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Georgia takes care of business in 69-58 rout of Jacksonville, despite losing Ingram
The Bulldogs get their second victory in a row over the Dolphins
Athens, Ga. — It was a night where Georgia didn't need any drama in a dominant performance and victory over Jacksonville.
The Bulldogs (4-5) managed to shoot well against the Dolphins (4-3), finishing just under 50 percent from the field. Georgia had several scorers in double-digits, including Braelen Bridges (14), Jailyn Ingram (12) and Jabri Abdur-Rahim (10). Junior Jaxon Etter added eight points and freshman Kario Oquendo totaled seven, respectively.
Fourth-year head coach Tom Crean was impressed with his following the victory.
“Well, I thought we were good,” he explained. “We had our own in the second half because we only had three (turnovers) to start the game during the first half, but I thought we were really more aggressive defensively. They're a hard team to play because they were scoring at the rim. We didn't necessarily want to go to the pressure and give them something uncontested that we weren't as good at yet.”
It was a pretty tight game in the first half until the 7:50 mark when Abdur-Rahim hit a pair of free throws to take a two-point lead, which would never be given up. The Bulldogs would out-score Jacksonville 15-8 down the stretch to lead by eight at halftime.
A huge part of Georgia’s first-half success was its ability to limit turnovers, which has been a primary concern in recent games. The Bulldogs only gave up the ball three times in the first 20 minutes. Senior point guard Aaron Cook lost control of the ball on two separate occasions, and Ingram gave it up following an offensive board he grabbed.
Abdur-Rahim pointed out that his teammates did a really great job of handling the pressure and limiting the mental mistakes, which have often occurred at different points in the season.
“We did a really good job starting with Aaron and Christian (Wright), our two main ballhandlers,” he said. “They did a really good job, being poised, playing under control. We knew that was a focus, over the past couple of games we’ve had a lot of live-ball turnovers … I feel like we were really in control, and I think a part of that was our ability to take care of the ball.”
The focus of the team shifted when Ingram went down on the floor with 14:21 remaining. The 6-foot-7, 225-pound graduate transfer suffered a non-contact injury after going up for a rebound. Ingram had to be helped off the floor by trainers. The Bulldogs responded from that point on by consistently building to their lead in the final period. Georgia led by as many as 16 points, despite turning the ball over 13 times in the second half.
Crean was devastated in his post-game press conference, barely able to get out words as he fought back tears.
“What I've been seeing from Jailyn (Ingram) in the last couple weeks in games, at times and at practice was a guy that was going to be an all-league defensive player with the way he's grown,” Crean said. “He's made so many strides in two weeks and a lot of it’s because of his leadership, so our guys they rallied to it, and they were much more aggressive with 51 deflections on the game. We were able to capitalize. We tried a couple of homerun plays and might have capitalized even more, but it was a good solid win for us. There's no doubt.”
Georgia shot 52.6 percent (10-of-19) from the field in the second half. It was also a valiant effort from the 3-point strike as the Bulldogs went 3-of-8 (37.5 percent), while also shooting 14-of-20 (70 percent) on free throws in the final period. The Dolphins’ eight turnovers led to Georgia’s 17 points off their miscues. Also, the Bulldog defense had five steals in the final 20 minutes, totaling double-digits (10) for the game, which was a season-high.
Georgia will have nearly two weeks off before its next game against George Mason on Dec. 18.
Abdur-Rahim expressed that he would like to continue playing, especially since the Bulldogs are playing more as a unit.
“As someone who loves to play, I’d rather just keep playing,” he said. “I wish we had a game tomorrow. I’ll play tomorrow, but I think we’ll get some well-needed rest. We’re going to get a lot of practice time in and some individual work, that’s always good. We need some time to focus on our academics and stuff so there are some positives to it, but I want to keep playing, I want to keep this momentum going.”
Here is the video from Crean’s postgame interview: