Georgia will look to pick up its first Southeastern Conference win of the season when it hosts struggling Vanderbilt on Saturday in Athens, Ga.
The Bulldogs (5-11, 0-3 SEC) have lost five in a row and six of their past seven following an 88-72 thumping at Mississippi State (11-4, 2-1) on Wednesday.
Georgia is 14-43 in SEC play under coach Tom Crean but is 3-0 against Vanderbilt, which hasn’t won in Athens since the 2013-2014 season. Vanderbilt has been even worse in league play under coach Jerry Stackhouse, whose Commodores have gone 7-30 in the SEC since he took over prior to the 2019-2020 season, a year before Crean arrived in Athens.
Georgia led Mississippi State by a point at halftime before falling apart in the second half, when it was outscored 53-36 in the final 20 minutes to fall to Mississippi State for the fifth straight time.
“We weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be, as in the first half,” Crean said. “We didn’t come out and stay with the same level of attack. We did rebound, but we let go of the rope shortly after the eight-minute timeout when it was still a highly winnable game. You’ve just got to bear down and not watch the score as much as get stops.”
Kario Oquendo scored a career-high 28 points, with Noah Baumann adding 15 and Jabri Abdur-Rahim 13 for Georgia.
Oquendo leads Georgia in scoring (13.8 points), while Aaron Cook averages a team-high 6.5 assists and 1.5 steals to go along with 10.3 points per game. Braelen Bridges averages 12.0 points.
Jailyn Ingram, who averaged 10.7 points and 6.0 rebounds, is out for the season after tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament against Jacksonville on Dec. 7.
Vanderbilt (9-6, 1-2) is coming off a 78-66 loss to visiting Kentucky (13-3, 3-1) in a game that was much more lopsided than the final score indicated considering the Commodores trailed 78-50 with 6:14 left before ending the game on a 16-0 run.
Scotty Pippen Jr., the conference’s leading scorer, scored a game-high 32 points and Trey Thomas added 14 for the Commodores. But Jordan Wright, who entered the game averaging 12.7 points per game, failed to score for the first time this season for Vanderbilt, which lost its 11th straight game to the Wildcats.
“Scotty played well, Trey played well, but for us we need that third scorer to be consistent and we didn’t get that tonight,” Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse said. “That third scorer allows us to stay in games.”
Pippen leads Vanderbilt in scoring (19.2), assists (2.9) and steals (1.7), with Wright the only other Commodore who averages in double figures at 11.9 points per game.
–Field Level Media