Bulldogs Drop Home Finale to Volunteers, 75-68
ATHENS, Ga. – In the final home contest of the season, the University of Georgia men’s basketball team fell to No. 13 Tennessee, 75-68, Tuesday evening before 6,139 spectators at Stegeman Coliseum.
Graduate Aaron Cook led Georgia (6-24, 1-16 SEC) in scoring with 17 points, along with four assists and three steals. Sophomore Kario Oquendo tallied 16 points, while redshirt senior Braelen Bridges posted 12 points on 6-for-7 shooting. For the game, the Bulldogs shot 44.8 percent from the field.
“I’m proud of their fight,” said Georgia head coach Tom Crean following the game. “I really appreciate the way the fans were here. I appreciate the way they’ve been here all year, the way they stuck with them. Our guys believed, and we just came up short. But it certainly wasn't from flinching. It certainly wasn't from lack of belief, and it certainly wasn't from not wanting it.”
Tennessee (21-7, 13-4 SEC) built an early lead with its outside shooting, connecting on four 3-pointers in the first seven minutes. After going down by six, Georgia responded with a quick 7-0 run to move back in front at 12-11 and continued to answer the Volunteers as the period neared its halfway mark. The Bulldogs eventually retook the lead with eight straight points, highlighted by an incredible dunk from Oquendo to make it 24-18.
Unfortunately for Georgia, the six-point lead proved to be short-lived as Tennessee unfurled a 10-3 run to lead 28-27 with three minutes to play. Tough makes from Bridges in the paint, along with a three from junior Jaxon Etter, helped the Bulldogs keep pace as the teams went to the locker room tied at 35.
As the second half began, Oquendo took command of the Georgia attack, scoring eight of the Bulldogs’ first nine points. Tennessee’s scoring picked up in the same span as junior Josiah-Jordan James netted eight consecutive points to put the Volunteers up five by the first media break. Powered by its strong shooting, the Tennessee lead soon ballooned to 15 with under 10 minutes to play.
Now facing their largest deficit of the evening, the Bulldogs worked to move back into single digits via an 11-0 run spurred by Cook. After a Dalen Ridgnal jumper made the score 64-60 with six minutes left, the Volunteers broke their five-minute scoring drought with a John Fulkerson jumper. The scoring was limited for both teams in the closing minutes with Cook’s layup keeping the Bulldogs within six heading into the final 60 seconds. However, Tennessee was able to seal the game at the foul line.
Georgia closes its regular season this weekend with a trip to Missouri on Saturday, March 5. The matchup with the Tigers is set for a 3:30 p.m. tip and will air on SEC Network.