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Georgia falls to No. 8 Auburn, 78-61

UGA Basketball: Auburn 2018
Photo: Nicole Adamson/UGA

Athens, Ga — The Georgia Bulldogs men’s basketball team lost to the No. 8 Auburn Tigers 78-61 on Saturday afternoon in a sold-out Stegeman Coliseum.

Senior forward Yante Maten had his 23rd double-digit scoring game of the season with a team-high 20 points. Red-shirt senior guard Juwan Parker had his 11th double-digit game of the season with 14. Freshman forward Rayshaun Hammonds also had his ninth double-digit game of the season with 14.

“The first thing we have to do is reestablish our defense,” said head coach Mark Fox. “You have no chance if you don’t get stops and our defense has not been good enough. We got into foul trouble early and had to play zone, but you still have to get stops and play defense.”

The Tigers (22-3, 10-2) had the first points of the match scoring two, but Maten tipped the ball in to tie the game 2-2. A DeSean Murray three gave Auburn back the advantage. Parker hit a three reducing the gap to two points and a Hammonds’ rebound brought the ball back to Georgia (13-11, 4-8) territory. Maten tipped the ball in for the tie 7-7. Auburn continued to push ahead taking the lead 9-7. On defense, Maten rebounded passing the ball off to Hammonds for a tie at 15:45. The Tigers took back the advantage causing the Bulldogs to fight back from a 10 point deficit. A layup by Hammonds launched Georgia on a six point run and a three by sophomore guard Tyree Crump brought the Bulldogs within three points of the Tigers 31-28. Another three by Crump brought the margin to two. A strong offense contributed to Auburn leading 40-31 at the half.

Coming back to action, Hammonds tipped the ball and drained a three bringing the score to 43-36. Georgia started a six-point run and held Auburn scoreless for four minutes. Junior guard William Turtle Jackson II and Malik Dunbar accumulated technical fouls but subsequent foul trouble brought Georgia to the line. A pair of Maten free throws coupled with a Hammonds’ tip-in brought the gap to seven, 50-43. Auburn continued to press hard, bringing a 13 point advantage over the Bulldogs, 59-46. A three by Jackson brought it back down to a 10 point, 61-51, game. The Tigers maintained a strong position staying ahead by 10 or more points for the last nine minutes of the game. Maten tipped the ball with less than a minute left but it wasn’t enough to outscore the Tigers. An Auburn dunk solidified the Tiger win 78-61 over the Bulldogs.

Georgia shot 76.9 percent from the line due to Auburn foul trouble. The Bulldogs’ 44.9 shooting percentage is the highest for a loss this season and is the seventh highest mark in the season. The Tigers shot 50.9 percent for the game and each team had over 45 percent at the first half. Freshman forward Nicolas Claxton had his first start in Stegeman and tied his career steals with one. Parker tied his season-high of assists with three.

The Bulldogs return to the court against Florida on Wednesday, February 14, at 9 p.m. in Gainesville.

Head Coach Mark Fox

Thoughts on the loss…
“I was not pleased with how we played defensively, obviously another game where the opponent shoots above 50% and we give up a lot of 3’s and get out rebounded. Our defense has literally gone missing and if you don’t play defense you don’t have a chance to win.”

On guard play…
“It starts with us trying to find stability at defensive end, and I didn’t think our play in backcourt was good on the offensive end. I don’t think that we have guys playing well in the backcourt. We’re not making plays for others and were not shooting it well. Turtle didn’t get to the foul line. We haven’t blown by a guy and gotten to the foul line and you have to be able to do that. We didn’t turn it over a ton but when we did it cost us a ton.

Red-Senior Guard Juwan Parker

On Georgia’s defensive performance…
“Our defense didn’t show up, give credit to them (Auburn). They embarrassed us under the glass and they did everything that we didn’t.”

On how to not be frustrated with games like these…
“Well, you stick together with your team, that’s one thing. We always say throughout the year how much chemistry we have and we like each other on the court and off the court. So you stick together and you realize basketball is fun. Of course, winning is a lot more fun. You just try to get back to work and keep positive. There’s no reason to get pessimistic about anything in life, especially not in games.”

Freshman Forward Rayshaun Hammonds

On his contributions to the team in his first year…
“It’s a learning process for me. As a freshman, every game I learn new things and get better with every game.”

On how he felt seeing more made shots against Auburn…
“It felt good. But my main focus was just getting that win.”

On the performance of the defense…
“We didn’t show up at all. My problem is it shouldn’t be the late half of the second half and we kind of fell apart at the end. But we’ll pick it back up.”

Senior Forward Yante Maten

On the difficulty of getting back to winning ways…
“I haven’t given up in anything in my life. Being a leader of this team, I’m going to relay that message that we don’t give up. That’s not how we roll at Georgia. At the end of the day, we made our own bed so we got to fix it and keep rolling.”

On if everyone has been on the same page or not…
“I think we have. At the end of the day it’s just execution and getting the job done and we haven’t been doing that. And that’s disappointing.”

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