ATHENS — Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean said he expects the Bulldogs will be without 3-point shooting specialist Tyree Crump at the SEC tournament.
Crean said on the SEC basketball coaches teleconference on Monday that Crump, one of only three seniors on the team, tested positive for mononucleosis last week.
Georgia (15-16) plays in the opening game of the SEC basketball tournament at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville against a 15-16 Ole Miss team (TV: SEC Network).
The Rebels beat the Bulldogs in Athens 70-60 on Jan. 25, shutting down leading scorers Anthony Edwards and Rayshaun Hammonds.
Edwards and Hammonds, who have struggled to play well together all season, combined to make just 4 of 20 shots and scored 17 points between them in a game Ole Miss dominated.
Crean said he’s looking for his team to regroup after their lopsided road loss at LSU last Saturday and give themselves their best chance to make a run.
Edwards and Hammonds struggled in Baton Rouge, too, just 10-of-33 shooting between them — numbers that won’t beat any team in the SEC.
Crean is optimistic about his team regrouping, but there are questions as to how Georgia will finish the season with Crump’s senior presence.
“There’s no way to gage it, we’ve got 10 guys that are walking into their first SEC tournament,” Crean said, referring to a roster that includes nine freshmen and a transfer. “And we’re doing it without Tyree Crump.
“We felt that the other day, and we felt that offensively, and we really felt it without his emotional energy. There’s a spirit and confidence to him. That was our first time going through a game without him.”
Crump’s absence was notable, as Georgia fell behind the Bayou Bengals and stayed down, appearing as flat emotionally as the team had looked all season.
Crean said the team’s SEC tournament success comes down to focus and playing sound basketball.
“The bottom line is we have to go in there and play basketball in the sense of playing the right way, moving the ball better, attacking, talking defensively, getting on the glass,” Crean said. “Just go do those things and not overplay the fact we’re in a tournament.”
Georgia would need to beat Ole Miss and No. 5 seed Florida on Thursday to have any chance for an NIT invitation.
The Gators spoiled the Bulldogs’ Senior Night last Wednesday by scoring a 68-54 victory at Stegeman Coliseum.
Crump has likely played his last game at Georgia, leaving him No. 10 on the school’s all-time list for career 3-pointers made (524).