Crean, Dawgs Host No. 19 LSU Saturday

February 15, 2019

Georgia Basketball Game Notes
Georgia (10-14, 1-10 SEC) vs. No. 19/21 LSU (20-4, 10-1 SEC)
Saturday, February 16 at 6:00 p.m. ET
Stegeman Coliseum (10,523) in Athens, Ga.
Watch: SEC Network (Mike Morgan, play-by-play; Pat Bradley, analyst)
Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network Flagship: WSB AM 750 Atlanta; Sirius: 94; XM: 190; Internet: 961. (Scott Howard, play-by-play; Chuck Dowdle, analyst; Tony Schiavone, producer)

The Starting 5
Georgia is averaging 8,941 fans over its 13 home dates, the highest tally since averaging a school-record 9,857 fans during 2002-03 season.
Nicolas Claxton's 63 blocks is the No. 7 season tally in UGA history. He is 31 swats shy of the school record held by his dad, Charles.
UGA's roster sports a nation-leading 6 left-handed players. In the Bulldogs' last three games, four of those southpaws started.
Derek Ogbeide is No. 9 among UGA's career rebounding leaders...and is currently 14 boards from the No. 8 spot.
UGA's coaching staff sports a combined 80 seasons of D-I experience (Crean-28, Scott-27, Dollar-23, Abdur-Rahim-12) with 38 postseason bids

The Opening Tip
The Georgia Bulldogs host No. 19/21 LSU on Saturday evening in a sold-out Stegeman Coliseum. The contest will be Georgia's sixth-consecutive sellout at home, and the seventh in an eight-game span.

Promo Giveaway: Yante Bobblehead
The first 1,500 fans in attendance at Saturday's game against LSU will receive a free Yante Maten bobblehead. 

Maten was named the 2018 AP SEC Player of the Year after leading the league in scoring, both overall (19.3 ppg) and in SEC games (19.2 ppg). Among Georgia's career statistical leaders, he completed his career at No. 2 in scoring (1,886 points), No. 3 in blocks (198 rejections) and No. 4 in rebounds (889 boards).

Series History With The Tigers
LSU sports a 65-47 lead in the all-time series between the Bulldogs and Tigers; however, Georgia owns a 28-22 edge in games played in Athens. In fact, the Bulldogs have won the last five matchups at Stegeman Coliseum.

Up Next: The "Other" Bullldogs
After four midweek road trips, Georgia will remain in Athens and host Mississippi State on Wednesday evening.

The Dogs Are Drawing
Last Saturday's Ole Miss game upped Georgia's season attendance numbers. 

The Bulldogs are averaging 8,941 fans over 13 home games this season, their highest average since a school-record mark of 9,857 during the 2002-03 campaign. If it holds, that would be the third-highest average in school history.

Tom Crean's inaugural season with the Bulldogs' has carried historic ramifications for Georgia Basketball from an attendance standpoint, including:
Georgia announced sellouts of the Florida and Kentucky games on Oct. 24, the earliest date for a game to sell out in program history.
The Texas game became a third sellout two days later on Oct. 26. Before this season, the Bulldogs never had more than one sellout prior to beginning the regular season.
In December, all available tickets for the LSU, South Carolina and Ole Miss games were sold. The six sellouts before the calendar rolled over represented the most in program history.
Georgia drew 9,018 fans for the season opener against Savannah State, UGA's biggest crowd for a home opener in 37 seasons...since Dominique Wilkins' sophomore year in Athens in 1981-82.
The UMass game on Dec. 30 also sold out, giving Georgia a minimum of seven sellouts this season. That represents the Bulldogs' most sellouts since having a school-record nine in 2002-03.

It should be noted that 2,000 free seats for UGA students must be filled for those "sellouts" to have capacity crowds of 10,523.


Georgia Head Coach Tom Crean 
On LSU… 
“LSU is playing as, they’re really playing as good as any team in the league because of the way Tennessee and Kentucky are playing, but the intensity, the competitiveness they had the other night playing against Kentucky was incredible! The way they went on the road and made plays. Tremont Waters, when you combine his defensive quickness, his ability to pass, score, shoot, make the game easier for everybody else, there may be somebody playing as well, but I can’t imagine anybody playing better, and I certainly haven’t watched every guard in the country up close and personal like I have him. He just makes everything go for them, and their entire team whether it’s the freshman like Emmitt Williams, who came in and impacted the game tremendously against Kentucky. Whether it is Naz Reid who is playing outstanding. Whether it's Bigby-Williams, Skylar Mays, Javonte Smart, you name it, those guys are playing at a really high level. So, Will [Wade] is doing a great job coaching them. They share the ball. They move the ball extremely well. They defend. Their offensive rebounding might be the best thing that they do, in the sense that they do so many things, especially when you score in the mid-80s like they are. So we have, we have our hands full in this one, big time. We will get into more of the preparation for them today. A lot of it yesterday was us getting better, working on what we need to improve upon in order to get ready for this game and others, and really diving into LSU more so today.” 
On good second-half against LSU in Baton Rouge… 
“If we can get our run game going. If we can get our running game going, and if we can get stops, that’s really what it comes down to. We have to keep them off the glass. We had some timely turnovers in that game, in the first half and in the second half when we were making runs. We move well without the ball in that game. We cut pretty efficiently and we didn’t create that many turnovers on them, and then at the end of the game we had to do a better job of guarding the ball one-on-one. That is where Tremont Waters really hurt us. He made some timely baskets late in the game. We also let them get going too much in transition and that’s something, I said the offensive rebounding, but the transition is something that they do an incredibly good job of too. Hopefully those things will show some of that, but again it's a matter of us staying true to how we need to play, really more than anything else it’s bringing our practice games to the game. If we could bring yesterday’s practice to the game I would feel really confident. Right? But that’s not always the way its been for us, and we have got to learn to do more of that.” 
On Christian Harrison’s transition of roles from last year to this year… 
“Tough. Just tough. Gritty. Hustles. For the most part, doesn’t try to do what’s not there, and will get on the glass. He can defend. He doesn’t need the ball to impact the game. He brings an energy to his teammates.” 
On lessons learned from this season… 
“I think you do it everyday. I think you just learn things everyday. You learn things about your team. You learn things about your opponent. You learn things about what you want to do better. It’s all part of it, all a part of the equation.” 
On the ball "being in the cylinder”… 
“That’s a good question. That’s a good question. I’ve watched that a couple of times. Not as in, not as intently as John Calipari has, but it was right there. You know what? At the end of the day that goes to show why they are so good. Why this league is so good. Okay. It’s the offensive rebounding. It’s the boards. Kentucky moves over to block a shot and leave Bigby-Williams unattached, then there he is and gets the tip. So whether it was or whether isn’t or wasn’t, it counted and you just have to do a great job of being able to block out on the weak side. It’s easier said than done. I certainly know that, but that is so key in a game like this against a team like this.” 
On lopsided losses this season and against LSU… 
“Absolutely. Don’t turn it over. Right? Block out. Don’t turn it over, alright? Give yourself a chance to execute a play, and I think that’s where the pressure of the game, the pressure of the moment is one thing, but it can’t exceed your execution, and that’s what is happening for us, and I think sometimes we try to make plays that aren’t there. And whether it’s a costly turnover, a charge, things like that— we need to really dive in and trust the offense and then come back connected defensively.”
On whether he’s reached the mindset of “nothing else to lose…"
"I don’t use that. I don’t have that mindset, and I’ve never looked at it like that. I mean, I just don’t look at the game like that. I don’t look at coaching like that. I look at each game as its own separate case study of preparation. We get ourselves prepared for [the game], and then each separate game is a case study in a sense of, 'What’s it going to take to win it?' That’s where you have to be flexible. Maybe the closest I would get to that [mindset] is to say you throw caution to the wind, right? But I do’n’t use that term at all in my coaching. I think it really bears down to if you’re going to play the game and your players are giving you everything you have and you’re prepared for it, you owe it yo yourself to give yourself every opportunity to win that game, no matter who’s in, who’s not; not matter how you’re trying to play it; no matter what you’re trying to do offensively or defensively. You don’t stop until the game is over."
On how he’s getting his players through the frustration of five-straight losses…
"Well, we’ve got to become a better team, right? That sounds cliche-ish, but it’s really true. Teammates are connected more, defensively. They’re connected more offensively, when they’re moving the ball. You don’t let frustration show up in a possession. You don’t let your own mistake— we’re 25 seconds in and you let down, okay?- and that affects the other guys, alright? The margin of error in this league is so small. SO, I think it’s more that than anything else, and you keep preaching that, time and time again. You show it, you coach it, you do everything you can, and eventually, if you’re working “team” enough, then “family has a chance to come from that. But, that’s the bottom line— getting guys to be as competitive as they can be, put them in as many competitive situations in practice and we can be in, and just keep trying to build a standard, right? There’s a standard we want to be in. There’s a vision for the program, right? But each and every day we’ve still got to try and find ways to be better, you know, no matter where we’re at. We’ve got to find a way to be better that helps prepare us mentally and physically for the next game, and I think we’ve spent enough time on that, and there’s not really enough time to worry about the other stuff. I think that’s where we’re trying to spend the crux of our time." 
On whether he thinks the team is as close as he’d like it to be at this point…
"I think that teams go through growth processes. So, I don’t know. You can’t judge that really easily. I think the most important thing is, “Are they connected on the court?” Because you can have the closest bunch of guys that sing Kumbaya in the locker room and have dinner together every night, but if you’re not connected on the court it’s really not going to make a bit of difference. At the end of the day, though, if you don’t have some of those things— if you don’t have the level of closeness, then you’re not going to be connected on the court, too. So, they really go hand-in-hand, but right now I want to see us being as competitive as we can possibly be on the court and try to make the game easier for everyone else, and that’s where our goals are.”
On Tyree Crump’s recent performance and what he tells him...
"He presses at times. He tries too hard at times, right, but they all try too hard at times, because they want to do well. SO, you have to really work with that. It’s not, “Don’t do this, don’t do that.” It’s us putting him in a many situations— and I’ve said this ten times in here— to get lost in the game. Well, everyone else knows he can shoot, right? We’ve got to do an even better job of getting him lost in the game, but then he’s got to do an even better job of screening, getting lose from that, being ready to shoot when he catches it, being ready in a catch-and-shoot situation; not have his head down when he gets the ball, but see the floor. One thing we’re challenging I’m on every time is to make more passes, make more passes, make more passes; it’ll be amazing how much more the ball will come back to you. I could say that about everybody right now, because the more we’re moving the ball with cutting and ball movement and body movement, the more open we’re going to be. But it’s not just one area of the court— sometimes we get stagnant because we don’t get the ball reversed during plays to the corners as much as we need to, and he would be a part of that just as much as anybody else would, absolutely not in a sense— we want him to be confident, okay? We just want him to be clearheaded on what’s there— see it. When I say clearheaded I mean, 'See what’s there. See the court. Don’t press, and don’t feel that pressure.’ Just for him to let it go and play, and some of his misses become very fundamental-driven. Being whether he fades or falls back and doesn’t hold his follow-through— little things like that. So, we try to help with that; make sure he sees it in the game and on film and practice it and get ready for the next one." 
On how much the team needs to be locked in mentally to do well..
"I think I’ve said this in a sense that I spend a lot of time right now in the games, trying to get them to be confident, trying to get them to see the long-range game as it is. It’s not just the long-range season, but just how long the game is, how many opportunities there are in the game, how fast the game can be. The LSU was a great example last time. You know, it would’ve been very easy to get our head down in that game but I thought we were resilient in that game, and that’s what we strive to get across., You don’t use that term as much, okay, but that resiliency in possession by possession is so important. So, we spend time on that and try to correct on what we’re bot doing well. But in the game, you’re trying to get through the game, right? You’re trying to give them every bit of confidence and ability to see it and to get through the game to give themselves the best chance to win. Then they’ll sort it all out afterwards and in the film and they’ll see the different types of situations.”
Sophomore Forward Nicolas Claxton 
On LSU's upset of Kentucky...
"They had a huge win against Kentucky on the road, so they're coming with a lot of confidence, but at this point in the season to be honest, we have nothing to lose so we might as well just go out there and play and give it our all and just try to shock the world." 
On having five straight losses with seven games to go...
"Nobody imagined this at the beginning of the season that we'd hit this rough patch, but there's nothing that we can do about it now that we can do about the past, but we can just focus on these next seven games and go out and give it our all and just try to get out any wins that we possibly can." 
On frustrations of the team...
"I can't lie and say there isn't. There is frustration going on throughout the team but that's when coaches and leaders such as myself have to step in, just try to bring everybody together, just focus on the task at hand."
On learning curve of new coaches and players...
"I wouldn't blame it on the learning curve. I wouldn't say the new coaching staff that would be the reason that we're losing. It's just making sure that everybody's coming together and just problems such as defense, such as turnovers." 
On biggest focuses for improvement...
"Our biggest thing of improvement probably would be defense and making sure we're just staying in front of the ball and taking care of the ball, not giving up live ball turnovers and just making sure we're staying together as one unit throughout the game." 
On what he is happy with now...
"We've been losing, so there's not much that I really like. All we can do is just try to come in day by day and just get better.” 

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