Georgia men’s basketball beat the 20th Missouri 80-70 Tuesday night at the Stegeman Coliseum. The Bulldogs were on a two-game losing streak before their first win over a ranked opponent this season. Here are some observations from the Red & Black:
The return of Georgia
Georgias 21-5 run over six minutes brought energy and life back into what was a dormant offense. The Bulldogs were hit hard in the second period with an 11-2 run in Missouri, but they found some opportune 3-point shots with a smaller group on the ground.
A lineup of Sahvir Wheeler, KD Johnson, Jaxon Etter, Justin Kier and Andrew Garcia led the Bulldogs in the critical race that reduced the deficit to just one point. Head coach Tom Crean said he used the unorthodox training to change momentum and make Georgia harder to defend.
It wasn’t so much about positions back then as it was about energy, resistance and movement, Crean said. “Whenever we have Jaxon and KD in there, they bring in a level of energy and a level of competitiveness that I think helps guys. It was a fortune line not based on who keeps who, but who gonna fight, compete and get on that glass.
The transition trios between Etter and Kier reignited Georgias’ shooting touch, which led to a confident filming streak the rest of the time. The Bulldogs’ energy poured from the bench to the players on a heavy layer of Toumani Camaras by contact and Etters pulled the charge.
Georgias pushed late to regain the lead on his own saved what was another bad night from the 3 point line. The 2 out of 9 start was improved by a rate of 5 out of 6 (83.3%) in the second half, unlike the efficiency of Missouris which improved slightly, from 20% to 27.3%.
The Bulldogs entered the game with a renewed sense of intensity after losing historically to Alabama, 115-82. The Bulldogs started the game 14-8 with the help of Kiers first 10 points, but stalled on offense in the mid-game.
The offense came when needed, however, putting Georgia on the right foot and helping to survive ineffective stretches against one of the SEC’s best opponents.
We just made some critical mistakes in the first and second half, Kier said. But we locked that down and you saw the outcome of the game. We continued to stop.
Production of benches
Georgias’ bench unit was crucial in keeping the game close against a Missouri team capable of pulling out at any time. Garcia led the reserve with 13 points on a 6-for-10 shot as part of the critical roster that brought the Bulldogs back into the game.
The bench brought energy through the night, whether in the form of scores from Johnson and Garcias, or charges shot from Etter.
The offense was great, the defense was great, everyone was talking, Camara said. The connection between all was excellent.
Georgia held a resounding bench-point lead over Missouri, whose top scorer Xavier Pinson struggled effectively. The Bulldogs had 32 points split between Johnson, Garcia and Etter, compared to the 11 scored by the entire Tigers squad.
The absence of Jérémie Tilmon
Missouri were without their best rebounder and third-highest scorer in their loss to Georgia. Tilmon missed his second game in a row due to a death in the family. The 6-foot-10 senior forward is averaging 12.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game this season.
The Tigers, however, found production from a source they needed to step up in Tilmons’ absence despite the loss. Sophomore forward Kobe Brown took over on offense, scoring a game-high 21 points and posting five rebounds. The Browns’ score has risen significantly after averaging 6.7 points this season.
The rebound is probably where Missouri felt the absence of Tilmons against Georgia the most. The Bulldogs are undersized compared to most other SEC teams, but still managed to hold a 34-31 lead over the Tigers on the glass.