ATHENS — Georgia’s second win of the season wasn’t the onslaught many probably expected as the Bulldogs held off USC Upstate 74-65 on Tuesday.
The Bulldogs opened up the game with an 11-0 run in the opening three minutes and had a 13-2 lead. But back-to-back 3-pointers and a breakaway dunk from USC Upstate’s offense kept the Spartans within striking distance, which is where they remained until halftime as the Bulldogs had a 34-30 lead at the break.
The start of the second half was more of the same as USC Upstate took its first lead of the game with a little more than 13 minutes remaining in the game. Spartans Isaiah Anderson stepped back for a 3, giving USC-Upstate a 46-45 lead.
With the help of a senior and freshman, Georgia was able to pull ahead in the last few minutes. Freshman Rayshaun Hammonds added seven points in two minutes to give Georgia the lead, and the Spartans weren’t able to recover.
Three who mattered
Yante Maten: The Bulldogs’ leading scorer in the home opener last week again led the team with 22 points and 14 rebounds.
Mike Cunningham: The Spartans guard kept his team in the game, scoring 16 points — all of them after halftime.
Hammonds: The freshman finished with 13 points, including seven quick ones in the second half to give Georgia the lead it needed to finish the game.
Hammonds stood in the corner patiently waiting for the ball to get to him. All alone in the corner, Hammonds took his time, pulling up for the shot, sinking a 3-pointer to give the Bulldogs a 60-59 lead with five minutes remaining in the game. A missed shot by the Spartans on the other end of the court gave the Bulldogs the ball, and it went to Maten. With a quick pass to Hammonds down low on the fast break, the freshman added two more points.
Coming on in second half: Maten was held to five points in the first half, but he came alive with 17 points after halftime. Maten finished with one point more than he did in the home opener against Bryant.
Overcoming the drought: From the end of the first half through the first nine minutes of the second half, Georgia did not make a shot outside of the paint. The streak was broken when E’Torrion Wilridge hit a jumper from just outside the elbow with 11:30 minutes to play.
They said it
Georgia coach Mark Fox on the strong start: “I think the hot start, we didn’t handle it very well. I thought we really relaxed and got a little complacent and stopped paying attention to detail. I thought we didn’t handle that lead very well, and eventually the lead eroded, and our momentum, our play, kept going the wrong direction, and the good thing is that we had to fight our way through it.”
Fox on what hurt the Bulldogs: “We were so impatient. We had a few guys who were just trying to shoot the ball so that they could get more playing time. That’s not how you get more playing time. You don’t score your way onto the court. You have to make the right play.”
Hammonds on his strong finish: “I know that I made a couple of bad plays, and I [knew] I had to get myself together because that is usually not me. Coach was also getting on me so that motivated me to play [better].”
Hammonds on USC Upstate: “That was a great team. They had a good zone, and we had to get used to playing against a zone because we probably, this year, aren’t going to play against a zone like that. So, that was the first time, and we had to learn how to break it down.”
Georgia hosts Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 1 p.m. on Sunday.