Photo: Lauren Tolbert/UGA Sports
Photo: Lauren Tolbert/UGA Sports

Georgia struggles in Cayman Islands Classic semifinal; faces Georgia State next

Twenty-four hours after Georgia sophomores Rayshaun Hammonds and Nicolas Claxton combined to score 53 points against Illinois State, the entire Bulldogs tallied just 49 versus Clemson.

Georgia played well enough defensively to stay within striking distance, but Clemson still won the Cayman Islands Classic semifinal matchup relatively easy, 64-49, on Tuesday afternoon.

Next up, the Bulldogs will face Georgia State in the tournament’s third-place game. That consolation game will tip at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Georgia coach Tom Crean continued to have a big rotation Tuesday, as 11 different players played versus Clemson, but the story in this one was Georgia’s lack of scoring.

Hammonds and Claxton went ice cold after dominating Illinois State on Monday. The two forwards combined for just 10 points and shot 26.7 percent. In particular, Claxton really struggled, shooting 1-of-9.

But they were hardly the only Bulldogs that couldn’t find their shooting stroke. Georgia shot 38.0 percent in the loss, which is, by far, the team’s worst shooting percentage in a game this season.

The Bulldogs shot 50.4 percent in their first four games, but it might as well have been a different team out there against Clemson. The Tigers played a slow pace that seemed to put the Bulldogs to sleep, and the crisp passing Georgia had Monday simply wasn’t there.

Georgia didn’t have a player reach double figures in scoring until there was under four minutes remaining in regulation. Junior forward Derek Ogbeide finished with 11 points and was the only Bulldogs starter with more than seven points.

Junior guard Tyree Crump led all Bulldogs bench players with nine points, shooting 3-of-7. The rest of the Georgia bench combined to tally 10 points.

In addition to its poor shooting afternoon, Georgia again struggled with turnovers. Crean’s squad coughed up 17 turnovers, which was just about what the team was averaging coming into Tuesday.

The good news is Clemson didn’t play much better offensively and a big reason why was the Georgia defense. The Tigers shot just 39.7 percent and turned it over 14 times.

Despite the poor shooting afternoon, Claxton didn’t let that effect his defense. He posted a game-high five blocks and also recorded a steal.

However, Georgia poorly rebounded Tuesday, which was ultimately the difference in the game. The Tigers won the rebounding battle, 44-31, and out-rebounded the Bulldogs, 12-3, on the offensive glass.

Clemson senior guard Marcquise Reed scored a game-high 24 points. Tigers forwards Shelton Mitchell and Elijah Thomas posted 13 and 12 points, respectively, as well.

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