ATHENS -- Auburn’s still No. 1, and Georgia still lost, but there were statements made by both teams as the Tigers had to come from behind to defeat the Bulldogs 74-72 at Stegeman Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.

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With Georgia’s homecourt packed and half-filled with visiting fans, Auburn’s Wendell Green drove the length of the court for a layup with four seconds remaining. That was the Tigers’ first lead since the 6:45 mark as Georgia, which had fallen behind by 15 in the first half, mounted a furious second-half comeback to get back in the game.

The Bulldogs felt like Green committed an offensive foul on Auburn’s final basket. Video replays support the possibility.

“I did think it was a charge,” said Georgia’s Jaxon Etter, who has defending on the play. “But I was told not to touch on things like that, so I’m going to leave it at that.”

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Georgia fans taunt former player K.D. Johnson at the free-throw line for Auburn on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, in Athens. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Georgia fans taunt former player K.D. Johnson at the free-throw line for Auburn on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, in Athens.  “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Combined ShapeCaption
Georgia fans taunt former player K.D. Johnson at the free-throw line for Auburn on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, in Athens. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

In the end, the Bulldogs managed only a half-court try by Aaron Cook at the buzzer to change the final result. The shot went over the backboard, and Georgia remains winless in its history against No. 1-ranked opponents (0-17).

Green finished with 19 points, and former Georgia player K.D. Johnson added 20 for the Tigers (22-1, 10-0 SEC), who won their 19th consecutive game. They head to Arkansas on Tuesday still undefeated in conference play.

“We’ve been down multiple times,” Johnson said of the Auburn streak. “We just muscled through and got the W.”

Kario Oquendo scored 25 points for the Bulldogs (6-17, 1-9), who lost their 11th game in the past 12. Georgia also got 14 points from Braelen Bridges and 13 from Etter. Georgia matched Auburn’s much bigger team 40-40 on points scored in the paint.

Auburn 74, Georgia 72

“Even though we didn’t get the win, this was probably the hardest we have played this season and the best execution that we’ve had,” said Oquendo, a sophomore from Titusville, Fla. “Overall, I can’t be disappointed in our team because we put it all out there, and we lost the game on one play. It sucks that we didn’t get the win, but I think it was the best game we’ve played so far.”

Auburn came into the game as a 16-point favorite, while Georgia coach Tom Crean has been having to answer questions about his job security. Yet the Bulldogs had the lead inside the final minute and still had a chance to win at the buzzer.

“As high as it could possibly be,” Crean said of his belief level that Georgia could win. “I 100 percent believed we would win this game today, and (the team) did, too.”

That Georgia even had a shot to win was borderline miraculous. After Auburn’s Walker Kessler scored on a dunk with 2.5 seconds left, the Tigers went to the locker room leading 42-30.

“I kept saying throughout the first half, ‘all we’re doing is missing layups,’” Crean said. “We were missing layups and close shots. I lost count at seven or eight.”

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Georgia 's Kario Oquendo has his shot blocked by Auburn defender Jabari Smith (right) as he goes to the basket in a NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, in Athens. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Georgia 's Kario Oquendo has his shot blocked by Auburn defender Jabari Smith (right) as he goes to the basket in a NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, in Athens.  “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Combined ShapeCaption
Georgia 's Kario Oquendo has his shot blocked by Auburn defender Jabari Smith (right) as he goes to the basket in a NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, in Athens. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

After making only six field goals in the entire first half, they made eight of their first 10 to open the second half. Steadily, Georgia cut into the Tigers’ margin. An 11-0 run got it within one and forced an Auburn timeout at the 15:13 mark.

After several missed opportunities to grab their first lead of the game, the Bulldogs finally got it when Jabril Abdur-Rahim made two free throws at the 8:20 mark of the second half, to make the score 58-56. Auburn’s K.D. Johnson’s put-back on the ensuing possession immediately tied the score, and that was the second of 10 ties between the teams

Finally, the Bulldogs grabbed a 68-66 lead on Etter’s driving layup from the left wing at the 2:48 mark. Georgia took its last lead, 72-70, on Cook’s driving layup. He missed the corresponding free throw.

Missed free throws were the theme for the Bulldogs. Coming in leading the SEC in conference games at 79.7% as a team, Georgia went 20-of-29 (69%) on Saturday.

After Johnson tied the score with 38.5 seconds remaining, Georgia’s Noah Baumann missed an open 3-pointer from the corner with 13 seconds remaining. That set up the winning drive for Green.

The Tigers got a scare in the first half. Johnson, a sophomore from Atlanta, ran off the court at the 1:22 mark clutching his right wrist and in obvious pain. A Georgia player a year ago, Johnson had just committed a turnover when he fell hard inside the lane. He had 12 points at the time, and Auburn was leading 40-26.

But Johnson returned in the second half without even a wrap on the wrist and proceeded to play more than 33 minutes in the game.

Crean was asked if he had a chance to talk to Johnson before or after the game.

“I shook his hand,” Crean said sharply. “I just coach the game.”

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020522 Athens: Georgia head coach Tom Crean directs his team to a come back in the second half against Auburn that fell just two points short for a 74-72 loss to Auburn in a NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, in Athens. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

020522 Athens: Georgia head coach Tom Crean directs his team to a come back in the second half against Auburn that fell just two points short for a 74-72 loss to Auburn in a NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, in Athens.  “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Combined ShapeCaption
020522 Athens: Georgia head coach Tom Crean directs his team to a come back in the second half against Auburn that fell just two points short for a 74-72 loss to Auburn in a NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, in Athens. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@