Georgia trailed the final 28 minutes of its matchup against Temple in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, but if the Bulldogs consider any of their losses this season moral victories, this one might be it.
In its second game under new coach Tom Crean, Georgia clawed its way back from an 11-point halftime deficit behind 36 bench points. The Bulldogs pulled within two and possessed the ball with under half a minute in regulation, but missed the game-tying shot with 4 seconds left.
Temple iced the game with a defensive rebound and two free throws, holding on to win, 81-77.
It was junior forward Derek Ogbeide who shot the game-tying attempt too long off the back iron of the rim, but Ogbeide was one of the biggest reasons Georgia outscored Temple by seven in the second half. Nine of his team-high 16 points came after halftime.
Ogbeide also dominated the glass, leading Georgia with 11 rebounds. It was his first double-double of the season, and no other Bulldogs player had more than three rebounds.
Junior guard Tyree Crump was the other major reason Georgia managed to pull within a basket in the late stages. On a couple of occasions, it appeared as though Temple was finally going to pull away, but Crump hit two key 3-pointers down the stretch that didn’t allow that to happen.
Crump finished tied with Ogbeide for the team-high of 16 points, and he did that playing just 13 minutes off the bench. Crump outscored the entire Temple bench, 16-12.
Freshman guard Tye Fagan, who experienced losing a game for the first time in nearly three years Tuesday, also had an excellent night off the bench. He hit both his field goals and all four free-throw attempts, scoring 8 points.
Temple couldn’t put away Georgia early, but the Owls did execute in the final few seconds of regulation. Forward Rayshaun Hammonds fouled Owls senior center Ernest Aflakpui, who grabbed Ogbeide’s miss with four seconds to go. That was an ideal situation for Georgia because Aflakpui shot just 51.2 percent from the line last season.
But as luck (or bad luck) would have it, the Owls weren’t yet in the bonus, as the foul on Aflakpui was only Georgia’s sixth foul of the second half. It was a rare instance where Georgia wanted to have committed more fouls in a half than they did.
That allowed Temple to substitute out its poor shooting center for a free-throw ace.
On the inbounds pass, Temple got the ball into the hands of guard Shizz Alston Jr., who is about a 90 percent free-throw shooter. He made both from the charity stripe to seal the victory.
Alston finished tied for a game-high 25 points with teammate and fellow guard Quinton Rose, who was the best player on the court. Rose went 11-of-24 with three rebounds and two steals.
It’s hard to draw any conclusions from just two games, but early this season, Georgia is proving to be a deep team. That could be important during a tough SEC slate.
The Bulldogs don’t appear to be much of a 3-point shooting team, but Crump can be deadly from deep range. He went 6-for-12 beyond the arc in the first two games, and Fagan is an exciting young player to keep an eye on off the bench as well.
However, one thing that can be concluded from Georgia’s first two games is turnovers are a major problem. The Bulldogs had 23 turnovers in the season opener Friday, and they coughed it up 20 more times Tuesday night.
Those 20 turnovers led to 22 Temple points. That’s far too many, and it was ultimately the difference in the game.
Georgia-Temple Game Notes & Thoughts
- As previously mentioned, Fagan lost his first basketball game in about three years. The Upson-Lee graduate helped his high school team go undefeated during both of his junior and senior seasons.
- Sophomore forward Rayshaun Hammonds probably wishes Georgia could play Temple more often. He scored 13 points Tuesday, reaching double digits in scoring for the second time in his career. Hammonds scored 14 points last season against Temple.
- In two games, six different players have reached double figures for Georgia. Ogbeide and Crump have scored at least 10 points in both games.
- Freshman forward Amanza Ngumezi was one of the first Bulldogs to come off the bench after the first TV timeout, but he didn’t have a role in the second half. After scoring 10 points in his debut last Friday, Ngumezi posted 3 points — hitting one field goal and a free throw — in 8 minutes.
- Georgia will head back home to face Sam Houston State at 7 pm ET on Friday.