It was another loss for Georgia, but the Bulldogs showed some encouraging signs and put a late scare in No. 25 LSU before finally falling 92-82.
After trailing by as many as 14 points, the Bulldogs cut the Tigers’ lead down to six points in the second half and stayed within 10 points the rest of the way. Georgia was able to get back in the game by doing what coach Tom Crean had said it needed to do, by moving well without the ball, passing it around, cutting to the basket and getting off good shots.
By doing all of the above, the Bulldogs shot 53.6 percent from the field and outscored the high-scoring Tigers 46-44 in the second half. Most of the scoring came from Georgia’s big frontline. Rayshaun Hammonds led the way with 18 points, Nicolas Claxton added 15 and 9 rebounds and Derek Ogbeide had 14. Junior guard Jordan Harris, getting his second straight start, gave the Bulldogs four double-figure scorers with 10 points, all on lay-ups and dunks cutting to the basket.
Once again, though, it was backcourt play that did in the Bulldogs. LSU sophomore guard Tremont Waters finished with a season-high 26 points and added five assists. Fellow guard Skylar Mays added 20 points and was 8-of-8 from the line.
“The overall assessment was too many turnovers, not enough defensive activity, and they turned those turnovers into baskets,” Crean said. “We wanted to put a lot of pressure on Tremont Waters and he played the game without a turnover. … But we did fight. We have to figure out that we can score against these teams and not wait until the second half, but we did that. We were competitive in the sense that we were trying to do the right thing, but communication for us is still a huge aspect to improve on.”
With the loss, Georgia falls to 9-9 overall and 1-5 in SEC play. The Bulldogs return home to Athens this weekend where they’ll play host to Texas in an SEC/Big-12 Challenge matchup. The game will tipoff at 2 p.m. at Stegeman Coliseum (TV: ESPN2; Radio: WSB 750-AM and 95.5 FM)..
Georgia got within seven points 78-71, with 4:08 to play on a wild, tipped layup by Turtle Jackson. But then after forcing a missed jump shot, LSU’s Emmit Williams came down with an offensive rebound and the Tigers eventually were able to convert another layup to extend the lead.
Georgia used early 3-pointers from Claxton and Hammonds to jump out to a quick 8-2 lead, but a 14-0 run would give LSU control and the Tigers were able to carry a 48-36 advantage into halftime. Claxton was 3-for-4 from long range and led the Bulldogs with 14 points, while Amanze Ngumezi added 7.
But Georgia was undone by the same issues that has plagued it all season. Bad passes, ill-advised passes and reckless dribbling resulted in 11 first-half turnovers and numerous easy transition baskets for LSU.