It came fewer than three minutes into the game and it gave Georgia a marginal lead of 4-2. But when Amanze Ngumezi put in a layup at the 17:34 mark of the first half, it marked the end of the brief and only time that The Citadel was tied with the Bulldogs Tuesday night.
Still, the game didn’t come easy to Georgia in its 95-86 win. With under 10 minutes left in the game, The Citadel was within one point. For every run Georgia seemed to have, The Citadel seemed to match.
But behind the sheer offensive willpower of Anthony “Ant Man” Edwards, who finished the game with 29 points on 10-of-23 shooting, the Bulldogs of UGA were able to leave Stegeman Coliseum avoiding an early-season upset.
“All that matters is we got the win,” Edwards said. “I don’t really care about having 29, 28. I could get 30, it doesn’t really matter. ... We got the win. That is all that matters.”
While Georgia’s offense neared the 100-point mark, its defense gave up nearly as much. A big part of that was from The Citadel’s explosion from deep. On 33 shots from 3-point distance, The Citadel knocked in 14 for 42 points.
And they came at key times, too. Twice in the second half, a Georgia run was silenced with a 3-pointer from The Citadel. Another time, one of Edwards’ 3’s was canceled out by one of The Citadel’s own. UGA’s defense was part of the problem.
“We were supposed to run them off the line, but we didn’t do that,” Edwards said. “We were just letting them shooting 3’s. That’s on our part. ... We got to get way better at defense as a team.”
On the other side, Georgia was trying to match the pace on 3-pointers, putting up 29 of its own. Compared to The Citadel’s 45.2%, Georgia only knocked in seven of its own for 24.1%.
The misses never seemed discouraging to the home team, though. After starting the game 1-of-4 from 3-point range, Tyree Crump kept firing away, ending the game 2-of-11. Edwards took nine of his own, hitting only two of them.
For coach Tom Crean however, it was frustrating. He knew Georgia couldn’t match The Citadel in 3’s, yet the players were trying to anyways.
“We’re not going to win the game against a team like The Citadel by outshooting them,” Crean said. “They know way more about how they want to get all those 3’s.”
But the missed 3’s were the least of Crean’s concerns. It was the negatives on defense — lack of communication, poor switching and failure to close out shooters — that nagged him the most.
“We don’t communicate well enough,” Crean said. “We don’t have (former Bulldog) Nic Claxton back there being able to switch one-through-five at 6-foot-11½ with a 7-6 wingspan that can guard everybody. We don’t have that right now. ... You gotta make sure you’re doing your work early in the post and you got to get up on shooters.”
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