Georgia an easy winner over UMass

Georgia men’s basketball head coach Tom Crean.
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Georgia men’s basketball head coach Tom Crean.

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

A little redemption for Georgia.

In their second-ever meeting against Massachusetts in men’s basketball, the Bulldogs returned the favor from last season, beating the Minutemen in much the same fashion in which they lost last December.

Georgia jumped out to a 10-point lead less than five minutes into the game en route to a 91-72 victory Sunday night. UMass turned around its slow start, but never pulled within closer than five.

Georgia started the game on a 12-2 run. Sophomore forward Rayshaun Hammonds led the Bulldogs with 10 points in the first half.

Fellow sophomore forward Nicolas Claxton posted a team-high 20 points and 11 rebounds, recording his sixth double-double of the season. Hammonds finished with 18 points on 4 of 6 shooting. Senior forward Derek Ogbeide also reached double figures with 12 points.

While the starting frontcourt did the heavy lifting, they had plenty of help. Ten different Bulldogs made a field goal.

UMass did its best to climb out of its early hole, but Hammonds capped off the first half with a 3-pointer in the final seconds. Then heading into the first media timeout of the second half, Claxton recorded a three-point play. Both plays seemed to demoralize the Minutemen and helped keep the Bulldogs comfortably ahead.

The Bulldogs built their lead with a 53.6 shooting percentage in the first half. Georgia made 8 of 19 from 3-point range.

UMass junior guard Lawane Pipkins scored a game-high 22 points, but he went 0-for-8 beyond the 3-point line. The Minutemen only made 4 of 22 attempts from the distance.

This matchup was nearly identical last season with the home team jumping out to an early double-digit lead. At Amherst, UMass started on a 10-2 run and went on to beat Georgia, 72-62.

With this victory, the Bulldogs end their non-conference schedule with an 8-4 record. The Bulldogs have won five of their last six, including three straight, since losing two consecutive games in the Cayman Islands. Georgia’s only loss during that stretch was at home to then-No. 20 Arizona State, and the Bulldogs led that game at one point by 18 points.

With the loss, UMass fell to 7-6.

The Bulldogs return to action this Saturday on the road against Tennessee in the team’s SEC season opener. The Bulldogs faced the Volunteers twice last season with the two squads splitting the series. Tennessee entered this week ranked No. 3 in both the AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll. The Volunteers are 11-1 and have only lost to No. 2 Kansas.