ATHENS — Georgia basketball had the sellout crowd at Stegeman Coliseum rocking on Wednesday night, upsetting No. 13-ranked Auburn 65-55.
Freshman Anthony Edwards had 18 points and six rebounds to lead the Bulldogs, who snapped a four-game losing streak with the victory.
Georgia (13-13, 3-10 SEC) had surrendered double-digit leads in four of the past five losses but held on against the Tigers (22-4, 9-4).
“We’ve been getting beat-up, if that’s what you want to call it,” Edwards said, asked about running to celebrate with the student section after the game. “But I went to the crowd and told them, ‘We can win some games, y’all stick with us.”
The Bulldogs went up 10 points on a Sahvir Wheeler free throw that made it 37-27 with 14:55 left. Auburn couldn’t get closer than three points the rest of the game.
“Our guys knew they had to be in the fight,” UGA coach Tom Crean said. “We had to establish toughness and that we would fight, because we know Auburn does.
“Their record is no fluke, they are the real deal, and he (Bruce Pearl) is a tremendous coach.”
Wheeler had 13 points and four assists, controlling the ball and the tempo against Pearl’s trapping Tigers with the seventh sellout crowd of the season (10,181) urging him on.
“They definitely had a presence and an impact on the game,” Wheeler said of the Bulldogs’ fans. “Thank you DawgNation and keep supporting us.”
Freshman Toumani Camara took care of a lot of the tough work in the paint with 12 points and eight rebounds. Camara sealed the win down the stretch, 5-of-6 from the free-throw line in the final 22 seconds.
Crean said Camara also had 19 defensive deflections in the game, a disruptive force throughout.
It’s UGA’s second win over a ranked opponent this season. Georgia beat then-No. 9 Memphis 65-62 on Jan. 4 in Memphis.
Auburn won the teams’ first meeting by an 82-60 count on Jan. 11 in Auburn.
But Georgia served notice of just how good it can be when Rayshaun Hammonds (13 points, eight rebounds) is playing well in the first half, leading 31-25 at the break.
The Bulldogs had led by as many as nine before intermission, a Hammonds’ fast break layup giving UGA a 21-12 lead at the 9:31 mark.
Hammonds scored all 10 of his first-half points the first 11 minutes of the game, also pulling down six rebounds.
Edwards, meanwhile, didn’t score the first eight minutes of the game.
But Edwards third bucket of the game was a big one, his 3-pointer ending a 9-0 Auburn run while putting the Bulldogs back on top 25-23 with 3:55 left in the half.
It triggered an 8-0 Georgia burst, and a lead UGA would not relinquish on Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs return to action at 6 p.m. on Saturday against Vanderbilt (9-17, 1-2) in Nashville (TV: SEC Network).