Morehouse announced Wednesday’s game against Georgia as an exhibition.
For the first 20 minutes, that’s exactly how the Bulldogs seemed to handle it.
Ten first-half turnovers, frequent substitutions, and scoring droughts were problematic at the start. Georgia, however, would eventually overcome those woes and record a 86-72 win over Morehouse, a Division II program out of Atlanta.
Georgia (5-2) was led early on by senior forward Kenny Paul Geno, who scored a career-high 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting. He made four 3-pointers and recorded his second-ever game in double figures – the first being a 13-point outing against Seton Hall last season.
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The Bulldogs were eventually able to pull away from Morehouse (4-3) over the final 12 minutes of the game but it sure wasn’t as easy as a lot of folks expected. Georgia only held a 36-30 lead at halftime and the Maroon Tigers only trailed by seven with less than 12 minutes remaining in the game.
Georgia forward Yante Maten scored 14 points, which extended his game of double-digits scoring outputs to 23 consecutive games. The Bulldogs were led in scoring by freshman guard Tyree Crump, who notched 16 points.
Three who mattered
Crump: Crump didn’t miss a shot on the floor in any capacity. He went 4-of-4 shooting from the floor, which included making two 3-pointers, and made all six of his free-throw attempts. Crump entered the game in a shooting slump, having only made two of his previous 15 shots. Wednesday’s performance elevates Crump from a 13-percent shooter to a 31-percent shooter during the early portion of the season.
Geno: Geno hit two 3-pointers in each of the two halves, with the first two tying the game after Morehouse jumped out to separate three-point leads. Geno also brought down three rebounds in 22 minutes of game action.
Morehouse guard Tyrius Walker: Walker came into the game averaging 15.3 points against six Division II teams. On Wednesday, Walker dropped a game-high 24 points on 9-of-19 shooting. He also had six rebounds and three rebounds in 32 minutes.
Crump hit a 3 at the 11:17 mark of the second half to put Georgia up by 10 points. After an ensuing Morehouse turnover, Crump got the ball in transition and dished it to Pape Diatta for a layup to give the Bulldogs a 12-point lead. The 3-pointer was the first from Crump in his collegiate career and gave Georgia the needed spark to finally run away with the game.
Sloppy all around: Georgia was careless with the basketball against a Division II team that really didn’t do much defensively to disrupt the Bulldogs. Much of the issues Georgia had during the first 25 minutes of the game were self-inflicted. In total, the Bulldogs turned the ball over 15 times and allowed a smaller team to out-rebound them 36-35.
Big two pulled early: Given the first opportunity to substitute, head coach Mark Fox made the decision to pull Maten and senior guard J.J. Frazier from the lineup at the 17:43 mark of the first half. In the moment, it appeared Fox wanted to get more players experience. Afterward, Fox said he was making a statement to his two stars that they needed to play better. Frazier had an uncharacteristic performance, shooting only 3-of-12 from the field for six points. He missed all five of his 3-point attempts but did bring down four rebounds.
Additional contributors: While Maten and Frazier struggled at times, Georgia did get some added production elsewhere. Both Crump and freshman guard Jordan Harris scored in double figures, with Harris logging 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field. Crump’s 16 and Geno’s 15 helped pick up the slack from an off day from Georgia’s top scorers. With those three and Maten’s 14, it marked the first time Georgia had four players in double figures since last season’s second-round NIT loss to Saint Mary’s.
Parker sits, Diatta starts: Juwan Parker started Georgia’s first six games but was unable to play in Saturday’s win over Morehouse. Parker was dealing with soreness in his Achilles, which he injured over a year ago during the 2014-15 season. Fox said afterward that it shouldn’t be anything that keeps him out moving forward. With Parker out, Diatta made his first career start in his place.
Jackson starts again: A year ago, Georgia guard Turtle Jackson averaged only 7.1 minutes per game. This season, Jackson has earned six consecutive starts, including Wednesday’s win over Morehouse. Jackson scored six points while managing the offense at the point. He’s now averaging 19.7 minutes through seven games.
Fox clears the bench: With Georgia finally pulling away late, all of Georgia’s eligible players, sans Parker, got into the game against Morehouse. This marks the second consecutive game the Bulldogs have been able to do this, following last Friday’s 77-59 win over Gardner-Webb.
They said it
Fox on the victory: “It is good to get a win. I don’t think we played particularly well. That is not taking anything anyway from Morehouse. We did get the win and we will learn from it and move forward.”
Maten on Georgia’s slow start: “We weren’t mentally locked in. Not just me and J.J. [Frazier], but the whole team. It looked like we were playing a little lackadaisical, and you can’t ever be like that when playing basketball.”
Morehouse head coach Grady Brewer: “I thought our guys played hard, I thought they competed. I thought at about the mid-point of the second half that we gave them a couple turnovers that helped them push the lead up to 12, then they went to 16. I thought (Georgia) kind of wore us down.”
Georgia will host Marquette at Stegeman Coliseum on Sunday at 2 p.m.