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Georgia Basketball

K.D. Johnson shines in debut, but Georgia continues losing streak

January 13, 2021

ATHENS- Georgia cannot seem to get the ball rolling against SEC opponents, dropping their fourth straight game, with two in a row coming in blowout fashion. 

The Georgia Bulldogs (7-4, 0-4) could not keep up with the Auburn Tigers (7-6, 1-4), falling 95-77 in Stegeman Coliseum on Wednesday night. Georgia has not claimed victory since their game against Northeaster on Dec. 22 before the conference schedule started rolling. 

The miscues continue for the Bulldogs, and against Auburn, the story of the night was their inability to put the ball in the basket. Georgia had a forgettable shooting night to say the least. The Bulldogs finished shooting 41.8% from the field, 40.0% from deep and 50.0% from the free-throw line. 

Georgia failed to make a single field goal during a stretch in the second half that lasted more than seven and a half minutes. That period of play is where Auburn took total control of the game, and despite a late push from the Bulldogs, the Tigers never looked back. 

Defensively, Georgia let Auburn score at will in the second half. Auburn’s transition offense was hardly defended by the Bulldogs tonight. They were able to make fast break layups and dunks with ease, and Georgia’s effort yet again seemed to diminish in the second half. 

“What I haven’t liked the last couple of games is that we lose a little bit of belief we can win the game,” Georgia head coach Tom Crean said. 

Silver linings can be taken even from ugly performances. The silver lining for Georgia was that freshman 4-star guard K.D. Johnson made his debut for the Bulldogs. Johnson was deemed eligible to play on Monday after missing the first 10 games of the campaign due to a certification eligibility issue. 

Johnson was the leading scorer for Georgia, racking up 21 points. He added seven rebounds and four assists to his totals, which makes his debut a rather impressive one. 

The freshman looked like the best player for Georgia in his first game with the team. He fought hard on defense, was relentless in getting to the rim and made his open threes. 

Johnson’s performance did not just catch the eyes of viewers and fans, but his teammates as well. 

“He (Johnson) played with juice. He played with life. He played with passion, and that’s something we’re definitely gonna need,” Georgia sophomore Sahvir Wheeler said. 

Unfortunately, Auburn’s stud freshman was the player of the night. Sharife Cooper dropped 28 points and 12 assists, paving the way for a strong Auburn victory. Johnson hounded Cooper on a few plays, but overall, Cooper was the best player on the floor. 

Wheeler was right behind Johnson with 19 points of his own, but this marked another contest where he did not look to be as good offensively as he was to start the season. He went scoreless in the first 11 minutes of the game, and some of his struggles could be pointed to the increased level of competition. 

Naming Johnson a starter going forward seems to be a likely outcome from this game. Monitoring his role going forward alongside Wheeler and Justin Kier will be interesting over the next couple of games. Against Auburn, Johnson split time with both of the usual starters, but also played in relief of them at different points in the game. 

Coach Crean mentioned going back to the film to figure out how to experiment with different lineups in future games, and Johnson adds a positive wrinkle into that decision-making. 

Georgia is back on the road for one game as they remain in search of their first SEC win. They will travel to Oxford, MS to face an Ole Miss team that has dropped two straight games. This looks to be a winnable matchup for a Georgia team that is in desperate need of a victory.


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