Written by Adrian Beecher
Athens, GA – New head coach Tom Crean and the University of Georgia basketball team wrapped up their final exhibition ahead of the start of the regular season on Friday night at Stegeman Coliseum against West Georgia with a 98-59 win.
UGA won the tip and Nicholas Claxton put in a quick layup for the Dawgs to get things started against West Georgia and shortly followed that up with a dunk to make it 4-0 early.
The Dawgs would open up a 6-0 lead before the Wolves got their first basket of the night, which came at the free throw line. After Aren Ulmer made one of his two free throws, the Bulldogs struck back quickly. They drained back to back triples from Teshaun Hightower and Tyree Crump to make it 12-1 with 14:53 left in the first half.
West Georgia’s Gerald Blount drained a triple to put a stop to the run, the Wolves first field goal of the game. A dunk from Derek Ogbeide pushed the lead back to 10 for UGA.
Shortly after the under 12-minute timeout, the Dawgs would go on a 13-0 run, highlighted by triples from Tye Fagan, Crump and Claxton.
After the under 8 minute timeout, Blount hit a layup plus an and-1 to stop the bleeding momentarily. However, Hightower answered right back at the other end of the floor with the Dawgs 6th triple of the night to put the lead back to 21.
The Dawgs continued to pull away and stayed hot behind the arc, with two more triples, coming from Hightower and Amanze Ngumezi. This made it 39-13 with 5:16 left in the 1st half.
UWG was able to put together a 9-2 run down the stretch to cut the Dawgs lead to 20. After a Georgia dunk, a triple from Tommaso as the end of the half cut the UGA lead to 19. It was 44-25 Bulldogs at the end of the 1st half.
At the half, Hightower led the Dawgs in scoring with 8 points, with Hammons and Claxton leading the charge on the board with 5 each. Jordan Harris rounded out the 1st half leaders for the Dawgs with 3 assists and 3 blocks.
The 2nd half got underway with Ogbeide slamming in a dunk to push the Dawgs lead back over 20. This would spark an 8-0 run to start the 2nd half to put UGA up by 27 with 17:48 left in the 2nd half.
The Dawgs hot streak from downtown slowed to start the 2nd half. Their first triple of the 2nd half wouldn’t come until there was 12:24 left in regulation, as Crump drained one to push the lead to the largest of the night to that point at 28. Then a layup from Mike Edwards would extend the UGA lead to a cool 30 at 65-35.
Down the stretch, things got a bit chippy with UWG forward Karlos Odum picking up a technical foul. This sent Harris to the line for the Dawgs as he hit both free throws to make it 82-46 with only 6:44 left to play.
The three kept falling for UGA, Crump would drain his 6th of the night with 2:25 left to play to make it 95-54. In the end, the Dawgs wrapped things up at Stegeman Coliseum with a 98-59 victory.
“It’s a free offense; so if you’re open, shoot the ball. Try to create for others. It was one of those nights where I was open a lot, so I just shot the ball.”
Crump led the team with 18 points on the night, all coming from the triple. Rayshaun Hammonds and Claxton led the Dawgs with 9 boards each.
Despite the large margin of victory, a key area of struggle for Georgia was turning the ball over. UGA had 26 turnovers that led to 26 of the Wolves 59 points, something UGA head coach Tom Crean attributed to the faster style of play the Dawgs are moving to this season.
” We’re trying to build a much faster style of play. Obviously, we’re not going to be able to play that fast and have those kinds of turnovers and fouls. But that’s why its the exhibition season.”, said Crean, ” There’s a lot of room for improvement and a lot of time for improvement. We’ve just got to make sure we don’t waste any of that time.”
The Bulldogs will open up the regular season Friday, November 9th at home against Savannah State at 8:30 pm inside Stegeman Coliseum.
(Image Credit: Bernard Ayala / The SkyBoat)