Following Georgia’s win over Auburn, freshman guard Tyree Crump sat in front of a few reporters, smiling wide while beaming with pride.
It was the third consecutive game Crump had hit two 3-pointers. More importantly Wednesday, however, Crump poured in 10 points during the 79-78 victory. In addition to the two 3s, he put in two free throws and a nifty pump-fake drive for an easy layup.
For Crump, he’s heating up at the right stage of the season. It may have taken some time but Crump is now providing Georgia with yet another offensive weapon.
With J.J. Frazier drawing so much attention of late – and rightfully so since the senior leader has averaged 31 points over the past four games – Crump has been able to step in off the bench with some valuable minutes.
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"If they help on J.J. and he kicks it to me, I’ll shoot the ball," Crump said. "I know it’s going in every time."
Crump’s season began slow as he made only two of his first 15 3-point attempts. Since, he’s caught fire from behind the arc by hitting 13 of his last 26 perimeter shots.
Georgia head coach Mark Fox said Crump hasn’t changed anything in particular with his shot. It was as simple as Crump settling in during his first season on campus.
"It’s totally getting comfortable," Fox said. "He hasn’t changed anything about his stroke. It’s totally about getting comfortable and being able to relax and obviously play with confidence."
Crump’s shooting been a huge lift for Georgia, considering it hasn’t been too consistent of a 3-point shooting team during the year.
In fact, Georgia ranks last in the SEC with 160 3-point makes and is 11th in the conference with a 3-point percentage of 33.4.
But with Crump, along with some sound outside shooting from teammates Turtle Jackson, Jordan Harris and E’Torrion Wilridge, Georgia’s 3-point shooting numbers are beginning to rise.
Against Auburn, Georgia made 10 of 22 3-pointers. In its previous game against LSU, Georgia went 8-of-19 shooting from behind the arc. Georgia made only three 3-pointers against Alabama, with Crump hitting two of them.
Georgia is getting this added element without its most productive post player on the court. Junior forward Yante Maten has missed the past three games, and over 38 minutes against Kentucky, due to a sprained right MCL.
Fox said this recent uptick in 3-point shooting has come at a great time and hopes the trend will continue into Saturday’s game at Arkansas. But Fox also appeared to wish he was getting Crump and company’s contributions while having Maten at his disposal.
"It would be much more of an advantage if we still had Yante in there," Fox said. "Teams would have a decision – should we double-team Maten or should we stay with some of that 3-point shooting. Obviously, without Yante it’s not an issue. But it is good that these guys are finally knocking it in."
Having been on a hot streak, it is clear Crump’s confidence is growing. If he sees a window, he’s taking the shot. That was evident on his second 3-pointer made against Alabama, when Crump dribbled around a ball screen to hit a long-range 3-pointer.
If space is to be had, you can bet Crump will do his part to knock down the 3.
"I’ve been looking for that shot," Crump said.