“It was a team victory and so many guys did different things to impact the game,” Crean said.
Precious Achiuwa led Memphis (12-2) with 20 points and 15 rebounds, while Alex Lomax finished with 11 points. Boogie Ellis scored 10 for the Tigers, who lost for the first time since Nov. 12 to Oregon. Forward DJ Jeffries, who averages 12 points, was held out with an illness.
The game was close throughout with 10 ties and 20 lead changes. Neither team could build a lead of more than eight points. But it also was sloppy with turnovers — Memphis committing 22, Georgia 17 — and neither team shot better than 40%.
“Neither team played a great game, a pretty game,” Crean said, “but (it was) a hard-played game. We were fortunate to get the win.”
The key was Georgia (10-3) closing the game on a 6-1 run as both teams missed opportunities down the stretch. Memphis did not score a basket after Achiuwa’s 3-pointer with 4:35 remaining.
“We had a couple of chances to knock them out,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said. “We went up seven one time, and eight the next time, and just couldn’t do it. When you let a team hang around, this is what can happen.”
Georgia hosts Kentucky on Tuesday in its SEC opener.