Dawgs Try to Get Over the SEC Hump Against Gators

March 1, 2019

Georgia Basketball Game Notes
Georgia (10-18, 1-14 SEC) vs. Florida (17-11, 9-6 in SEC)
Saturday, March 2 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Exactech Arena (10,151) in Gainesville, Fla.
Watch: SEC Network (Dave Neal, play-by-play; Daymeon Fishback, analyst)
Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network Flagship: WSB AM 750 Atlanta; XM: 383; Internet: 974. (Scott Howard, play-by-play; Chuck Dowdle, analyst; Tony Schiavone, producer)

The Starting 5…
• Georgia broke its all-time total attendance record at Wednesday’s game with Auburn. The new mark is 141,520 with one game to play.
• Jordan Harris has put up a career-high point total in each of the last four games – 12 points vs. LSU, 13 vs. Mississippi St., 15 at Ole Miss & 18 vs. Auburn.
• Turtle Jackson and Tyree Crump are currently No. 15 and No. 16 among UGA’s career 3-point leaders, separated by just one trifecta.
• Nicolas Claxton leads UGA in points, rebounds, blocks and steals...and is just two behind Turtle Jackson for the team lead in assists.
• 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 ventures to Gainesville to face Florida on Saturday evening, five weeks after the Gators secured a 72-62 win in Athens.

The Bulldogs are looking to further the improvement they’ve shown of late. 

Georgia has lost its last four outings – all to projected NCAA Tournament teams – by a combined nine points. The outcome of the last three games against Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Auburn wasn’t decided until last-second shot attempts. More info on each outing can be found later in these Game Notes.

In the March 1 edition of ESPN’s Bracketology, the Bulldogs’ last four foes are seeded at No. 4 (LSU), No. 6 (Mississippi State), No. 8 (Auburn) and No. 9 (Ole Miss).

Hammonds Out: Day-to-Day 
Rayshaun Hammonds, Georgia’s second-leading scorer and rebounder, missed Wednesday’s game with Auburn. His status is currently “day-to-day.”

Hammonds injured his right foot during the Ole Miss game last Saturday but didn’t experience any significant discomfort until Monday. He sat out the Auburn game, snapping his streak of 31 straight starts dating back to last season’s regular-season finale at Tennessee.

Hammonds is averaging 12.6 ppg and 6.3 rpg, with a team-high 20 double-digit scoring performances this season. He is shooting 80.6 percent from the line, which ranks No. 7 among SEC stat leaders.

Series History With The Gators
Florida sports a 114-104 lead in the all-time series between the Gators and the Bulldogs, including a 65-38 edge in Gainesville.

Georgia won both its home and road matchups with Florida last season, supplying the Bulldogs first win in Gainesville since 2002 and their first season sweep of the Gators since the 1996-97 campaign.

Up Next: Senior Night vs. Mizzou
Georgia will host Missouri on Wednesday night in the Bulldogs’ Senior Night.

Prior to tipoff, Georgia’s six seniors – Christian Harrison, Turtle Jackson, Derek Ogbeide, Connor O’Neill and E’Torrion Wilridge – will be honored in ceremonies slated to begin at 6:13 (with 13:00 on the countdown clock).

Bulldogs Set Attendance Mark
Georgia broke its all-time home total attendance record with Wednesday night’s game against Auburn. 

The Bulldogs drew a crowd of 7,837 on Wednesday, upping their total fan count this season to 141,520. That topped the previous mark of 139,570 as outlined below.
UGA Basketball Total Attendance
Season Games
2018-19 16
2015-16 19
2003-04 16
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 8,845 fans over 16 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 8,845 fans in the 10,523-seat venue equates to it being 84.1 percent full over 16 home contests, which ranks No. 5 in the SEC.

The Bulldogs have drawn an average of 9,390 fans for their SEC games, meaning Stegeman has been 89.2 percent full for those eight outings. That mark also ranks No. 5 in the SEC.

Dogs To Face Gators In Gainesville
Georgia will pay a visit to the Florida Gators in Gainesville on Saturday evening, the Bulldogs’ fifth straight outing against a projected NCAA Tournament team.

Georgia is now 10-18 overall and 1-14 in the league. The Bulldogs are looking to continue to build on the positive momentum from their last four contests. Georgia dropped that quartet of decisions – all against teams currently included in ESPN’s bracketology – by a combined nine 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.

On Feb. 20, 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.

On Wednesday night, Georgia erased a 14-point, first-half Auburn lead. The second half featured two ties and eight lead changes. The Tigers finally pulled out the victory on Chuma Okeke’s 3-pointer from NBA range as the shot clock expired on Auburn’s final possession of the night.

Multi-dimensional Nicolas Claxton has been a “do-it-all” contributor for the Bulldogs. He currently leads Georgia in scoring, rebounding, blocks and steals. Claxton also is second on the team in assists (trailing Turtle Jackson by two). 

Rayshaun Hammonds, the Bulldogs’ second-leading scorer and rebounder, missed the Auburn game due to a right foot injury sustained in the Ole Miss game on Feb. 23. His status is “day-to-day.”

Derek Ogbeide and Tyree Crump are just shy of double-digit scoring averages with both players contributing 9.9 ppg.

Florida is 17-11 overall and 9-6 in the SEC. The Gators are in the midst of a five-game winning streak.

KeVaughn Allen and Noah Locke pace Florida offensively. Allen is averaging 12.8 ppg, while Locke chips in 10.5. Four more Gators are averaging between 7.4-8.1 ppg.

Series History With The Gators
The Bulldogs and the Gators will meet for the 219th time on Saturday, with Florida owning a 114-104 advantage in the overall series and a 65-38 edge in Gainesville.

Florida is Georgia’s most frequent foe on the hardwood. Trailing the Gators on the list of most matchups for Georgia is Georgia Tech with 195 and Auburn with 189.

In the Bulldogs’ last trip to Gainesville, Yante Maten ripped out the Gators’ hearts last Feb. 14 while leading the Bulldogs to a 72-69 overtime victory in Gainesville. 

A pair of Maten 3-pointers in the final 16 seconds helped Georgia rally from a six-point deficit and force the extra period.

Florida led by seven at the halftime intermission and pushed that margin to 50-39 on a KeVaughn Allen jumper with 10:03 remaining. 

Georgia chipped away at the margin, but still trailed by six following a pair of Egor Koulechov free throws with 25 seconds left.

Maten canned his first 3-pointer from the right wing with 15.8 seconds on the clock. Following a timeout, Florida was whistled for traveling on an inbounds pass to give the ball back to the Bulldogs. Maten then drained a 25-foot jumper from straightaway to knot the score and force OT.

Georgia jumped out to a 66-60 lead in the extra session and held on to secure the Bulldogs’ first victory in Gainesville since 2002.

Georgia and Florida met five weeks ago in Athens, with the Gators withstanding a second-half rally to earn a 72-62 win before a sold-out Stegeman Coliseum.

The Gators built a 33-23 halftime lead before Georgia opened the second half with an 8-0 surge. The Bulldogs eventually tied the game at 40-40 on a Teshaun Hightower 3-pointer at the 15:40 mark.

That momentum continued as Georgia built a 48-43 advantage with just under 10 minutes remaining. The Gators regained control by scoring the next dozen points and did not allow the Bulldogs closer than five points the rest of the way.

Last Time Out...
Jordan Harris notched his fourth-consecutive career-high scoring output, but Georgia still suffered a 78-75 loss to Auburn on Wednesday night in Athens.

Auburn led by as many at 14 points late in the first half before Georgia rallied.

The Bulldogs trimmed that margin to 50-40 at the intermission and used a 13-0 run in the second half to go up 58-57 with 11:07 left.

Following seven more lead changes and a pair of ties, the Tigers went back on top on a long 3-pointer as the shot clock expired with 26 ticks remaining. Tyree Crump’s attempt to tie the game as time expired missed the mark.


Georgia Basketball Pregame Quotes
Georgia vs. Florida
Quotes from Friday, March 1, 2019
Head Coach Tom Crean
On Rayshaun Hammonds’ availability…
“We didn’t do a lot on the court at all yesterday, so we’ll just see how he is today. But, he’s definitely been taking steps. It’s still day to day right now.”
On Jojo Toppin’s work ethic and playing ability…
“Jojo works so hard. It’s just a matter of time for him. It really is. I don’t know if there’s been a night when we’ve had a home game that someone hasn’t seen him shooting in the main gym or practice gym after the game. That’s an uncommon desire. He’s just got to keep improving, understanding the speed of the game, find that niche and role and he works hard every day. Great young guy and there’s no question he’s got to learn to use his athleticism even more in the games especially in tight spaces. We just want to keep him understanding to simplify his game and the speed of the game a little more.”
On if it’s hard to harness athleticism throughout the season…
“I don’t know if it’s hard, it’s just learning how to use your athleticism even more in a basketball sense. Not driving into two people as much, and he’s just got to keep building his skills. Really like, when you look at Christian Harrison, Christian Harrison’s gone in and taken minutes because he just plays so hard and tough and he’ll defend. Jojo’s certainly just got to keep getting better at that. All the freshmen go through that, it’s a really hard league. It’s a really hard league and you want to go in and improve yourself rather than go in and play. Let it happen. F Amanze [Ngumezi] runs into that sometimes. He wants to go in and do something rather than just let it happen. It always works a lot better when you just let it happen and you can control what you can control like your defense, your rebounding, your cutting, your passing, those types of things and getting into the flow of the game. But it’s not hard to harness athleticism. What you want to do is you want to take basketball players and make them better athletes and you want to take better athleticism and make it apply better to basketball. A lot of the times it’s in the same guy and you keep working on it every day to keep building them to the level. Sometimes guys come in as tremendous athletes like Victor Oladipo was and you’ve just got to learn how to be a better basketball player. Sometimes they come in as better basketball players and they’ve got to build their athleticism and learn how much more they can do inside of that. And sometimes they’re both, but every day you’re coaching both athletes.”
On if he’s ever had a player like Toppin…
“I don’t know. You know I’ve had guys that work after games, yeah. But it’s unique, put it that way.”
On Jordan Harris’s role with the team…
“Since I’ve been here, it’s been good. It’s been very, one on one meetings at the beginning and meetings based on my own decisions and instincts and my relationship with him. And asking him to meet standards, not just standards for him as a person but standards for our team as people. It’s the same thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s academics, it doesn’t matter if it’s basketball, it doesn’t matter if it’s anything. Any aspect of life. He’s worked extremely hard, he’s very hungry and very consistent. He’s very able to look at when he’s made a mistake and fix it. He’s really bought into having a role that’s very strong, which I’m very proud of.”
Why the team is still committed as a coach despite the losing season…
“I don’t know. I mean it’s what we do every day. We work every day, we have energy every day, we practice hard every day, they know they’re getting better. That’s the way it is. Coaching is about being demanding and holding people accountable to standards. It’s not about coming in and being negative or sad or uptight. If you’re like that as a coach, you want the same thing from your players. That starts with the coaching staff, but it’s them. They know they’re getting better and they know their improvement. And I think it’s obvious with the way we’ve been playing that we’re right there. It can cause you to get more frustrated or it can cause you to get even more focused which is exactly what we’ve got to continue to do, you know when you hit struggles like we are. That’s part of it. We don’t spend a lot of time talking about making sure you know, ‘is that guy up? Is that guy up?’ It’s an upbeat atmosphere. You’re going to really stand out if you’re not upbeat on this team right now.”
On carving out practice time for end-of-the-game situations…
“Well, we do. The other night we knew what we wanted. We knew we wanted either a two or three, but really with that kind of time we wanted to go inside and play from there. We did not execute it properly at the end. At the end of the game at Ole Miss we knew what we wanted, and we didn’t post as deep to the elbow. But, you have to. The pressure of the moment is hard, so you want to keep putting yourself in those situations of end game. You want to keep getting them comfortable during the game, even though you save some things for the end game. But, what we were trying to run at the end of the game was something we’d run a couple plays earlier and we just didn’t get into it. The timing was good to come down and get the best play so we could do it again and there’s plenty enough time. That gets under 10 seconds, now you’re looking at taking a three unless you can race the ball down the court and get to the rim. But with that kind of time, 20 something odd seconds we knew what we wanted and we just didn’t get it. So, we’ve got to keep reviewing that. We look at it on film, we look at it on the floor and keep at it for what we think is going to work in that next game.”
On facing Florida…
“They’re on a real roll. G Jalen Hudson is averaging 17 points in his last three games, he’s playing well, that’s a key thing for them. He makes them a different team. They shoot the ball extremely well; they use the corners as well as anybody in our league. As far as driving and shooting, especially shooting, they’re aggressive. They set tempo and pace as well as anyone because of their pressure. When they pressure you to try to get time off that clock and they really want to slow you down. Their cutting, I would say Ole Miss and Florida their cutting is really special with the way their guards cut off the high post, the way they’re always moving. You’ve got to really defend that. But, [head coach] Mike [White]’s an outstanding coach. I’ve never a coached a game there, I’ve been there a couple times but I’ve never seen a game there, never coached a game there I’m sure it’s going to be a tremendous atmosphere there tomorrow night.”
Senior Guard Christian Harrison
On how nice it has been to get out on the court and see increased playing time… 
“It has been great to have the opportunity to be able to step up into a bigger role. It has been tough because we have not been winning, but for myself, individually, in terms of that role, playing more has been good for me. From a team standpoint and my biggest priority is for us to win.” 
On how important it is for you to bring your defense and energy to the team…
“I think it is really important. I am not someone who cares that much about scoring. I like playing defense, I pride myself on playing defense and stopping the opposing team’s best player. I think it works well with me out there because the ball is able to move through me, my cutting allows the offense to move smoothly and it takes some of the pressure off the guys offensively if I am out there and able to guard the opposing team’s best scorer.” 
On how good of a team Florida is and what makes them a tough opponent… 
“They are definitely a good team. We will have to do better in transition and stopping them in transition. Winning the rebound battle will be a major key to the game tomorrow.” 
On the rivalry… 
“It is definitely a big game. Going there, I remember last year was a huge rivalry. Their fans and their environment is always big and fun to play in so I am excited and looking forward to it.” 
Senior Guard William “Turtle” Jackson
On how it’s felt to see Georgia’s shots, including his, falling more this season...
"Yeah, I mean, it’s always great to see some shots go in because it builds confidence, and from within that, I can attack and look to get more people involved because the defense is more worried about me and, from that, I feel like we make shots. It’s a great chance to show your point guard skills and leadership [skills]. So, we’re improving. I feel like I’m improving, and we’re just getting better."
On how much improvement he’s seen from his team on offense…
"I mean, this offense is great. Coach Crean’s coaching styles and what he wants from our offense is just unbelievably great because he knows what he’s talking about, and we’re buying in and learning what he wants, which takes time to learn a whole new system. That goes for just any sport that you play. I feel like these improvements will benefit us going into these last games and then the SEC Tournament."
On what he remembers Florida doing well last season/years past…
"Florida’s extremely athletic, and they hit a lot of three’s in transition. So, we’ve got to make sure we’re focused on transition defense and getting stops and making sure we’re executing on offense, which will help our defense."
On how big the Georgia-Florida rivalry is…
"Well, it’s a big game. Georgia versus Florida is a game some kids dream of playing in one day, and I’m just very thankful for this opportunity to play against Florida again and, within that, we’re going to try to go out there and get a win and give our all.” 

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