Tom Crean wanted his Georgia basketball team to attack Auburn on Tuesday night, and the Bulldogs responded.
“We believed we would come in here and compete,” Crean said. “We were very focused, we had good energy and we were locked in.”
Georgia (11-6, 4-6) ran out to a 10-2 lead at Auburn (10-9, 4-6) and never trailed, scoring a 91-86 win for its first victory on The Plains in four years.
“Georgia’s got really good guards who can beat you off the bounce,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “We played right into their hands. It was exactly how we knew Georgia could beat us.
“We didn’t give them to them, they earned it. Georgia earned the victory tonight.”
Tye Fagan scored the first seven points of the game and led the Bulldogs with 16 points, and Toumani Camara recorded his fifth double-double of the season with 15 points and 12 rebounds
It’s the Bulldogs’ fourth win in their past six games, and it came in a game they were a nine-point underdog.
UGA point guard Sahvir Wheeler had 13 points and 7 assists, P.J. Horne had 13 points and freshman K.D. Johnson chipped in with 12 points and Justin Kier had 11.
“It was a team victory,” Crean said. “We had five guys score in double figures and Andrew Garcia had 9 (points).”
Georgia out-rebounded Auburn 40-32, snapping a streak of seven straight league games where it had been out-rebounded.
“We have to be a gang-rebounding team,” Crean said. “We’ve got to be quick, we have to hit first, we have to get inside position and be on the offensive glass.”
SEC Network analyst and former SEC Network analyst and former NBA veteran Jim Sundvold said it was a different Georgia team than he saw beat Ole Miss 71-61 last Saturday.
“The difference is in the quality of shots, and the layups around the rim,” Sundvold said. “It’s how aggressive they have been attacking.”
Crean said leading up to the game his team would need to be resilient, and the Bulldogs proved just that, turning back the Tigers each time Bruce Pearl’s team attempted to rally.
Auburn made seven of its first eight shots of the second half to cut Georgia’s lead down to three, 49-46, after the Bulldogs held a nine-point lead at intermission.
But Fagan and Camara were there to answer with baskets, and the Tigers failed to get closer than three for the remainder of the game.
Georgia led by as many as 15 points at 69-54 when Andrew Garcia capped a 9-0 run with a layup with 10:44 left.
Auburn answered with a 7-0 run of its own to cut the lead back to 71-65, but a PJ Horne dunk put a charge back in the Bulldogs and kept the Tigers at bay.
Georgia held a 39-30 advantage at the half, shooting 50 percent from the floor through the first 20 minutes.
It’s the 14th time in 81 games under Crean that Georgia has scored 90 points or more. Prior to Crean, UGA it had taken 432 games for UGA to score 90 points or more.
Georgia is scheduled to return to action against Vanderbilt at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Stegeman Coliseum.
The Commodores (5-8, 1-6) are coming off a 93-81 win over South Carolina last Saturday, and had their Wednesday night game at Texas A&M postponed.