Edwards, Hammonds Power Georgia Past Tennessee, 80-63
ATHENS, Ga. - The Georgia Bulldogs dominated the Tennessee Volunteers, posting an 80-63 victory before a crowd of 10,313 on Wednesday night in Stegeman Coliseum.
The Bulldogs had two players tally 20-plus points. Freshman Anthony Edwards paced all scorers with 26 points and junior Rayshaun Hammonds tacked on another 21. That marked the first time Georgia had two players surpass 20 points since Hammonds and Nicolas Claxton did so against Illinois State last season.
Behind those two impact performances, Georgia defeated Tennessee by 17, Georgia’s largest margin of victory in the last 10 matchups between the two programs. The 80 points scored is also the most scored by the Bulldogs on the Volunteers since 2016 and the most scored on Tennessee this season.
Georgia outperformed Tennessee in 10 categories, including a victory in the rebounding battle. Led by graduate transfer Donnell Gresham Jr. who tallied seven rebounds, Georgia edged Tennessee on the boards 37-34.
Georgia’s successful first half was due large in part to the efficient 3-point performance. While the Bulldogs entered the game averaged 6.9 3-pointers per game, Georgia went 8-for-13 from behind the arc in the opening 20 minutes of play. This also marks the highest first-half three-point percentage on the season. The Bulldogs shot over 50 percent from all three areas in the opening half to score 40 or more points for only the fourth time this season and the first since Dec. 4.
“Our offense made our defense better,” Georgia Head Coach Tom Crean said. “You always want it to be that way, that's always a lot better. The defense was able to sustain things. We challenged shots better, we got our hands up better, our switching was better, and we were able to win the glass. We have to play that way. Our team has to learn to understand that even on the road, if we're not making layups, or we're not getting fouled, or not making free throws and jumpers, if we let our defense continue to do the job, we're going to be fine."
Georgia jumped out to an early 8-3 lead thanks to baskets from three different Bulldogs. Tennessee took its first lead after five minutes of regulation as the result of a 9-0 run and a 3:34 Bulldogs scoring drought.
A shot by Edwards from behind the arc sparked an 8-0 run in under a minute. This allowed the Bulldogs to regain the four-point lead, 16-12.
The Bulldogs continued to extend their advantage, grabbing their first double-digit lead of 10 (29-19) with a little over eight minutes remaining in the opening period. Hammonds drained back-to-back three-point shots to give Georgia the 13-point lead. Out of a media timeout, senior Jordan Harris capped a 10-0 Bulldogs’ run with a jam on the fast break to go ahead 34-19.
Back-to-back baskets from Edwards propelled Georgia to its first 20-plus point advantage, 47-25, with just over a minute remaining. Edwards notched 20 points in the first 20 minutes.
Tennessee hit a three-point shot on their final possession to send Georgia into the locker room sporting the 47-28 lead.
After almost seven minutes of play in the second half, the Bulldogs matched their largest lead of the game, 22, thanks to back-to-back baskets from Hammonds. Shortly after, Georgia grabbed its largest advantage of the contest up to that point, 23 (63-40), off free-throws from Harris.
Continuing his dominance, a contested three-point shot from Edwards extended the Bulldogs’ lead to 26, the largest of the game, with 2:41 remaining.
While Tennessee was able to cut its deficit under 20 in the closing minutes, the Bulldogs defeated the Volunteers, 80-63.
Up next, Georgia travels to Starkville to face the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 8:30 p.m. The matchup will be televised on SEC Network. The Bulldogs return to a sold-out Stegeman Coliseum Saturday, Jan. 25 to host the Ole Miss Rebels at 5:30 p.m.