “Georgia has experienced players who are long, athletic and haven’t quit. They miss Rayshaun (Hammonds), but they still have enough.”
Hammonds, the Bulldogs’ second leading scorer and rebounder, had season-ending foot surgery last Thursday.
Georgia basketball Tom Crean