With Saturday’s Georgia-Auburn men’s basketball tip moved up six hours because of a bad weather forecast, one of the biggest concerns for the Bulldogs had to be the opening minutes in a hostile environment against the undefeated Tigers.
Ironically, that was about the only thing that did go right for the Bulldogs, as No. 5 Auburn (15-0, 3-0) routed Georgia (10-5, 0-2), 82-60, at Auburn Arena on Saturday.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 12-5 lead in the first six minutes of the contest, but Auburn finished the first half on a 29-10 run. The Tigers continued to dominant, beginning the second half with an 11-3 spurt, which all but buried the Bulldogs.
Georgia wasn’t within 15 points of Auburn during the final 17 minutes of the game. The Bulldogs went the last 6:31 of the first half without a field goal, and that drought continued until the 18:46 mark of the second half.
Freshman Anthony Edwards struggled for the second straight road game. He led the Bulldogs with 18 points on 6 of 15 shooting, but 12 of his points came in the final 10 minutes with the contest basically out of reach. Edwards began the afternoon 2-for-9.
The projected lottery pick appeared uncomfortable in front of the hostile crowd most of the game, especially at the free-throw line where Edwards only made 4 of 11 attempts. He also settled for far too many 3-pointers. At then No. 9 Memphis last Saturday, Edwards shot 4 of 17 and finished with 13 points.
Edwards was one of 10 Georgia players in their first SEC road game, and it showed. The Bulldogs recorded only nine assists versus 14 turnovers and allowed the Tigers to shoot 53.2 percent. Auburn made nine 3-pointers, including six in the first half.
Despite Edwards’ slow start, the Bulldogs played well in the first five minutes behind early production from junior Rayshaun Hammonds and senior Donnell Gresham Jr., who combined to tally nine of the team’s first 10 points. But Hammonds and Greshman combined to score just nine points in the final 35 minutes.
Hammonds led the Bulldogs with nine rebounds and was tied for the team lead with two 3-pointers and two steals. Other than Edwards, he was also the only other Georgia player in double figures with 12 points.
Three Auburn players reached double figures, including two off the bench — senior forward Anfernee McLemore and freshman guard Allen Flanigan. Each of those players had 12 points, and the Tigers bench outscored Georgia’s reserves 34-13.
This is Auburn’s fifth straight victory against the Bulldogs in men’s basketball. They will meet again in Athens on Wednesday, Feb. 19.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Bulldogs moving forward, as they continue to search for their first SEC win of the season. In their first five conference games, Georgia will square off against five programs that went to the NCAA Tournament last year. The Bulldogs lost their first SEC game at home to Kentucky on Tuesday, 78-69.
Georgia will host Tennessee on Wednesday at Stegeman Coliseum and then visit Mississippi State next Saturday. Tennessee edged South Carolina, 56-55, on Saturday and has spent a decent bulk of this season ranked in the Top 25.