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Georgia boasts 100 plus points over Savannah State 110-76 in season opener

UGA-Savannah State
Photo: Kristin M. Bradshaw/UGA

ATHENS, Ga. – The Tom Crean era in Georgia men’s basketball started with the third most points in a season opener in school history as the Bulldogs beat Savannah State, 110-76, Friday night at Stegeman Coliseum.

It marked the 18thtime in Georgia history that the Bulldogs eclipsed the 100-point mark and just the sixth time in the 21st-century. The only other season openers that accumulated more points were in 1917 and 1967.

“I got to learn to be positive especially when you score that amount of points,” said Georgia men’s head coach Tom Crean. “We got to figure out how to come out in the second half with the same level of intensity.”

Georgia’s 59 first half points set the precedents for the high-scoring affair as it was the most points in a half since the 2007 home opener.

Leading the Bulldogs (2-0) was sophomore Teshaun Hightower with 18 career-high points comprised of a career-high of three 3-pointers. Sophomore Nicolas Claxton nabbed his first career double-double with a career-high in points and rebounds notching 15 and 13 respectively. He also recorded career-highs in assists (2) and blocks (5). Senior Derek Ogbeide (15), junior Tyree Crump (14) and freshman Amanze Ngumezi (10) also had double-digit points. Crump scored all but two points from 3-pointers.

To start the game a pair of back-to-back dunks from Claxton ignited the Bulldog lead, 4-0, which was maintained for the rest of the night. A free throw by freshman Rayshaun Hammonds at the 16-minute mark elevated the Bulldog lead to double digits contributing to 14 unanswered points. Savannah State fought back knocking in a three to bring them into the game at 15:49.

The Tigers (0-2) edged their way to a five-point deficit but were unable to catch Georgia. A trio of threes from Crump reestablished and kept the Bulldog double-digit lead. A three from Hightower gave Georgia its first 20-point lead of the night at 41-20. For the last six minutes of the half the Bulldogs held onto the 20-plus point lead.

A fast break by Ogebide brought the largest margin of the half to 29, making the score 59-31 with less than a minute to go. Savannah State sank a three with four seconds left bringing the score to 59-34 to round out the half.

Despite the 22-point lead, the Tigers drained three three’s in the first two minutes of the half. They then added another trio of threes with a tip-in at the 14:23 mark to bring the deficit to nine. A three from senior Turtle Jackson and a basket from freshman Tye Fagan brought back the 10-plus point surplus that was preserved for the remainder of the game.

Georgia fought back to regain the 20-point advantage from a senior E’Torrion WIlridge 3-pointer at 8:23. Hammonds tipped in the ball to break 100 at 2:57, as well as ink a 30-plus point lead. A deep 3-pointer by freshman Ignas Sargiunas coupled with a jam by senior Christian Harrison made it a 37-point advantage securing the 110-76 Georgia victory.

Tonight’s home opener recorded the most in attendance with 9,018 since Stegeman’s capacity was reduced to 10,523 seats (1994-95). This is the third largest home opener, behind Georgia Tech on 12/5/81, since the coliseum downsized from 11,200 seats via bleachers in 1994.

Georgia travels to Philadelphia on Tuesday, November 13, to take on Temple University. The game is set for 7:00 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN3.

POST-GAME NOTES

• Tonight’s attendance of 9,018 is the most for a home opener since Stegeman’s capacity moved to 10,523 (1994-95). It is the most since a capacity-full crowd of 11,200 came for the home opener against Georgia Tech on 12/5/1981.

• The 110 points goes down as the 18th-highest score in Georgia history and just the sixth game in the 2000s. It is the third-highest in all-time season openers.

• In the first half, Georgia accumulated 59 points – the most since 11/9/07 when Georgia scored 60 points in the second half against Jacksonville State which was also a season opener. The 59 points fell three points short of reaching the top-6 in the media guide for most points in a half in Georgia history. The record is 67 placed in 1997.

• Statistically in the first half, Georgia had the edge in rebounding (36-20), shooting percentage (56.1-27.7), and assists (16-6). Both teams knocked down seven 3-pointers.

• The Bulldogs finished with 28 assists. Last season, Georgia tallied just three 20+ assist games.

• On the boards, Georgia grabbed 62 rebounds. Last season, Georgia had just one 50+ rebound game which also occurred in the season opener.

• The season-opening starting lineup for the 2018-19 campaign featured William Jackson II, Teshaun Hightower, Rayshaun Hammonds, Nicolas Claxton, and Derek Ogbeide.

• All 15 Bulldogs logged minutes in the game, 14 of which notched points – a feat not accomplished last season.

• Five Bulldogs eclipsed the double-digit scoring mark in the game, four of which did so in the first half. At the half, the double-digit scoring consisted of Teshaun Hightower (12), Derek Ogbeide (10), Tyree Crump (12), and Nicolas Claxton(12), while they finished with 18, 12, 14, and 15, respectively. Freshman Amanze Ngumezi was the fifth Bulldog to record double digit scoring, finishing with 10.

• Sophomore forward Nicolas Claxton notched his first career double-double, which was obtained in the first half with 12 points and 11 rebounds en route to finishing with 15 points and 13 rebounds – both career highs.

• Sophomore guard Teshaun Hightower’s 18 checked in as a new career-high and was his fourth career double-digit scoring game.

• Senior Derek Ogbeide notched his 20th double-digit scoring game, while freshman Amanze Ngumezi earned his first.

• Junior guard Tyree Crump had his 11th career game reaching double-digits in scoring.

• Outside of his career scoring and rebounding, Nicolas Claxton tallied career-high five blocks, three of which occurred in the first half. He had four three-block games last season.

• Junior guard Tyree Crump hit a team-high and career-tying four three-pointers (4-of-9) which all came in the first half.

• William Jackson started his 50th career game including 35 in a row. The senior guard had a career-tying six rebounds.

• Teshaun Hightower made a career-best three 3-pointers (3-of-6), while tying his career-high steal mark of two.

POST-GAME QUOTES

Georgia Head Coach Tome Crean

On scoring 110 points but having a slow second half…

“I’m not one of those coaches that come out and say it’s zero-zero, but I was a little ticked at halftime because we had the chance to put the hammer down and bring it up over 30 at the end of the first half and we got cute. That’s not what we do, there’s no place for cute and cool. There’s a place for putting the hammer down and going…I did not like the way we came out in the second half at all. I do like the way that we figured it out, got into the bonus, and did a lot better things, so I think that was good.

On the team’s resilience…

“I love working with these guys. Like I said to them, no one has given me a call, text, or asked for a meeting and said ‘we’re okay being picked 13th, you know what, don’t push us so hard because it would be okay if we lost most of our games.’ No one has come in to see me on that, and until someone does, we’re going to keep pushing hard. And I don’t think they’re coming. They want to be good, they really want to do a good job, but we got to understand what doing a good job really means.”

Sophomore Forward Nicolas Claxton

On setting the tone…

“We just wanted to come out and there, and like you said, set the tone and bring the intensity early. We didn’t wanna give them any confidence starting the game off. We definitely look to get out a run. I don’t think we took as many 3s as them. We like to play a little more inside-out. That pace it was different, a lot different than probably the teams we’ll play. It was good for us to get in shape and get out there and compete against them.”

On the tempo…

“ I would say the tempo we played with today is close to where we want to play. As long as we’re playing fast, and we need to cut down on our turnovers. We need to make sure we’re taking care of the ball.  We can’t just be playing fast and playing reckless. Playing fast & smart is the biggest thing.”

Junior Guard Tyree Crump 

On the tempo…

“I never played a team that shot the ball like they do. But, we expected it, but I’ve never seen it like that in my life. It definitely was good for us. We got a chance to see where we at for conditioning, we got to get in better shape, those guys right there showed us we got to run. But I mean if we get in shape, we will be able to execute. I thought we had what 23 turnovers, we are cutting down on turnovers. We will be better.”

On Coach Crean’s message after lead was cut to 9…

“Tell us keep fighting, execute the offense. Everything will take care of itself, we play our game, and everything will take care of itself. Once Turtle hit a three that kind of changed the momentum of the game. We just went from there.”

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