Georgia Bulldogs fall meekly at Arkansas

Arkansas guard Jalen Tate (11) is fouled by Georgia defender Toumani Camara (10) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)
Arkansas guard Jalen Tate (11) is fouled by Georgia defender Toumani Camara (10) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

Credit: Michael Woods

Credit: Michael Woods

Georgia melted like late-spring snow after halftime and fell to 0-3 in SEC play with a 99-69 loss to Arkansas in Fayetteville on Saturday.

The Bulldogs were within four points two seconds before intermission, then were outscored 56-32 in the second half. They were hurt by foul trouble for leading scorer and rebounder Toumani Camara throughout the game, but most of the damage was of their own accord, with 21 turnovers and poor outside shooting and rebounding.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s defense was abysmal. The Razorbacks shot 60 percent from the floor and 75 percent from 3-point range and out-rebounded the Bulldogs 40-30.

“I didn’t like our spirit and energy, and I think it affected us on both ends,” Georgia coach Tom Crean said. “It was effort-related. I didn’t have a lot of foot soldiers with me today.”

Camara scored Georgia’s first eight points of the game, but drew his first and second fouls four minutes into the contest and played only 10 minutes in the opening half. Camara came back in the second half and almost immediately drew his third foul. He fouled out with 10:01 remaining after scoring 15 points in only 16 minutes of play. Georgia’s leading rebounder had zero Saturday.

The Bulldogs trailed 74-52 at that point. It quickly got worse as the hustle differential tilted heavily toward Arkansas. Georgia fell behind by 35, 88-53, with six minutes to play.

“The first half we were right where we needed to be,” Crean said. “The second half, the wheels came off, and we didn’t have anybody who wanted to get greasy and put the wheels back on.”

Forward Andrew Garcia matched Camara with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting in 19 minutes. Sahvir Wheeler added 14 points, but had five turnovers to go with his five assists. Justin Kier scored five points three days after scoring a career-high 25 in an overtime loss at LSU on Wednesday.

The Bulldogs have not won at Bud Walton Arena in 10 years.

The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Razorbacks (10-2, 1-2 SEC), who are playing with 11 newcomers and were missing starting guard Justin Smith on Saturday. Arkansas met little defensive resistance, shooting 52 percent from the floor and making 12 3′s on 57.1 shooting.

The Hogs got 25 points from Moses Moody and 20 from Davonte Davis.

It was the third consecutive loss for Georgia (7-3, 0-3 SEC) after opening the season 7-0 for the first time since the Final Four season of 1982-83. It’s the first time UGA has lost its first three conference games since the 2012-13 season. It went 15-17 that season and 9-9 in SEC play.

The Bulldogs fall to 7-32 in SEC play under Crean.

“I can’t go to the big picture; I really can’t,” Georgia’s third-year coach said. “The season just started. We played our 10th game by Dec. 22 last (season). … I’m more concerned right now about bounding back from this.”

Georgia will seek its first conference victory of the season Wednesday night against Auburn (6-6, 0-4), which lost its fourth in a row with a 94-90 loss to Alabama on Saturday on the Plains. The Tigers’ 5-star point guard Sharife Cooper, a freshman from McEachern High, was activated against the Crimson Tide after missing the first 11 games with an unspecified eligibility issue.

Arkansas had a 43-37 halftime advantage after exchanging seven leads with Georgia in the early going. Wheeler and Camara scored 10 each, but the Bulldogs committed nine turnovers and made only 3 of 10 mostly open 3-point shots.

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