ATHENS — Georgia coach Tom Crean has communicated with the person who tossed the beanie bulldog onto the court in the critical final seconds of Wednesday night’s loss to Mississippi State and he forgives him.
Other than that, he’s still not feeling great about the way things were handled at the end of what was a 68-67 home loss for the Bulldogs (10-16, 1-12 SEC), their 11th straight in league play.
“It is what it is,” Crean said before Georgia practiced at the Stegeman Training Facility on Friday. “It’s not going to change the result. You can’t spend time thinking and talking about something that’s really not going to change anything. It’s disappointing the way that it turned out, but that’s what it is and we have to move on.”
As for “the young person” who admitted to throwing a stuffed animal on the floor as a Mississippi State player attempted the deciding free throws with 0.5 seconds to play, Crean said he’s not made at him.
“It was unfortunate,” Crean said. “He feels bad about it.”
UGA identified the culprit by reviewing Stegeman Coliseum camera footage. The individual has been banned from the arena the rest of the season and their ticket-buying privileges have been suspended “for a period of time,” a school spokesman said. The length of that suspension was not specified.
As the Bulldogs prepare for Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. game against Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss., (TV: SEC Network; radio: WSB 750-AM & 95.5-FM. Apparently senior guard Turtle Jackson already has put the incident behind him. Asked about the “stuffed animal thing” on Friday, Jackson at first said, “oh, I thought you were talking about Valentines Day or something. I was thinking, ‘how did you know I bought a stuffed animal?”
Following a long laugh, Jackson said, “We took it in a positive way because we were able to see from the first half to the second half how much we improved. We’re not really worried about that. Things happen all the time. You just have to deal with it.”
Indeed, the Bulldogs have to go on about their business in what has been a historic season for all the wrong reasons. Wednesday’s loss gave Georgia its longest losing streak since the 1974-75 season. Next on the ledger is a road trip to Ole Miss. The Rebels (18-8, 8-5) defeated Georgia 80-64 two weeks ago in Athens.
“Their backcourt is not only one of the best in the league, I think you can put it up against the best in the country,” Crean said. “What [Coach Kermit Davis] has done with Breein Tyree and Terence Davis and Devontae Shuler and the way that they play and explode and shoot, score, deliver the ball, is outstanding.”
Starting guards Breein Tyree (18.4 ppg) and Terence Davis (15.7) average 34 points between them and Tyree scored 31 points in 36 minutes two weeks ago.
Georgia counters with a much bigger front line, led by 6-11 sophomore Nicolas Claxton. Claxton, by the way, is now one of only two Division I players in country — Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Sandy Cohen III is the other — who leads his team in all five major statistical categories. Claxton paces the Bulldogs in scoring (12.7 ppg), rebounding (9.0 pg), assists (54), blocks (65) and steals (31).
As for the wild finish the other night in Athens, Crean said he has talked with SEC officials about what went down. Generally, he said, officials don’t call a technical the first time something is thrown on the floor. Usually, they issue a warning first. There’s also the debatable matter of who does the throwing and whether officials can be certain for which team an offender might root.
Crean said only that he’ll follow with interest the enforcement of such situations going forward. Otherwise, he had a different complaint in the wake of reviewing all the video from the game.
“When you look at the end of the game, the views of the tape, if there was a foul it was by the Mississippi State screener pushing Jordan (Harris) into the shooter,” Crean said. “And from the views I had, Jordan got the ball. But it is what it is.”
It is what it is indeed.