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Georgia Basketball

Missouri holds on to knock Georgia out of the SEC Tournament

March 11, 2021

Nashville-- Is there a better way to end an inconsistent basketball season for Georgia than drama at the end of their final game?

In what was an exciting and close contest, Missouri (16-8) ended Georgia’s season in Bridgestone Arena on Thursday night of the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament by a final score of 73-70. Georgia’s season ended in a heartbreaking fashion, but there was one play in the first half that pointed the energy in Missouri’s direction. 

Georgia (14-12) turned the ball over on their last possession of the first half, which led to Missouri’s Xavier Pinson to drain a three as the first half buzzer sounded. That shot cut Georgia’s lead to just one point at the half, after they spent the better part of the preceding few minutes gaining momentum and control of the game. From that point on, Missouri outplayed Georgia. 

The Tigers maintained momentum for almost the entirety of the second half up until the last couple of minutes. Missouri led by as much as 12 points, but, like Georgia has experienced a handful of times this season, there were theatrics at the end. 

Missouri held a steady double-digit lead for the greater part of the last 10 minutes, but the Bulldogs came crawling back. Georgia was able to make it a one-point game with 3:09 remaining in the contest. At that moment, the Bulldogs breathed their first bit of life for what was a long stretch of lackluster play. 

There was a controversial foul on Justin Kier with 1:56 left in the game, and Pinson went to the line and sank all three of his free-throw attempts, making it a four-point game. Soon after, Toumani Camara had an opportunity to tie the game at the free-throw line, but Kier committed a lane violation. That violation took away one of Camara’s foul shots, and he went on to miss his only attempt. 

Kier came back and redeemed himself by drilling a three to cut the deficit back to one point with 8.2 seconds left in the game. At this point, it was a game of fouls, but PJ Horne had an opportunity to tie the game with a three on the final possession. Horne’s shot was off, and the Bulldogs’ season came to a temporary close at that moment. 

Sahvir Wheeler, Georgia’s best player this season, led the Bulldogs with 14 points and an impressive 13 assists, which tied his career-high mark. Wheeler was crafty at working to get in the paint, but a lot of shots just weren’t falling. The paint battle was tight with Missouri winning that fight 38-34. 

Georgia’s season is over unless they get invited to the NIT. That is yet to be seen, but with their overall body of work, the Bulldogs will not be invited to the NCAA tournament. Coach Tom Crean has yet to take his squad to the tournament in his three years in Athens. 

“I didn’t say goodbye to my team in the locker room, and I’m certainly not going to reflect on the season just yet because my mind is not in either one of those places,” Crean said. 

Crean made it clear that he wants to play in the NIT if the Bulldogs are to receive an invite. It is not out of the question, but that is another uncertainty here as the season comes to a close. 

Georgia did not win a game in this year’s SEC tournament, but there are positives to take away from the season. Crean has a solid core of Wheeler, Camara and KD Johnson to build upon over the next couple of years. Johnson showed signs of high offensive talent off the bench, and Wheeler and Camara led the team all season. 

Georgia also finished the season higher in the conference standings than they were projected to end up at. The analysts put them at 13th in the preseason, but the Bulldogs were able to finish with a winning record on the season and completed the year ranked 10th overall in the conference. Seven conference wins is also the most under Crean thus far.

“Next year we’re looking to be in the top 6 or top 5 range (in the SEC). I know to some people that might sound crazy,” Wheeler said. 

That notion may be crazy, but Crean’s squads have improved each year that he has been the leader of the program. For now, the Bulldogs have to wait and see if they will play another game this season. 


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