ATHENS — The eighth-ranked Auburn Tigers dominated offensively in the last 10 minutes of their game against Georgia on Saturday, pulling away for a 78-61 win.
Throughout the first half, the Bulldogs (13-11, 4-8 SEC) stayed close with the Tigers (22-3, 10-2), never falling behind by more than 10 points.
With less than 8 minutes remaining in the half, Auburn led 26-16 before a 12-5 run for Georgia cut the Tigers’ lead to 31-28. But a few Georgia miscues allowed Auburn to establish the 40-31 lead going into the half.
Rayshaun Hammonds got Georgia back into the game in the opening minutes of the second half as he was the only Bulldogs player to score in the first 6 minutes. Keeping Auburn off the scoreboard for nearly 4 minutes, Georgia only trailed by 4 at 43-39.
But around the 10-minute mark, Auburn began to pull away. The Tigers hit back-to-back shots from beyond the 3-point line for their biggest lead at 67-51 as they pulled away for the win.
Three who mattered
Jared Harper: The Auburn point guard had one of the most consistent individual runs of the day in the first half when he exploded for 12 points in a span in 4 minutes of play. That run included a pair of back-to-back contested 3-pointers from the top of the key. The sophomore finished with a team-high 24 points, and he added 7 assists.
Hammonds: Georgia’s starting freshman guard kept his team within striking distance early in the second half, scoring all of Georgia’s points in the opening minutes of the second half. Hammonds finished with 14 points.
Mustapha Heron: Perhaps the most consistent perimeter shooter for the Tigers, Heron finished with 19 points, going 8 of 14 from the field.
Stegeman Coliseum began clearing out with less than 6 minutes remaining in the game as Auburn stretched an already significant lead to its largest of the night. Auburn guards Chuma Okeke, Malik Dunbar and Harper connected on 3-pointers on three consecutive trips for a 70-56 lead.
Taking care of the ball: Auburn finished with 9 turnovers, while Georgia had 13. But Auburn outscored Georgia 25-9 in points off turnovers.
Where’s Turtle?: Georgia’s William “Turtle” Jackson was somewhat absent on the scoreboard. The starting point guard, who averages more than 9 points per game, was held scoreless throughout the first half, going 0 for 4 from the field. He finished with 3 points.
In a slump: Georgia has lost six of its last seven games, and two of those losses have come against Auburn.
They said it
Juwan Parker on the team’s frustration after the loss: “We are all a little frustrated. We don’t work our ass off to lose. We are frustrated with losing. We want to win. We want to make everybody proud.”
Hammonds on the defensive effort in the second half: “We didn’t show up at all. On my part, I didn’t show up either in the late half. We fell apart at the end.”
Yante Maten on the message to the team with a 4-8 conference record: “Being a leader of this team, I am going to relay that message that we don’t give up. That’s not how we roll at Georgia. At the end of the day, we made our own bed. We have to fix it.”
Coach Mark Fox on team’s confidence moving forward: “Obviously, our confidence has been shaken. We had six out of nine [losses] on the road and I think that got the best out of us … but it comes down to executing the fundamental things.”
Fox on taking responsibility for defensive issues: “It all falls on the coaching staff. It all falls on me. I’ll take 100 percent of the responsibility. It’s totally on a coach to make sure that we have a scheme ready to go. Now, the individual has to emotionally and mentally get themselves ready to play, but we have to find a way to push those buttons.”
Georgia plays at Florida Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET.