UGA Tries to Break Attendance Record Against Auburn

February 26, 2019

Georgia Basketball Game Notes
Georgia (10-17, 1-13 SEC) vs. Auburn (18-9, 7-7 in SEC)
Wednesday, February 28 at 9:00 p.m. ET
Stegeman Coliseum (10,523) in Athens, Ga.
Watch: SEC Network (Tom Hart, play-by-play; Seth Greenberg, analyst)
Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network Flagship: WSB AM 750 Atlanta; XM: 385; Internet: 976. (Scott Howard, play-by-play; Chuck Dowdle, analyst; Tony Schiavone, producer)

The Starting 5…
• Georgia is 5,887 fans shy of breaking the program’s total attendance record. The Bulldogs’ smallest crowd this season was 5,947.
• Nicolas Claxton is one of three Division I MBB players to lead his team in scoring, rebounding, assists, blocks and steals.
• With an average 9,611 fans, Stegeman has been 91.3 percent full for UGA’s SEC seven home dates. That’s 4th-best in the league.
• Jordan Harris has put up a career-high point total in each of the last three games, with 12 points vs. LSU, 13 vs. Mississippi St. & 15 at Ole Miss.
• 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
Georgia hosts Auburn on Wednesday looking to continue improved performances of late. The Bulldogs have lost their last three games – all to projected NCAA Tournament teams – by a combined six points.

History will be made prior to the contest. The Bulldogs are currently 5,887 fans shy of breaking the program’s all-time total attendance record. With advance sells already well over that mark – not to mention those sales don’t include a UGA single student – a new standard will certainly be set on Wednesday.

To date, 133,683 fans have attended Georgia’s 15 home outings this season. The existing record is 139,570 fans established in 2015-16 when Georgia hosted 19 home games.

Promo Giveaway: UGA Students Get Free Food, Clothes & Maybe $5,000 
UGA students who arrive early enough to get a seat in Stegeman lower bowl on Wednesday will receive a free t-shirt. The first 750 students also will receive a free Bojangles biscuit.

At halftime, two students will take part in “Make it or Take it” with the potential to win $5,000. Two students will be selected via “Commit to the G” student rewards app to play “Make It or Take It.” At halftime, two students will take part in a coin flip. The student who wins the flip will be given the chance to dribble the length of the floor and make a layup in nine seconds for $2,500. If the student makes the layup, they will be given a chance to make a 3-pointer to double their money to $5,000. If the student decides not to attempt the 3-pointer, the second student will have the chance to shoot a 3-pointer and take the $2,500 reward from the other student.

Series History With The Tigers
Georgia and Auburn have met 188 times on the hardwood. Each school has 94 wins in the series. The Bulldogs do own a healthy 61-26 edge in games played in Athens.

Up Next: A trip to See The Gators
Georgia travels to Gainesville this weekend to take on Florida. The Bulldogs and Gators met this season on Jan. 19 in Athens, with Florida securing a 62-52 win. The Gators are Georgia’s most frequent foe on the hardwood, meeting for the 219th time this Saturday.

2018-19 to Move from No. 3 To No. 1
The Bulldogs are set to break their all-time attendance record prior to Wednesday’s game against Auburn. The current total of 133,683 fans ranks third as outlined on the next page.

A crowd of 5,888 would break the record. The Bulldogs’ smallest crowd of the season was 5,947 against Kennesaw State.

UGA Basketball Total Attendance
Season Games
2015-16 19
2003-04 16
2018-19 15
2006-07 18
2010-11 16

The Dogs Are Drawing
Georgia has been drawing fans at a record pace throughout the 2018-19 campaign, including seven sellouts. 

The Bulldogs are averaging 8,912 fans over 15 home games this season, their highest average since a school-record mark of 9,857 during the 2002-03 campaign. If the current average holds, it 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. Before this season, the Bulldogs never had more than one sellout prior to the season opener.
• In December, all tickets for the LSU, South Carolina and Ole Miss games were sold. The six sellouts before the calendar rolled were UGA’s most ever.
• 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 seven sellouts. That represents the 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 “sellouts” to have capacity crowds of 10,523.

Stegeman Nearly Full Regularly
The confines of Stegeman Coliseum have been increasingly crowded this season.

Georgia’s overall attendance average of 8,912 fans in the 10,523-seat venue equates to it being 84.7 percent full over 15 home contests, which ranks No. 5 in the SEC.

The Bulldogs have drawn an average of 9,611 fans for their SEC games, meaning Stegeman has been 91.3 percent full for those seven games. That ranks No. 4 in the league behind only Florida (98.3 percent), Kentucky (98.1) and Tennessee (93.8).

Dogs Host Tigers At Stegeman
Georgia is set to host Auburn on Wednesday evening at Stegeman Coliseum, a rematch of the matchup between the Bulldogs and Tigers on Jan. 12 on The Plains.

Georgia is now 10-17 overall and 1-13 in the league. The Bulldogs are looking to continue to build on the positive momentum from their last three outings. Georgia lost those three contests – all against teams currently included in ESPN’s bracketology – by a combined six points.

Georgia pushed No. 19/21 LSU to the brink on Feb. 16 before falling, 83-79. The Bulldogs led by as many as five points midway through the second half before the Tigers rallied to improve to 11-1 in the SEC.

Last Wednesday Georgia rallied from a 17-point, second-half deficit to tie Mississippi State before a heart-breaking ending. Tyree Crump’s 3-pointer with 9.3 seconds remaining knotted the score at 67-67 before Quinndary Weatherspoon’s free throw with .5 of a second left provided State with the victory.

The Bulldogs dropped a second-straight one-point decision at Ole Miss last Saturday. Georgia rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to force four ties and six lead changes in the second stanza. The outcome wasn’t decided until the Bulldogs’ potential game-winner was off the mark at the buzzer.

Multi-dimensional Nicolas Claxton has been a “do-it-all” contributor for the Bulldogs. He is one of only three Division I players who entered this week leading his team in all five major statistics – scoring, rebounding, assists, blocks and steals. 

Rayshaun Hammonds, who has a team-high 20 double-figure performances, is averaging 12.6 ppg.

Auburn is 18-9 overall and 7-7 in the SEC. The Tigers were ranked No. 10 in the coaches’ poll and No. 11 by the AP when they hosted Georgia last month but have since dropped out of the polls.

Guards Bryce Brown and Jared Harper average 15.9 ppg and 15.1 ppg, respectively, to lead Auburn, while Chuma Okeke chips in 11.3 ppg and a team-high 6.6 rpg.

Series History With The Tigers
The all-time series between Georgia and Auburn is currently tied at 94-94; however, the Bulldogs own a healthy 61-26 advantage in Athens.

In the most recent meeting at Stegeman Coliseum on Feb. 10 last season, No. 8 Auburn topped Georgia 78-61.

The Tigers built a 40-31 halftime lead and handled every Georgia rally following the intermission. 

The Bulldogs pulled within 43-39 with 14:07 remaining and gained possession with a chance to pull closer but missed a 3-pointer and Auburn pushed its lead back to double figures just over two minutes later.

Earlier this season on Jan. 12 in Auburn, Turtle Jackson scored a season-high 16 points to lead four Bulldogs scoring in double figures; however, Georgia dropped a 93-78 road decision at No. 11/10 Auburn.

Nicolas Claxton, Tyree Crump and Teshaun Hightower added 15, 14 and 12 points respectively, and Rayshaun Hammonds hauled in a game-high 10 rebounds for Georgia.

The Bulldogs led 28-24 before Auburn used an 11-2 run to gain control.

Last Time Out...
Jordan Harris notched his third-consecutive career-high scoring output, but Georgia still suffered a 72-71 loss at Ole Miss on Saturday.

The Rebels led by 10 at the half, but Georgia opened the second stanza on a 14-2 run.

Ole Miss went back on top and eventually led 69-62 with 2:53 remaining before Harris scored seven straight – with a bucket at the 2:28 mark, a three-point play following his steal with 1:56 remaining and pair of free throws with 1:36 on the clock.

Devontae Shuler ended the surge with a 3-pointer, but Nicolas Claxton answered for Georgia. The Bulldogs missed a pair of potential game-winning 3-pointers in the final minute at the 18- and 1-second marks.

Harris’ Production Is Up
Over his last nine games, Jordan Harris has more than doubled his production over his first 15 contests. In addition, he has posted career-high point tallies in the last three games.

Entering the Florida contest on Jan. 19, Harris was averaging 4.1 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.3 blocks.

Since then, the junior from Iron City is contributing 10.7 points, 5.1 boards, 2.3 assists, 1.8 steals and 0.7 blocks.

That stretch actually covers 10 of Georgia’s games. Harris had a two-game hiatus due to concussion-like symptoms following a collision with Nicolas Claxton at LSU on Jan. 23.

Harris showed little rust in his return to action against South Carolina and finished with 11 points, six boards, four steals and two assists. His quartet of steals is the most by any Bulldog in a single game this season.

Harris equaled his career-best output with 12 points against LSU before upping that to 13 versus Mississippi State and again to 15 at Ole Miss.

Claxton In Rare Air Statistically
Nicolas Claxton enters this week as one of only three Division-I players who is leading his team in all five major stats – points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals.

As of Monday, Claxton, Matt Rafferty of Furman and Sandy Cohen III of Green Bay were the only D-I players pacing their team in that statistical quintet.

Claxton has led the Bulldogs in four of the aforementioned categories – everything but scoring – for virtually the entire season. Rayshaun Hammonds has been Georgia’s leading scorer for the most part; however, Claxton inched by him with his 18-point performance at Texas A&M on Feb. 12.

Pepplebrook Teammates Face Off
Georgia senior Derek Ogbeide and Auburn junior Jared Harper were teammates at Pebblebrook High during the 2014-15 season.

Ogbeide transferred to Pebblebrook in 2013 as a junior from Monsignor Percy Johnson Catholic High School in Toronto. Harper joined Ogbeide in 2014 following two seasons at Mr. Vernon Presbyterian School.

Ogbeide and Harper helped Pepplebrook to a 27-6 record and a runner-up finish in the 2015 Georgia 6A State Tournament. The Falcons lost in the state title tilt 59-58 to Wheeler, which finished ranked No. 6 nationally. Ogbeide grabbed 24 rebounds in that contest, a single-game record for both a Georgia High School Association (GHSA) state tournament game and a state championship contest.

Harrison Joins Starting Lineup
Redshirt senior walk-on Christian Harrison has started the Bulldogs’ last three games.

Harrison secured the first start of his collegiate career against LSU and remained in the lineup against Mississippi State and Ole Miss.

An Atlanta native, Harrison was a scholarship player for two seasons at Troy before transferring to Georgia as a walk-on.

After sitting out 2016-17, Harrison saw action in two games last season. He began this year on the scout team before earning meaningful minutes against Oakland on Dec. 18. Harrison was then was a key defensive contributor in the second half at Georgia Tech on Dec. 22 and is now a rotation regular, with action in 15 of the last 18 contests.

Against LSU, Harrison logged a career-high 19 minutes, six more than his previous high as a freshman, and spent a good portion of the second half guarding Tremont Waters.

“I just want to tip my hat off to Christian,“ Nicolas Claxton said following the LSU game, unprompted by the media. “He came here and last year didn‘t play at all. This year, his minutes have been kind of up and down. But, throughout all of that, he has just stayed persistent. He just kept grinding. He comes in every day, and he doesn‘t complain. He just comes in and works hard, and you see the results today.“ 

Ogbeide Steps Up In SEC Play
Derek Ogbeide is averaging 10.2 points and shooting a team-best 58.5 percent from the field in SEC games. That’s a significant jump from his efforts of 9.2 ppg and 49.0 percent in non-conference action.

Ogbeide would rank second in the SEC in field goal percentage among statistical leaders for league game only; however, he is slightly shy of the made field goals minimum (5.0 per game) to qualify.

Head Coach Tom Crean
On when you are in a tough streak of losing games…
“There are two paths. You can get uptight, distracted, and nervous with it or you can get full of energy, work to get better and you have a lot of life. And [the second option] that is what our guys have done. The whole uptight approach, getting nervous does not do anybody any good. These guys have really done a good job of Building on in some close games. I think when you are improving like that, it is just a matter of time before you break that door down and that is what we are trying to do. We really are. They keep improving and keep their spirits high. It is fun to be around them. They are really buying into that part of it.”
On Auburn…
“They are well coached. They are extremely fast. They shoot the three at the beginning, middle and end of the clock. They are tremendous with the shot clock and are great offensive rebounding team. That is something we had issues with last time against them. It is one of those things that you have to be good at beginning to end. You have to be good in transition and you have to be really good when the shot goes up like a lot of teams in the league. They have so many shooters on the floor that it makes it really, really hard. There are not a lot of places that you can look at and say ‘we are going to help here and help there, and you just have to be really locked in to your man and then you really have to go to work when that shot goes up’. Offensively, we have to come down and keep building on what we have been doing whether it is man or zone. Whatever it is we have to have a lot of moving, a lot of cutting and playing with confidence. We are looking forward to the crowd, we really are. It is mind boggling that to me that we will break an attendance record tomorrow night. It is humbling and very thankful on one hand, but mind boggling on the other. It says so much about that spirit of the people here – the energy and the passion that they have. And the fact that they see what we are building, so I’m very thankful for that.”
On attendance despite the team’s struggles…
“They have a lot of passion. For it to happen that fast is surprising. I would be lying if I told you at the beginning of this year that we would accomplish that. We certainly wanted to. When you get into a program it is not about building a culture. I don’t like that term, but it is about building your standards for your team, your program. You do want to establish your work ethic, your style of play, and also share your enthusiasm in your program. I think that is exactly what has happened and it is a reflection of how the fans have come out to support this season and have continued to support. They bring a lot of energy and compassion and they see how hard these guys are working. They see the future here. When I was looking and this job with Joani [Crean], it wasn’t as much about walking into something that had a ready-made tradition, the most important thing was that it mattered to the people there. Last year they were selling out weekend games. The fact is sports matter here and I don’t have to explain that to you, you know. The fact that we are doing that tomorrow night says a great deal and we are thankful for that. Those aren’t make believe adjectives.”
On close losses…
“There is a lot of disappointment and you’d rather have that. There were times this season that I didn’t sense that and that is not how you build a program and win. It is hard. My job is to keep remind them of how close we are. If anyone is walking out of there thinking they heard a moral victory speech then they are wrong, but the fact is that we are close. We just have to stick with what we are doing and we have to know that the margin for error is very, very slim. We have to keep taking care of things during the game. The last two games for us to have a chance to take it to overtime or have a chance to win it shows the character of these guys and the way they are working.”
On if he envisioned setting the attendance record prior to season…
“I wouldn’t think we’d set it this season. I thought we would of set it at one point, but not the first year. Now we have to keep it going. I had no idea what it was. I wouldn’t of taken the bet and I don’t think Vegas would of put odds on it either.”
On his SEC expectations being higher preseason than what they transpired…
“You have to have that belief. It is not a make believe belief or a tell you [media] belief. We have had some rough roads and different experiences this season. I don’t think I had any illusions that it was going to be easy, but until you get into the league you don’t realize how hard it really is. I never thought that we would just ‘get in and do it’, I have too much respect for the league. Again, I didn’t have the working knowledge of going through it. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, when it comes to guys that can get shots, rebounding, depth of the league, I’ve never been in a league like this and I’ve been a part of some great leagues. I’ve had some long runs, some championships and rough runs – you’ve seen everything if you coach long enough. The bottom line though is that this league is top-to-bottom as good of a league that I’ve ever been a part of.”
On team’s health throughout the season…
“That is always a concern with a long season, and we’ll taper things back, but those things do come and you just have to stay prepared. When it happens, you just have to move forward. There is no way around it. It is like a game, win or lose, you move forward. There is another game until there is not.”
On if he’s noticed some consistency…
“Continuity and consistency are two different things. We have not had the level of consistency that we need. That is not a secret. We have had a consistent work ethic and working to get better – I would say that, but consistency in games and that, we have not had. We would have a different record. When you have lulls in games and the league is this good, they will capitalize. That is why the league is so good. You can play really well for 27 seconds or so, but you suddenly you make a mistake and you pay for it. As far as continuity of people, that has been good. There is no question that we are on a quest to be a more consistent basketball team. We are working towards it, that is no question.”
On Jordan Harris from start of season to now…
“He wanted to play more without a doubt, that is no question. It didn’t start out with ‘you have to score more’ - no it was ‘you have to rebound more’. He is as good of an athlete as anybody on this team, but you have to rebound with confidence and a vengeance. Great rebounds have a vengeance, because they think every ball is theirs. He has rebounded that way. This comes back to the consistency though. It is never about how you are going to score, or shoot, but it is about how you can do the other things. The things other than what you would like to do and focus on the things you need to do like defending, rebounding, loose balls, moving the ball quick, moving without the ball, screening better. They are all things that lead to scoring. That is what you are seeing with Jordan. He moves well without the ball and there are areas on the court that he is phenomenal at shooting. He goes after the ball defensively and goes after the board defensively, which is really important.”
On program future of having midweek games highly attended…
“No doubt about that. I want scalpers to have fights like they had outside before the Ole Miss game. I read about that in one of y’alls paper…We’ll get to a point where they are all happy, but jokes aside the next step is for this [weekday game] to be a tough ticket. When that happens, which it will. I’m confident in that, it’ll be great, but right now where we are at in attendance is remarkable." 

Junior Guard Jordan Harris
On if it surprises you the way the fans keep showing up despite the conference record… 
“I have been surprised, I think we all have been. Despite the losses we have taken, people continue to show up and continue to support and cheer for us. For me, that has been really good and really really good to everybody around here. It has been surprising, but I hope they continue to show up.” 
On if the crowds showing up now ever makes you think of what it will be like when the team is winning… 
“It is going to be crazy. I can’t even imagine how it is going to be next year, or in the years to come. It is going to be crazy around here.” 
On if there was a specific game where the fans showing up really surprised you… 
“Every game has been really good. But I think the UMass game was probably the most surprising for me because it was during our break and a lot of people went home but we still almost sold it out, if we didn’t completely sell it out. That was just shocking to me and it was a good thing for all of us to see because none of us expected it to be like that that night. They have continued to show up since that night.” 
On if it means more that they are showing up even when the team is struggling… 
“It means a lot. Like I said, when this thing gets rolling and once we get back on track with the wins and things get good around here, that is when it is going to be really crazy. I am excited for the future, I am excited for our game tomorrow night I am pretty sure there is going to be a lot of people here. I am pretty sure people will come out and cheer like they have been doing all year. It has been crazy so far.” 
On how surprised recruits have been with the atmosphere… 
“I think it has been really good for recruits. If they came last year, it depended on what game they came to if there was a big crowd but you can come to almost any game this year and expect to get that excitement from the crowd. You can expect to get the passion and all that the students bring. I think it has been really good for us from a recruiting standpoint.” 
On your thoughts of what the program may look with the addition of the recruits… 
“I have no idea as of today but I am pretty sure next year is going to be good. We are definitely adding some more talent. I haven’t really looked into to as far as breaking down what players can and cannot do. But I have heard a lot of great things that I am really excited about. I am pretty sure everybody else is excited and we are going to try and put it all together and make something special.” 
On how much you guys as players can feel the increased energy around the program… 
“You can feel it, you can feel it everyday. But you can feel it more towards game day. The closer you get to the game, the more you feel it. I think it is a blessing for everyone around here. I think Georgia Basketball has been needing this for a long time. Everything is different now. It is even crazier to me because of our record. But obviously people do not take the losses as deep as you think they would. Winning would obviously help, but as long as they see you playing and competing hard, I think the fans appreciate that.” 
On your game and playing with more confidence… 
“Being healthy and being confident and working out everyday. I have been working on my sweet spots and focusing on where I need to score the ball. Just watching a lot of film and having the guys and the coaches around me telling me what they need and what they are looking for. It has been really helpful and really good for me as an individual to be able to go out there and play my game the way I know how to play it. I have just been myself, honestly.” 
On if you have been dealing with any other injuries besides the concussion from early in the season…
“Just the concussion and I hurt my toe a while back, a long time ago. Nothing major, just a little banged up. It just took some time, not long, but I am back now and I feel good.” 
On the consistent motivation and not loosing motivation despite the outcomes of games… 
“I think when teams go through things like we have been through, a lot of teams fall apart. But the stuff we have been going through and the stuff we have dealt with together has just brought us closer. We are still fighting with something and playing with everything that we have, whether it is pride or whatever it is. We continue to give it everything we have. We are not only trying to build for the future but we are trying to get better everyday.” 
On what Auburn does well… 
“They play with good speed and they can shoot the ball really well. They crash the offensive boards really hard. They are a young team with a lot of great energy that has been together for a while. It is definitely going to be a battle, Auburn is a really good team and we are looking forward to it.” 
On what you have been working on individually to improve your game… 
“Shot selection has been really big for me. Being aware of where I am at on the court and if I have a shot, take it. Coach tells me if I have an open shot to take it. I can hear him if I catch the ball in front of him saying kill it, knock it down, take it. That gives not only me but anyone he tells that to the confidence. If you have your coach behind you like that, sometimes you feel unstoppable.” 



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