UGA, Crean Reset the Season for Missouri and the SEC Tournament

March 12, 2019
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Georgia Basketball SEC Tournament Game Notes
Georgia (11-20, 2-16 SEC) vs. Missouri (14-16, 5-13 in SEC)
Wednesday, March 13, at 7:00 p.m. ET
Bridgestone Arena (19,395) in Nashville, Tenn.
Watch: SEC Network (Tom Hart, play-by-play; Jimmy Dykes, analyst; Laura Rutledge, sideline)
Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network Flagship: WSB AM 750 Atlanta (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.
• Nicolas Claxton is one block shy of No. 6 Lavon Mercer on UGA’s single-season leaders and two from No. 10 Chris Daniels on the career list.
• Tyree Crump and Turtle Jackson are No. 15 and No. 16, respectively, on UGA’s career 3-pointers made list, separated by a single 3FG.
• Derek Ogbeide earned his 100th career start at S. Carolina, becoming just 7th Bulldog in the 2000s to reach  that plateau.
• 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 and Missouri will meet for the second time in a eight days – and for the second time in the SEC Tournament in 370 days – when they face off on Wednesday night at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The game will be first of the league’s 2019 postseason event.
 
Last season in St. Louis, the Bulldogs secured a 62-60 victory over the Tigers in the tourney’s second round behind a 21-point, 10-rebound performance from AP SEC Player of the Year Yante Maten.
 
Last Wednesday, the Tigers earned a 64-39 victory over the Bulldogs in Athens.
             
 
Series History With Mizzou
Georgia owns a 7-6 lead in its all-time series with Missouri, including last season’s first-ever meeting in SEC Tournament action. 
 
After the Tigers won the first four meetings, the Bulldogs captured the next six.
 
 
Georgia’s SEC Tourney History
Georgia sports a 47-56 all-time record in 58 editions of the SEC Tournament. 
 
The Bulldogs are 38-37 in SEC Tourney action since the event resumed in 1979 following a 27-year hiatus from 1953-79.
 
The Bulldogs won the 1983 and 2008 SEC Tournaments and finished as runners-up in 1940, 1981, 1988 and 1997. Georgia has reached the semifinals 15 times. 
 
 
Claxton Earns All-SEC Honors 
Nicolas Claxton was tabbed second-team All-SEC in balloting of league coaches announced on Tuesday.
 
Claxton, a 6-11, sophomore forward, from Greenville, S.C., leads the Bulldogs in scoring, rebounding, blocks and steals. He also is second in assists.
 
Claxton ranks second in the SEC in both rebounds and blocks, as well as first in defensive rebounds and 15th in playing time. Nationally, he entered this week ranked No. 10 in blocks and No. 54 in rebounding.
 
 
Like All-SEC Father...Like All-SEC Son 
Nicolas Claxton’s dad, Charles, was an All-SEC center for Georgia in 1993.
 
The Claxtons are just the second father-son All-SEC tandem for the same school in league history. Vanderbilt’s Frank and Luke Kornet were All-SEC in 1989 and 2017, respectively. Arkansas also sports a father-son all-conference duo – Ron Brewer was All-SWC in 1978 and Ronnie Brewer was All-SEC in 2005.
 
 
Hammonds Has Surgery 
Rayshaun Hammonds underwent surgery on March 7 to address a fracture in his right foot. The procedure took place at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center.
 
Hammonds 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.
 
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, but his abbreviated outing at Florida dropped those to 12.1 ppg and 6.1 rpg. 
 
 
Dogs Solid In Challenging Stretch
Georgia completed a late-season five-game stretch against projected 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 lost to LSU (by four points), Mississippi State (by one), Ole Miss (by one) and Auburn (by three). The last three contests were decided by last-second shots. 
 
The March 11 edition of ESPN’s Bracketology included LSU as a No. 2 seed, Auburn as a No. 5, Mississippi State as a No. 6, Ole Miss as a No. 9 and Florida as an No. 11.
 
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 surged.
 
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 fought back 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 on March 2 at Exactech Arena. Georgia outscored Florida 10-5 over the final 2:54 to secure the victory.
 

Series History With Mizzou
The Bulldogs are 7-6 all-time against Missouri, including a win in the first-ever SEC Tourney meeting last season.
 
Yante Maten scored 21 points and grabbed 10 boards to lead Georgia in a 62-60 win over the Tigers in the SEC Tourney’s second round.
 
That contest featured a series of runs.
 
Missouri opened the day by scoring the game’s first 10 points, before Georgia responded with a 19-2 surge to gain control.
 
The Bulldogs led 33-24 at the half and extended that margin to a dozen points on a Turtle Jackson 3-pointer to open the second stanza scoring...before the Tigers rallied to knot the score at 39-39 with 14:11 remaining.
 
A Jackson layup followed by consecutive 3-pointers from Tyree Crump and Nicolas Claxton quickly put Georgia back up by eight just 1:48 later.
 
Missouri chipped away and pulled within 59-57 on a pair of free throws with 3:57 remaining and then closed the gap to 61-60 with 60 seconds left.
 
Georgia forced three misses the rest of the way and grabbed a pair of key rebounds to secure the victory.
 
Just last Wednesday in Athens, Georgia dropped a 64-39 decision to Missouri on the Bulldogs’ Senior Night.
 
After a tight first 10 minutes, the Tigers used a 15-4 run to build an 11-point lead at the intermission. Missouri maintained that margin for the second stanza.
 
 
Last Time Out...
Despite double-double outings from Nicolas Claxton and Derek Ogbeide Georgia fell 66-46 to South Carolina in the Bulldogs’ regular-season finale last Saturday.
 
Claxton finished with 13 points and 10 boards, while Ogbeide posted 11 points and 11 rebounds.
 
Georgia led 13-12 just under six minutes into the game before the Gamecocks exploded on a 17-2 surge. The Bulldogs trimmed a 23-point deficit to 10 three times in the second half but could get no closer.

 

Georgia Basketball Pregame Quotes
Georgia vs. Missouri SEC Tournament
Quotes from Tuesday, March 12, 2019
 
Head Coach Tom Crean
 
On if a tournament is a reset button or a restart for a team…
“Yeah, I think that is how it works. I think that is pretty much how it is mentally and then the whole key is you just have to keep your improvement message strong. And in this case, since we just played Missouri, there are definitely things we can improve upon from that game. So you can hit those points, work on those things and at the same time, you keep them energized on where we can get better. The most important thing for us right now - outside of getting better defensively and in our rebounding - is to not lose our confidence taking shots. We have had a couple of games where shots we make and shots we have made are not going in. We just can’t lose the confidence to take those shots. But at the same time you have to keep looking for what the defense is giving you and that is what we are trying to show based on film work, based on practice and those types of things.” 
 
On if the shooting issue the last couple of games has to do with the type of shots they are taking… 
“No, I don’t think so. There is always going to be some risk/reward at the rim, when you drive to the rim. We are missing open shots. I say a lot, it is not taking a bad shot, it is taking a good shot, badly. You know sometimes you fade, sometimes you don’t get your foot into it. All the technical parts of the shot are very easy to point out. It is easier to point it out but harder to remember when you are shooting it. We have missed some open shots and we can probably do a little bit less off the dribble. I think that would help us a lot and in answer to your question, we need to be ready to shoot the ball rather than putting it down on the ground a couple of times. But to me, you just don’t want to lose the confidence in taking the shots.” 
 
On if you notice the team having more of an edge heading into the tournament as Jordan Harris mentioned that earlier… 
“I hope so. I think we have good edge. I thought we had it yesterday, but I thought we had it going into South Carolina too. We have had really good practices the past few weeks so if that is what he thinks, then that is a good thing.” 
 
On if the fact that the game is against Missouri, the team you had one of the worst games against, helps in the preparation in some way… 
“Well, there should be no trouble getting anyone’s attention, but I don’t sense that. But anyway, they guarded us differently, right and there were just guys they did not guard in the game. Our job now is to make that many more adjustments without overthinking it, but make the adjustments we have to make because obviously that worked well for them. They took chances on guys not being able to make plays, and they were right. We have to do a much better job of dealing with that and how we move. We have to make adjustments and I am sure they will too.” 
 
On memories from conference tournaments throughout your career…
“Yeah, I am sure but nothing that really stands out right now.” 
 
On if in a tournament setting you think your team will embrace the underdog mentality a little bit more…
“I hope so, yeah. I mean I just hope we go in there and play well.” 
 
On what has Tye Fagan gained this year… 
“I think he is learning what the college game is all about and the speed of it. It is a whole different level of speed when you get to college and he needs to play faster. He needs to play even more aggressive and faster. Whether it is cutting, it is getting to the glass, when he has done those things he has been pretty successful but everybody goes through that. Everybody goes through the speed of the game. There is the physicality of it and there is the pace of it. Pace and speed are two different things because pace of the game is one thing, and that is conditioning to a degree but the speed of the game is how fast you have to play. It is your reaction time, your short-space quickness, your burst, those types of things. Those are things I hope he has gained and that will help him in the future. He has really improved his skill level and he really wants to do well. I think it is just a matter of understanding, okay, this is different and this is how I have to embrace it to make myself better. I think all freshmen go through that, but him in particular, once that speed of the games comes, he will learn how to play quicker, faster, more burst at this level. He will realize all those things that he was doing before that he was having a lot of success with is not as easy here. I think off-season training is really going to help him with that, too. I say that knowing that we have to have him play well for us this weekend and week going into this tournament.” 
 
On the seniors’ legacy going into the tournament…
“Hopefully they go out, because I haven’t thought in those terms yet, and they can look back at it and there is absolutely zero regret. When they’re done and zero regret 10 years from now. That’s the biggest thing. Did you leave everything that you had out there. There’s been many days when that’s how they’ve played and they’ve worked hard to do that, there’s been days where they haven’t but there’s been a lot of days where they’ve tried to do that. Hopefully when you realize that the end is near, there’s an extra jolt that can either drive you forward or it can paralyze you. It can stifle you and you don’t want that to happen. You want to be on a full tilt doing what the team needs and doing what needs to be done to be successful. That little bit of edge that he’s talking about, it comes from everybody but your seniors are going to drive that edge for you more than anybody else.
 
On the next 36 hours…
“We will have practice, hopefully sharp and concise, here. Then we’ll get there and get on the court and walk through tomorrow morning. I believe it's at Vanderbilt in the early afternoon then play the game. We have meetings, film, and stuff like that sprinkled in.
 
On coaching in Nashville…
“I said this last night on the radio show I don’t think i’ve ever coached in Nashville. I’ve been to Nashville and lived near it when I was in Bowling Green, Kentucky, but I may look back on it but I was thinking about it I don’t think I’ve ever coached there in the city so it will be different.”
 
On country music…
“I like a lot of music. I like country music absolutely."
 
Junior Guard Jordan Harris
On past experience in the SEC Tournament…
“The SEC Tournament is different. It is a different feeling, knowing everybody is there, everybody is really watching. Everything is in front of you - everybody is giving everything they got. So, definitely a level that the game is played out there, at the tournament is definitely something that I look forward to and our team looks forward to.” 
 
On how they plan to play in tournament with clean slate… 
“Yeah, that’s what is exciting for us. You know, pretty much like a new season for some teams. We are definitely trying to go in and get a rhythm going and try to get as many wins as we can get on a roll and hopefully keep playing.” 
 
On Coach Crean’s message to the team… 
“He just told us, he doesn’t want to stop coaching us - he doesn’t want to stop coaching us and doesn’t want it to end. He has been pushing us and trying to find ways to win our next game. That is all he has been focusing on, our next game. He has put all this energy into giving us confidence, giving us confidence going into this game. I think the biggest thing he has told us is he doesn’t want to stop coaching us right now, and that has been very helpful for us and something for us to look forward to. 
 
Freshman Guard Tye Fagan
On what he’s heard from his older teammates as a freshman going into the tournament…
"I’m excited, for one. Being a freshman, this is my first experience. It’s been a good freshman year. There’ve been ups and downs, of course, but it’s been fun and a learning process. [My teammates] have just been telling me, “It’s really exciting to play in the gym. A  lot of teams are going to be there, a very packed gym, just intense. It’s fun.” So, I’m just excited."
 
On playing tournament with a ‘clean slate’ mentality…
"We’re focused. Like, that’s automatic. We’re looking at it one game at a time. We’re not looking at it like, ‘We’ve got to win this game, that game.’ We’re looking at it just one game at a time. It’s a process, but we’re focused and locked into to each game going into each game. We’re just trying to get a win.”
 
On what Coach Crean’s message has been leading up to the tournament…
“He’s just been coaching with confidence, because he truly believes we can win every game. We believe we can win every game, but like I said, we’re focused on taking it one game at a time, and that’s the plan.”

 
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