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UGA Travels to Columbia for Final Game of Season

March 8, 2019

Georgia Basketball Game Notes
Georgia (11-19, 2-15 SEC) vs. South Carolina (15-15, 10-7 in SEC)
Saturday, March 9, at 1:0 p.m. ET
Colonial Life Arena (18,000) in Columbia, S.C.
Watch: SEC Network (Dave Neal, play-by-play; Daymeon Fishback, analyst)
Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network Flagship: WSB AM 750 Atlanta; XM: 384; Internet: 975. (Scott Howard, play-by-play; Chuck Dowdle, analyst; Tony Schiavone, producer)

The Starting 5…
• UGA broke its all-time total attendance record for home games this season by drawing 148,700 fans for the Bulldogs’ 17  home outings.
• Derek Ogbeide is one start shy of 100 for his career. He would become just the 7th Bulldog in the 2000s to reach  that plateau.
• Turtle Jackson and Tyree Crump are No. 15 and No. 16, respectively, on UGA’s career 3-pointers made list, separated by a single 3FGs.
• Of the Bulldogs’ six seniors, three are slated to graduate in May and three are scheduled to earn diplomas after the summer semester.
• 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 wraps up its 2018-19 regular-season slate on Saturday afternoon with a matchup against South Carolina at Colonial Life Arena.

Five weeks ago in Athens, the Gamecocks defeated the Bulldogs, 86-80. South Carolina built an early lead and withstood a rally that pulled Georgia within three points with 66 seconds remaining. 

Series History With The Gamecocks
Georgia sports a 58-55 lead in the all-time series with South Carolina; however, the Gamecocks own a 34-19 edge in Columbia.

Up Next: SEC Tourney In Nashville
Georgia will be the No. 13 seed in next week’s SEC Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The Bulldogs will play in the tourney’s first game on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m., facing either Missouri or Texas A&M based on results of Saturday’s games.

Hammonds Has Surgery 
Rayshaun Hammonds underwent surgery on Thursday to address a fracture in his right foot. The procedure took place at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center.

Hammonds, Georgia’s second-leading scorer and rebounder, injured his foot during the Ole Miss game on Feb. 23 but didn’t experience any significant discomfort until two days later. He missed Auburn game on Feb. 27 but returned to play five minutes at Florida last Saturday.

Hammonds’ DNP versus Auburn snapped a streak of 31 straight starts dating back to last season’s regular-season finale at Tennessee. He was averaging 12.6 ppg and 6.3 rpg, with a team-high 20 double-digit scoring performances, following the Ole Miss game. His abbreviated outing at Florida dropped those to 12.1 ppg and 6.1 rpg. 

Bulldogs Set Attendance Mark...
Georgia shattered its total attendance record at Stegeman Coliseum this season, surpassing the old mark by 9,130 fans.

Georgia drew 148,700 for its 17 home dates at Stegeman Coliseum, easily outdistancing the previous record as outlined below.
UGA Basketball Total Attendance
Season Games
2018-19 17
2015-16 19
2003-04 16
2006-07 18
2010-11 16

...and Have Fourth-Best Average
The Bulldogs averaged 8,747 fans during the 2018-19 campaign, which ranks as the fourth-highest tally in school history as outlined below.

Of Georgia’s 17 home dates, seven were sellouts. That included a stretch of six-straight from Jan. 15-Feb. 16.
UGA Average Attendance
Season Games
2002-03 13
2001-02 13
1990-91 12
2018-19 16
1981-82 14

Dogs Solid In Challenging Stretch
Georgia completed a recent five-game stretch against potential NCAA Tournament teams – LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Auburn and Florida – with a 1-4 record...but with a scoring margin of just -3.

After losing the first four games by a combined nine points, the Bulldogs defeated Florida, 61-55, in Gainesville behind a career-high 25 points from Nicolas Claxton.

Prior to that, Georgia suffered last-minute losses in succession to LSU (four points), Mississippi State (one point), Ole Miss (one point) and Auburn (three points). The outcomes the last three of those contests weren’t decided until last-second shot attempts. 

The March 8 edition of ESPN’s Bracketology included LSU as a No. 3 seed, Mississippi State as a No. 6, Auburn as a No. 6, Ole Miss as a No. 10 and Florida as an No. 11.

Georgia Wraps Up Regular Season Road Matchup against Gamecocks
Georgia will conclude its 2018-19 regular-season slate on Saturday with a matinée versus South Carolina at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia.

The Bulldogs are 11-19 overall and 2-15 in SEC play. 

Prior to a Wednesday setback to Missouri, the Bulldogs had played significantly better lately than their record would indicate...and did so against a quintet of likely NCAA Tournament participants. 

That stretch began when 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.

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, but 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 on Feb. 23. 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 Feb. 27, Georgia erased a 14-point, first-half Auburn lead. The second half featured two ties and eight lead changes before the Tigers pulled out the victory on an NBA range 3-pointer as the shot clock expired on their final possession of the night.

The Bulldogs finally broke through to defeat the Gators last Saturday at Exactech Arena. Georgia outscored Florida 10-5 over the final 2:54 to secure the victory.

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 baskets to be). 

Georgia will be without Rayshaun Hammonds, the Bulldogs’ second-leading scorer and rebounder. He suffered a foot injury in the Ole Miss game on Feb. 23 that required surgery on Thursday (March 7).

South Carolina is 15-15 overall but sports 10-7 mark in league action.

Chris Silva paces the Gamecocks with averages of 14.5 points and 7.4 rebounds. 

Like Georgia, South Carolin’s second-leading scorer – A.J. Lawson and his 13.9 ppg scoring average – has been out of action of late due to injury. Hassani Gravett provides another double-digit scoring average for the Gamecocks at 11.6 ppg.

Series History With s. Carolina
Georgia sports a 58-55 lead in the all-time series with South Carolina; however, the Gamecocks own a 34-19 edge in Columbia.

Last month in Athens, Georgia dropped an 86-80 decision to South Carolina at a sold-out Stegeman Coliseum despite five Bulldogs scoring in double figures.

Derek Ogbeide scored 16 points to pace the Bulldogs, whose balanced attacked also received 14 points from Tyree Crump, 11 apiece from Rayshaun Hammonds and Jordan Harris and 10 from Turtle Jackson.

South Carolina raced to an early 22-8 lead just past the midway point of the first half, but the Bulldogs pulled within 45-40 by halftime.

Georgia opened the second-half scoring with a 3-pointer from Jackson, but the Gamecocks answered and eventually regained a 69-56 advantage with 9:42 remaining.

After trailing 80-70, the Bulldogs embarked on a 10-3 surge to pull within three with 66 seconds left. South Carolina rebounded its own miss with 40 ticks on the clock and made a pair of free throws to make is 85-80.

Georgia missed a trio of 3-pointers on its next possession, and the Gamecocks closed out the scoring with another free throw.

In the most recent contest in Columbia, South Carolina defeated Georgia, 66-57, last season on Feb. 21.

The Gamecocks outscored the Bulldogs 13-3 over the final 3:00 of the first half to gain a 42-27 edge and then withstood several rally attempts following the intermission. 

The Bulldogs opened the second period with a 15-6 surge to close the gap to five with 12:46 remaining, but South Carolina answered with a 5-0 run and never let UGA closer than six thereafter.

Turtle Jackson’s 14 points paced Georgia on the offensive end, while Yante Maten added a double-double of 13 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

Last Time Out...
Georgia dropped a 64-39 decision to Missouri on Wednesday night in Athens on the Bulldogs’ Senior Night.

After a tight first 10 minutes, the Tigers used a 15-5 run to build an 11-point lead at the intermission. Missouri maintained that margin for the second stanza.

Georgia Basketball Pregame Quotes
Georgia vs. South Carolina
Quotes from Friday, March 8, 2019
Head Coach Tom Crean
On how the team will move forward after the loss…
“Quickly. Quickly. Not a long practice yesterday, but quickly. We just went in there and attacked a couple of things that we needed to get prepared for the next game. We’ll come back and have what I hope is going to be a good one today. They were ready to go yesterday. They knew, nobody felt worse than them after the game I don’t think there’s any question about that. What happened inside of that game is we let our lack of scoring, which we have not been doing, we let our lack of scoring, our lack of finishing, our lack of making threes, our lack of making layups affect our confidence in a snowball force. That was still such few points. It was just one of those struggle games. G [Jordan] Geist was the difference in a lot of ways in that game, we never matched his energy and he got their team to a confident place inside of that game and all of a sudden it snowballed us. We have to be better than that and we have been. We have not been letting lulls and things of that nature affect us like it did. But, it did and we’ve got to move on and get ready for a really, really tough, physical, aggressive, well-coached, hard playing basketball team today on their senior day. So, we don’t have much time to think about it.”
On how long Rayshaun Hammonds will be away from basketball…
“It’ll be months. In basketball terms, I don’t have an answer for that. But he’s going to be out for a while. He had to have surgery yesterday we just saw him. I don’t the plan on that yet as far as when we’ll be able to put him back into that. It’s going to be at least a three, four-month process. I’m sounding like a doctor right now I don’t totally know. We probably won’t know for a couple weeks but he had a good surgery.”
On if this is the most “high-low” back-to-back games he’s had…
“In my career? Probably, I can’t think of one. It was tough but you have to move on. You have got to move on from it, you can’t ignore it. Especially because it’s out of character the way we’ve been playing. You expect better, well you know what the bottom line is we’ve got to be better. We’ve got to come out and be better. And we’ve got to figure out how to do that.”
On if he’s watching film tonight…
“Well of course we’re watching film tonight. We’ve got to move onto the next game. We don’t have an unlimited amount of time right now. Bottom line is in a league like this you’ve got to turn around and play, and you’ve got to play quickly. If any of them ever want to play professionally afterward you’ve really got to move on. You’ve got to be able to move on from the win or the loss. Learn from it, and then get ready for the next one. Bottom line for us that’s the most important thing. We don’t want to lose to South Carolina because we couldn’t get over losing to Missouri. We’ve got to go get ready to play South Carolina to the best of our ability. Which is easier said than done. Their zone is high level right now. They’ve been going to more zone in his defense because he’s got a few less players, injury wise. It remains to be seen if Lawson will be back or not but his zone has been very good so we’ve got to get ready for something like that.”
On how the absence of Hammonds affects the attention on Nicolas Claxton…
“A lot. I don’t think there’s any question it affects it a lot but I think what it does it affects the spacing. When you’ve got a bonafide 3-point shooter, cutter, ball mover obviously one of our leading scorers, when he’s not out there obviously he’s a guy that you have to guard past the three-point line and now you have other people in that you don’t have to guard like that, they did a really good job of not guarding people. We picked a bad night to not cut as well, to not make some threes, but really to not get on the offensive glass. We graded out very poorly on the offensive glass as a whole. Some guys graded out very well, some guys didn’t grade very well at all on either side of the glass and we picked a very bad night for that. When you don’t have the shooting or you don’t have the guys they have to guard, the creativity comes in to a degree, but more importantly your cutting, your movement, your screening, your getting on the offensive glass and getting out in transition, those things become even bigger and more paramount. We didn't do a very good job of those things the other night."
On Teshaun Hightower not playing as much...
"He's just not playing as well as we'd like, and just some other guys are playing a little bit better. That's the biggest thing ... [conversation with reporter] ... No, he practices hard. Our guys practice hard. It's not that at all [conversation with reporter] ... His practices have been good, he's playing good, but the other guys are playing better right now."
On the forwards next year...
"We've just got to develop and we've got to recruit. That would be obvious, right? We've got to recruit, too, because we're going to lose some big guys. We've got to develop the guys that we have, have to keep making sure the guys we've already signed can contribute and then that becomes a part of recruiting. We'll worry about that later."
On looking for bigs in recruiting...
"We're looking everywhere, absolutely. Big is important, but skilled is important. You want skilled, mobile, versatile (big men). We want to be able to switch and do a lot of things.  We'd certainly like the scoring. I like shooting, right? We want to have guys who can shoot the ball as well. Those all become parts of it as we go down the line."
On reassessing the use of Christian Harrison offensively...
"He's a valuable guy. We've got to be able to figure it out. It hurts a little bit more when [Rayshaun Hammonds] isn't in there in that situation, but that's part of studying the film and bringing the energy to try to figure it out and try to be creative. But nothing works if you're not cutting hard enough and getting to the offensive glass. They (opponents) might not be guarding him as much, but that's not affecting how hard he's playing, right? He wasn't the problem the other night. He's moving, he's trying to get to the glass and he's trying to do the right things. That becomes important there."
On E'Torrion Wilridge absorbing Rayshaun Hammonds' minutes...
"I think it mixes. This becomes position-less basketball a little bit. I think when you've got a guy that's bringing as much as Rayshaun has and is being the threat that he is and is the contributor that he is, it's never going to be one person (absorbing the role) and it's probably not going to be two. So, we went with JoJo [Toppin] the other night. We needed a change-up and we needed some energy. We needed to try something different and he did a pretty good job with that. Could that have been considered part of some of his minutes? Probably. I don't look at it like that as much, it's more based on feel: how we're playing, how the other team is playing, what the other team is doing and what we need at that given point in time. I'd love to turn and say, 'Hey, we need to put two more shooters in the game right now,' but we don't necessarily have that luxury. We kind of mix-and-match it and get a feel for the game. It's not as much as about... he (Wilridge) is definitely playing more, but he's got to do more for us. He's got to rebound the ball better and he's got to be more of a threat in different areas. He's got to be more aggressive for us right now. I say that knowing that we're coming off a tough game, but I say that also as E'Torrion's got to bring more to us in that area and finish off his senior year in a real strong way. That's what we're hoping for from him. Whatever minutes he gets like that are important."
On Riley Crean going to Gainesville...
"I don't have a lot of outside hobbies at all. My family and what their hobbies are, what their interests are have been big. I'm just getting used to the fact that he's redshirting right now. I've been too busy to go over there, but we used to go watch him and play in the free time. But for him to go on that trip (to Gainesville) was nice, but he's also loving what he's doing baseball-wise."

Sophomore Forward Nicolas Claxton
On challenging season and leading into last regular season game… 
“Yeah, it's been an extremely rough season. I would say up and down but its really been a down season. We have a couple of wins under our belt. We have to go to Columbia and fight and give it all we have, and we know it’s their senior night so they’ll be ready to play and they’re going to give us a good fight. We just have to go in there and just try to shock the world.” 
On being picked 13th in pre-season media days and how hard it has been to digest the reality of it… 
“Yeah, definitely. We thought that we were being underrated at the time, that 13th pick. We started the season out decent, you know. We had some good wins, but just staying true to that, it really hurts, but we can’t really dwell on that. All we can do is go in and try to win the next game.” 
On how they felt after poor performance against Missouri after win at Florida… 
“Yeah, it hurt a lot. Just to go to Florida on the road and get that win and to come out and to play against Missouri and play extremely poorly. I know that the shots weren’t falling, but defensively we gave up some open shots. We did a very poor job of rebounding, so you know we are going to put that loss behind us and go to South Carolina and try to get a win.” 
On watching film of Missouri at this point in the season… 
“No— you just try to put that in the past and get ready for the next game. We have just been watching film on South Carolina and seeing ways we can exploit them.” 
On thoughts after watching Missouri film… 
“It was big—big was just the rebounding and a lot of times with rebounding it is just the effort thing, making sure you are boxing out. I think the guards—the guards, they out-rebounded it and they had a lot of rebounds. It was the big-men too. Me, Derek, we need to step up, and our minds just need to step up.” 
On the excitement of a top-15 recruiting class coming in and returning players…
“Yeah, definitely! I know those guys are coming in, and they’ll be ready to work and ready to help us turn things around. That is big—that’s big, definitely. We are trying to focus on this year and finish this season strong.” 
On potentially playing Missouri in SEC Tournament and revisiting Wednesday’s game… 
“Yeah, but at the end of the day it is what it is. We did it, so you have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror as a man and come out and fight and not let the same thing happen again.” 
On what caused such a bad performance against Missouri… 
“Probably just having the 14 points at the half, and not having that fight to come back. It was pretty much just lopsided the entire time and we didn’t really give much of a fight to come back.” 
On problems to Mitchell Smith presented… 
“Honestly, it wasn’t him, is was they help they had. Every time I went to the paint, every time I went and tried to post up it was another guy sitting in the paint. So, I give credit to their team. I’m definitely I’m not downplaying anybody’s performance, though.” 
On changes throughout the season by opponent’s defenses… 
“Yeah and especially with Rayshaun [Hammonds] going down. Teams are starting to key in on me, and I just have to try to find ways to be assertive and, you know, get my teammates involved in any way that I can.” 

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