Anthony Edwards didn’t have answers after last Wednesday night’s blowout loss to South Carolina, asked of his efforts to turn Georgia basketball around.
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“I love my teammates, and I’m playing for them and my family,” Edwards said after the Bulldogs’ most lopsided home loss of the season.
“Other than that, there’s not much I can say.”
Actually, Coach Tom Crean said on Friday, Edwards can and needs to say more on the basketball court moving forward.
Georgia (12-12, 2-9 SEC) has lost seven of its past eight games entering into Saturday afternoon’s game at Texas A&M (11-12, 5-6) in College Station (TV: 3:30 p.m., SEC Network).
The Bulldogs’ win was against the Aggies in Athens on Feb. 1, a decisive 63-48 victory at Stegeman Coliseum. Edwards was on fire that day, scoring 29 points and pulling down 15 rebounds.
Crean said that even though Edwards is only 18 years old, Georgia needs to lean on him more, and he needs to provide more of a vocal presence.
“I think you have to be able to look to great leadership as safety …. . you feel like it’s going to turn because somebody is out there,” Crean said during a Friday availability.
“We need more of that from Anthony. Even though he’s 18, we need more of that from him. We need more of that verbal [leadership]. Him playing with that, even when it’s not going as well, brings a higher level of energy.”
Edwards, a projected lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, is the nation’s top-scoring freshman with 19.5 points per game.
Edwards’ exploits aside, the young Bulldogs — there are nine freshmen on the team — have suffered more than their share of gut-wrenching defeats.
On three occasions in four games — at Missouri, at Florida and at home against Alabama — Georgia lost double-digit leads in the second half.
Crean believes those disappointments took a toll, perhaps culminating in last Wednesday night’s flat home performance in the 75-59 loss to a dialed in South Carolina.
“We have to keep coaching them better, especially when we start to lose confidence, like we had the other night a little bit,” Crean said. “That happens, unfortunately, when you’ve been so close as we’ve been in the last couple of weeks.
“We’ve just got to help guide them through that psychologically, and understand that the way these things get done is you just stay in the fight and stay physical, stay aggressive. You trust your offense but at the end of the day, you’ve got to really get stops defensively, and we’ve just got to keep believing that we can do those types of things.”
The game is a homecoming of sorts for freshman point guard Sahvir Wheeler, a former Texas A&M commit from Houston.
Wheeler is coming off one of his least productive outings, just 1-of-6 shooting with two assists and four turnovers against South Carolina.
The Aggies don’t figure to make things any easier on him, as they are second in the SEC in scoring defense.
Wheeler’s 102 assists this season rank fifth in UGA history by a freshman, just 31 shy of the school’s freshman record.
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