ATHENS — Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean was minutes removed from a tough 94-92 overtime loss at LSU when he began talking about the Bulldogs’ next game at Arkansas.
“Moral victory is not a word, it’s not a phrase” Crean said, later adding that, “Now we just have to find out what our level of resilience is as we go on to play at a very, very tough place against a very, very well-coached team.”
The Bulldogs (7-2, 0-2 SEC) tip off against the Razorbacks (9-2, 1-2) at 3:30 p.m. (TV: SEC Network) on Saturday in Fayetteville.
Arkansas is coming off a 79-74 road loss at No. 9 Tennessee last Wednesday.
Georgia enters the game as one of just three Division I men’s basketball teams out of the 345 that have played this season to have six players averaging double-figure scoring.
Forward Toumani Camara leads UGA with 14.3 points and 8.9 rebounds, and his four double-doubles tie for first in the league.
Sahvir Wheeler leads the SEC with 7.7 assists, and Justin Kier is tops in the league with 2.3 steals per game.
But going into Arkansas and nabbing a road upset will be difficult, and Crean knows it.
“Arkansas plays as fast and fierce as anyone in the SEC,” Crean said. “They come at you with an attack-the-rim mentality and create a ton of threes because of it.
“This year, they are scoring more and more from their defense. How we get back and transition and control the pressure they put on the rim will be big.”
The pace figures to be frantic, as Arkansas leads the SEC with 87.2 points per league game, while the Bulldogs rank third at 81.4.
“They’re going to put five shooters on the floor, including a 7-foot-3 Connor Vanover who shoots threes with great regularity,” Crean said.
“I think Arkansas has more guys that can make shots so we’re going to have to be really attentive to what we need to get done defensively there.”
Georgia has worked to put more shooters on the floor, too, but the Bulldogs rank 10th in the SEC shooting the trey at a 30.9-percent clip.
Crean said there’s more to it than just getting more time in the gym.
“You can definitely get better in practice, but the reps have to be real and they have to be focused,” said Crean, whose Indiana teams were among the most accurate 3-point shooting clubs in the nation.
“Game speed has a lot to do with it. Someone holding you accountable for the proper footwork, technique and balance is huge. To become a better shooter, you have to be very serious about getting better. It’s never about just getting shots up.”
GeorgiaDogs.com Did You Know?
The Unofficial SEC Tourney Title
Georgia and Arkansas were the two Wednesday night winners at the 2020 SEC Tournament in Nashville last March.
On March 11, the Bulldogs bested Ole Miss, 81-63, in the evening’s first outing before the Razorbacks downed Vanderbilt, 86-73. The following morning, the remainder of the tourney was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Certain jokesters declared Georgia and Arkansas as the tourney’s co-champions, making Saturday’s matchup what those folks would consider a 2020 SEC Tourney title tilt.