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Georgia Tops Alabama, 82-76, for First SEC Win


Georgia basketball player Jabri Abdur-Rahim (1) during a game against Alabama at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga., on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022. (Photo by Mackenzie Miles)

ATHENS, Ga. – Powered by a late rally, the University of Georgia men’s basketball team earned its first conference win of the season with an 82-76 victory over Alabama Tuesday evening before 6,703 spectators at Stegeman Coliseum.

Graduate Aaron Cook led Georgia (6-14, 1-6 SEC) in scoring with 15 points, while senior Braelen Bridges and sophomore Jabri Abdur-Rahim each scored 13. Sophomore Kario Oquendo pitched in with 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds. For the evening, the Bulldogs shot 44.6 percent from the field and led in points off turnovers by a 23-14 margin.

“We came back yesterday. It was phenomenal,” said Georgia head coach Tom Crean following the game. “Nobody is hanging their heads. There's tremendous energy. They're buying into the fact that we believe we're going to win. And tonight, we didn't see those ghosts that we sometimes see, when things start to go bad for us. And I'm really, really proud of the way they played. But, again, the preparation leading into it, the spirit, the togetherness, those are things that carried us through, and it carried us through the game.”

Georgia started fast as Oquendo scored the first six points before senior Noah Baumann connected on a 3-pointer and junior Dalen Ridgnal slammed down a missed jumper. After Alabama (13-7, 4-4 SEC) moved ahead following the first media break, consecutive threes from Abdur-Rahim and freshman Christian Wright helped the Bulldogs regain the lead halfway through the period. The sharp shooting continued as back-to-back treys from junior Jaxon Etter put the Bulldogs up eight with under eight to play.

Using an 8-0 run, Alabama quickly tied the game, eventually retaking the lead on three-consecutive 3-pointers. As the half wore down, the Crimson Tide added to its advantage with a pair of layups as the Bulldogs found their way to the foul line, culminating in a 42-36 Alabama lead at the half.

After Alabama’s lead reached nine early in the second half, Georgia rattled off a 12-3 lead to knot the game at 48, capped off by a corner three from Cook. The Crimson Tide soon regained the lead thanks to six straight points from senior Keon Ellis, but Oquendo stemmed the tide with an electric baseline dunk. Both teams traded baskets as the game stayed tight heading into the midway mark of the half.

After over three minutes without a bucket, Georgia narrowed the margin to one with just over five to play, followed soon after by three makes at the line from Abdur-Rahim following a foul on a 3-point attempt. Two more makes from the New Jersey native put the Bulldogs back in front, yet the Tide countered with a put-back dunk at the other end.

Benefitting from a pair of key rebounds, Georgia extended its lead to four with 2:22 remaining. Continued success at the line helped the Bulldogs add to the margin, making it 76-70 with just over a minute to play. The Crimson Tide earned an extra trip to the line with a steal off an inbounds pass but missed both free throws. In the closing seconds, Etter sealed the game with a jumper in the paint.

Georgia returns to the road this weekend as it travels to Nashville to face Vanderbilt for the second time this season. The matchup with the Commodores tips off at 6 p.m. EST and will be aired on SEC Network.