Georgia and Arkansas meet in an SEC clash on Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark., looking to end two-game losing streaks and regain some rhythm from strong nonconference results.
Georgia started 7-0 and was off to its best start since the 1982-83 season — the only time in which it advanced to the Final Four — before opening SEC play with losses to Mississippi State at home and at LSU in overtime on Wednesday.
Arkansas got off to an 8-0 start before opening SEC play by beating Auburn and has since lost to then-12th-ranked Missouri and No. 9 Tennessee.
Georgia and Arkansas each suffered close losses in their last outings.
Tennesee’s Santiago Vescovi and Josiah-Jordan James each made two free throws in the final 14 seconds to enable Tennessee to hold off visiting Arkansas 79-74. Arkansas had a chance to take the lead after Vescovi’s free throws with 14 seconds remaining, but Jalen Tate’s wide-open 3-pointer from the left wing hit off the back of the rim with nine seconds left and James closed it out at the free throw line.
JD Notae scored a game-high 19 points for Arkansas, which also got 15 points, six assists and five rebounds from Tate. Vance Jackson and Connor Vanover scored 14 and 12 points, respectively.
However, Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said afterward he will tinker with the team’s starting five, which against Tennessee was forwards Jaylin Williams and Vanover and guards Tate, Moses Moody and Desi Sills.
“I’ve said many times we would continue to evolve with so many new faces,” Musselman said. “We would evolve with rotations. Some guys have gotten opportunities, and those opportunities will now go to some other guys.”
Meanwhile, Georgia squandered a 10-point lead midway through the second half, as the Tigers clawed back and ultimately hit consecutive 3-pointers to force overtime.
The Tigers outscored Georgia 14-12 in the extra session and secured the 94-92 win when Justin Kier missed a driving layup as time expired.
Kier led Georgia with 25 points, while Sahvir Wheeler (21), Toumani Camara (14 points, 10 rebounds) and P.J. Horne (11) also scored in double figures for the Bulldogs.
“We are learning and understanding that we can come out here and compete for our first road game,” Georgia coach Tom Crean said. “We can compete, we can play hard, we can play tough, we can get our speed going, we can make big plays, but we can also make mistakes and we have to overcome those.”
–Field Level Media