Georgia’s 87-82 victory Tuesday over Winthrop was a little more dramatic than it needed to be, but that’s to be expected when turnovers are high and defense is down.
Winning their third consecutive game over an NCAA Tournament team from a year ago, the Bulldogs improved to 7-1 with another victory that was perhaps closer than it should have been. Georgia shot an impressive 50 percent from the field, hit 42 percent of its 3-point attempts and outrebounded the Eagles 40-24.
“We found a way to win versus a terrific offensive team in Winthrop,” said Georgia coach Mark Fox. “We knew they were going to score – we leave here very disappointed in our defense, even though we were playing a good offensive team.”
Georgia got up by as many as 10 points in the first half, but foul trouble found Yante Maten early, forcing the Bulldogs to play a little softer close to the basket.
The Eagles trailed by two points at the half and within three minutes of the second half took a 44-42 lead and later maintained an advantage for six long minutes before Georgia, paced in part by Derek Ogbeide and Mike Edwards, fought their way back in and outscored Winthrop 19-14 in the last five minutes of play.
Here are three things to know about Georgia’s victory.
TOO MANY TURNOVERS
After taking pretty good care of the ball for the past few games, the Bulldogs relapsed Tuesday, recording 16 turnovers, which resulted in 22 Winthrop points.
Yante Maten, who had a double-double of 25 points and 11 rebounds (his fourth of the season), said the miscues were a result of an insistent Winthrop defense and Georgia’s somewhat lethargic approach to offense.
“We didn’t take care of it like we needed to and they were aggressive, which leads to turnovers,” said Maten, who has scored double-digit points in all eight of Georgia’s games. “If you’re not aware how you’re taking care of the ball, turnovers are bound to happen.”
It’s likely that Georgia – who had 10 turnovers against Marquette and just two against St. Mary’s — will soon have a refresher course in ball security, taught by Professor Fox.
“We had 16, which is too many,” said Fox. “We made those same errors a couple of weeks ago and we had an old-school practice after that and fixed it, so we’ll have to have another one.”
EDWARDS, OGBEIDE BIG IN CRUNCH TIME
Ogbeide tallied 10 points in Georgia’s overtime victory over St. Mary’s, but had yet to have a signature performance at home this season. Likewise Edwards, who was the Bulldog who suffered the most, health-wise, during the team’s recent California swing.
But on Tuesday, both were in fine form as Ogbeide finished with 10 points and six rebounds and Edwards recorded 11 points and five rebounds.
“Mike quietly has been playing really well for us,” said Fox. “He was good for us at Marquette. He was the one guy we left at the hotel in California when he was sick – he couldn’t get through it. Now he’s feeling better and playing like a junior should play. Tonight he did some good things.”
“I think it was my best night,” said Edwards, whose previous best night was six points against Cal State-Fullerton. “I felt really loosened up and confident.”
Ogbeide scored on a layup at the five-minute mark of the second half to give Georgia a one-point lead at 70-69 and scored again 25 seconds later to maintain the Bulldogs’ advantage.
“Derek gave us crucial rebounding and points when we needed them because it was a close game and Mike did a good job with his offensive play and post production,” said Maten.
Besides Maten, Edwards and Ogbeide, the Bulldogs also got double-digit point production from Turtle Jackson, whose 14 points marked his seventh double-point game of the season and Hammonds, who finished with 10 points and three rebounds.
Winthrop came into Tuesday’s game averaging 90 points a night, but there’s not much question Georgia lacked a certain something on defense.
With Maten and Hammonds collecting early fouls, the driving lanes opened for the Eagles, who took advantage of the opportunities. Forward Xavier Cook led Winthrop with a game-high 31 points and was followed by Nych Smith, who added 12 points, and Anders Broman, who had 11 points.
“Yante got a couple of fouls early and wanted to stay in the game and we got really soft,” said Fox. “They played five guys out and one of the things we wanted them to do was have tough 2s, to take away the 3s and if they get tough 2s, great. Even in the first half, the only 3 they had for a long time was off an offensive rebound.”
Georgia is now off for exams and will return to the court Dec. 16 at Massachusetts.