ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — After Georgia frittered away most of a 15-point lead in the first half, coach Tom Crean knew something needed to change.
But it was not a new scheme that was needed.
“We just needed to play with more urgency,” he said.
The Bulldogs did just that with a 19-2 run to start the second half on the way to a decisive 78-48 win over Austin Peay Monday night.
Rayshaun Hammonds led the Bulldogs with 17 points. Donnell Gresham added 11 points as Georgia got points from nine different players.
Terry Taylor, the nation’s fourth-leading scorer, tallied 18 points for Austin Peay. Jordyn Adams added 15.
Georgia (9-3) out rebounded Austin Peay (6-7) 50-30 and shot a respectable 55 percent from the field.
“We scored 75 points in 33 minutes, and I will take that,” Crean said. “But we had a real lull at the end of the first half. We were not attacking like we were at the beginning of the game.”
Georgia started fast, sparked by six straight points from Toumani Camara, building a 10-2 lead in under four minutes.
Another 6-0 run, this time divided among three Bulldogs, resulted in a 16-4 lead at 14:30.
A reverse 3-point play by Jordan Harris — he missed the second free throw of two but followed with a putback — gave Georgia a 26-11 lead with 8:36 to go.
But after Sahvir Wheeler’s short jumper gave the Bulldogs a 28-15 lead with 7:05 to go, they scored only one more basket in the half, allowing the Governors to close the gap to 31-26. Adams accounted for nine of Austin Peay’s points in the last seven minutes, including a finger-roll at the buzzer.
The Bulldogs closed out the last seven minutes making one of six field goals and turning the ball over four times in the last 104 seconds.
Crean said, “It was not about halftime adjustments. We needed to do what we do.” He explained that the Bulldogs got stagnant against the Governors’ zone at the end of the first half.
However, Georgia opened the second half with a 19-2 run to explode to a 50-28 lead with 12:12 to go. Gresham hit duplicate 3-pointers from the right corner to force a Governor timeout.
Meanwhile, Austin Peay showed no ability to score. The Governors missed 12 of their first 13 3-pointers and six of their first seven free throws. They finished three for 20 from behind the arc and 11 for 20 at the line.
“Our defense was fantastic for a while,” Crean said. “We held them to two points for a long time. They are a very good team that has two players who score a lot of points. We did a decent job on them.”
“They just put three guys around Terry Taylor and dared our other guys to make a play, make a basket, do anything,” said Austin Peay coach Matt Figger. “We’ve got to be able to generate offense for somebody other than two guys. I thought that we ought to be is a good perimeter-shooting team, and that’s not come to fruition now.”
Georgia: With presumed lottery pick Anthony Edwards relatively quiet, Georgia showed its other weapons as it looks to a marquee match up with Memphis and the subsequent Southeastern Conference schedule.
Austin Peay: The Governors have now lost eight straight road games, dating back to last season, and for the third time in four years finished the non-conference slate without a road win.
Austin Peay: The Governors open Ohio Valley Conference play when they host Southeast Missouri Jan. 2.
Georgia: The Bulldogs travel to Memphis Saturday for one final game before opening the Southeastern Conference schedule. The game is a made-for-TV match up meant to showcase Georgia’s Anthony Edwards and Memphis’ James Wiseman, widely regarded as the top two recruits in the country. But Wiseman played only one game before being suspended. Before the suspension was lifted, Wiseman announced he was hiring an agent and would look to the NBA draft next spring.
HERE COMES THE FUN
As a graduate transfer from Northeastern, Georgia’s Donnell Gresham has played only one game against a Southeastern Conference opponent. “I am expecting a very competitive league,” he said. “We believe we have a good chance to beat any team we play.”
A LITTLE HELP, PLEASE
Outside of Austin Peay’s top two scorers, Terry Taylor and Jordyn Adams, the Governors made only four of 34 field-goal attempts. Aside from Adams, the rest of the team missed all 13 3-point attempts.