ATHENS — It’s only natural that a rivalry game comes down to the waning minutes of the game, but when it came to Georgia’s home matchup with rival Georgia Tech on Tuesday night, the 80-59 win was decided midway through the second half.
Georgia took over in the second half, but the first half saw the two in-state teams trade leads a few times before Georgia went on a 6-0 run to take a 26-17 lead with less than minutes remaining in the half.
But before the first half ended, Georgia Tech got itself back within striking distance, cutting Georgia’s lead to 36-34 at the half.
Georgia’s intensity didn’t waver coming out of the half, going on a 6-0 run to regain control. That spurt included back-to-back blocks from Yante Maten and Derek Ogbeide.
By the 14-minute mark Georgia had taken over, stretching its lead to double digits with a 3-pointer from the top of the key for Rayshaun Hammonds to give the Bulldogs the 49-37 lead.
THREE WHO MATTERED
E’Torrion Wilridge: While he didn’t start the game or lead the way in scoring, E’Torrion Wilridge made his presence known in the second half when Georgia needed a little more cushion. In a two-minute span around the 11-minute mark of the second half, Wilridge came alive, with a 3, followed by a dunk on the next possession for the Bulldogs.
Maten: Speaking of Maten, he was the Bulldogs’ leading scorer. The senior finished with another positive offensive performance, scoring 24 points. Maten was 9-of-13 from the field.
Josh Okogie: Georgia Tech’s leading scorer with 21 total points likely would have had more if he did not foul out in the final minutes.
With 14 minutes remaining in the game, Georgia had taken, but it needed a final dagger. That final blow came from Rayshaun Hammonds hit a 3 with a defender in his face to stretch the Bulldogs’ lead to double-digits.
More consistency: Entering the game, Georgia head coach Mark Fox wanted to see his Georgia team have a more consistent start. And that was exactly what the Bulldogs showcased, shooting a little better than 50 percent from the field to get started.
Strong on the bench: Georgia’s bench made the difference with 18 points from the reserves, while Georgia Tech had only one bench point.
THEY SAID IT
Fox on defeating Georgia Tech: “We have a new arena, essentially, and we had a packed house and a great opponent. It was a beautiful night of college basketball, and both teams went toe-to-toe in the first half. … I thought in the second half we really buckled down defensively and got off to a very unselfish and efficient start to that half.”
Maten on the rivalry: “That’s our rival and everyone wants to beat their rival. I remember my first game against Georgia Tech. I came in, and I don’t remember who it was, but they said, ‘We aren’t about to let some freshman come in and dominate us’ or something like that. He just pushed me super hard, and I was like ‘OK, so this is what this is about.’ ”
Ogbeide on having multiple scorers on offense: “That’s Coach’s goal, to get a lot of guys involved and to really just use our depth to the best of our advantages. He definitely aches for that sometimes.”
Georgia hosts Temple at 1 p.m. on Friday.