Georgia Bulldogs fall in overtime to LSU

Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean responds to question regarding referee judgement on an inbound play in final seconds of loss at LSU.

Georgia’s Justin Kier didn’t miss many shots Wednesday night, but he was unable to make a tough, contested layup with two seconds remaining in overtime and the Bulldogs fell to LSU 94-92 in Baton Rouge, La.

“That’s the play we wanted, we just didn’t get the result,” Georgia coach Tom Crean said. “But I’ll say this about Justin Kier: He’s one of the best if not the best layup maker I’ve ever recruited. He can really score. We just missed it at the end.”

The biggest miss of the night was by the officiating crew. Down one point with 20 seconds remaining, a referee called a ball out on Kier that television replays showed he clearly saved from going out of bounds by throwing it off an LSU player. Crean asked officials to review the play but said afterward he was told “they could not.”

Instead, the Tigers were awarded possession and converted it into another point on the other end. Georgia was unable to go back in front in a game in which there were 18 lead changes.

Crean was measured but direct in his postgame criticism.

“I didn’t understand why they couldn’t review it,” Crean said. “I never understood the explanation. But we had two referees in this game that threw up the jump ball in the national championship game. So, I have respect for those guys. But I never really understood why they couldn’t review on that. I’ll check on that (Thursday).”

Despite the loss, Georgia played well in its first road game of the season against a team that is picked to finish third in the SEC. Kier finished with a career-high 25 points, which included six 3-pointers, the last one of which came right before the controversial call. Sahvir Wheeler added 21 points and nine assists as the Bulldogs (7-2) dropped their second SEC game in a row. LSU improves to 7-2 (2-1 SEC).

Toumani Camara had 14 points and 11 rebounds for Georgia.

Georgia guard Sahvir Wheeler defends against LSU guard Javonte Smart Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Baton Rouge, La. (Beau Brune / LSU Athletics)
Georgia guard Sahvir Wheeler defends against LSU guard Javonte Smart Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Baton Rouge, La. (Beau Brune / LSU Athletics)

Credit: LSU Athletics

Credit: LSU Athletics

LSU was led by star sophomore Cam Thomas, who scored 22 of his game-high 26 points after halftime. He was 15-of-16 from the foul line. He had made 42 in a row before missing his next-to-last free throw of the night. Javonte Smart added 21 points and five 3-pointers, including two in the final 1:44 of regulation to wipe out a six-point Georgia lead.

The Tigers were 22-of-33 from the foul line to the Bulldogs’ 12-of-18.

Georgia led by 10 points with 9:08 remaining in regulation but gave it all back in less than two minutes. The Bulldogs would surge again and went ahead 80-74 on Wheeler’s long 3-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer with 1:55 to play. But Smart answered 11 seconds later with a wide-open 3 from the top of the key and dropped a second one in with 1:09 to go. P.J. Horne missed an open 3 from the corner in the final seconds that could have won the game. The grad transfer finished with 11 points on 3-of-11 3-point shooting.

The Bulldogs’ quick game outscored the Tigers 28-3 on fast-break points. But Georgia ultimately was undone by 22 turnovers.

Next stop for the Bulldogs is Arkansas, where they will face the 9-2 Razorbacks Saturday in their second straight road game. Arkansas gave No. 9 Tennessee all it could handle Wednesday night before falling 79-74 in Knoxville.

“I’m proud of them,” Crean said of his team. “Moral victory is not a phrase I’d use but I’m proud of them because they fought hard. Now we’ve got to find out how much resiliency we have.”

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