Hollingshead transfers from Georgia to Tennessee Lady Vols

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Jillian Hollingshead has transferred to Tennessee after her freshman season, giving Lady Vols coach Kellie Harper four players from the transfer portal.

Harper announced Hollingshead’s commitment Monday.

The 6-foot-5 forward is a 2021 McDonald’s All-American from Powder Springs, Georgia, and ranked No. 37 in espnW’s 100.

Hollingshead played 20 games as a freshman for Georgia, averaging 5.1 points and 2.5 rebounds. She was limited by illness and injury but was a two-time Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week. She scored a season-high 15 points in the NCAA Tournament against Dayton.

Tennessee has added 6-2 forward Rickea Jackson from Mississippi State, 5-6 point guard Jasmine Powell from Minnesota and 6-1 Missouri State graduate transfer Jasmine Franklin. Justine Pissott, a 6-4 guard-forward who is the No. 11 overall player in the 202 class by espnW HoopGurlz, signed in November.

AAC player of year Battles transferring from UCF to Georgia

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ATHENS, Ga. — American Athletic Conference player of the year Diamond Battles is following her coach to Georgia.

The Lady Bulldogs announced Monday that Battles is transferring from Central Florida, allowing her to continue playing for new Georgia coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson.

Battles was a unanimous choice to the All-AAC first team this past season, also claiming defensive player of the year and MVP honors in the league tournament.

She will be a fifth-year senior for the Lady Bulldogs, who are preparing for their first season under the former UCF coach. Abrahamson-Henderson was hired by Georgia after Joni Taylor left for Texas A&M.

“Diamond Battles is one of the nation’s most elite players, and I look forward to seeing the impact she will have on this program,” Abrahamson-Henderson said. “She is a relentless defender who can score and distribute the basketball as a next-level point guard. She is also a leader and someone teammates love to play with.”

The 5-foot-8 Battles led the Knights with 13.9 points per game to go along with 3.4 assists and 2.1 steals. UCF won the league’s regular-season and tournament titles, earned its highest seed ever in the NCAA Tournament and finished 26-4.

Battles also played a major role in the nation’s top-ranked defense. UCF allowed just 47.8 points per game.

Georgia’s Crean shrugs off questions about job security

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ATHENS, Ga. — Tom Crean has had a busy week.

He was inducted into the Marquette sports hall of fame and notched his first Southeastern Conference win of the season, all amid the backdrop of social media criticism and questions about his future as Georgia’s men’s basketball coach.

Crean, who spent nine seasons as the coach at Indiana, said this is not new territory for him and he knows how to handle questions about his job security.

“It’s not my first time down that road in the coaching life, and you learn from experiences,” Crean said this week.

Crean coached five NCAA Tournament teams at Marquette, including the 2003 Final Four team. He had three Sweet 16 appearances among four NCAA teams at Indiana.

Nonetheless, it didn’t end well for him with the Hoosiers.

At Georgia, Crean is facing increasing backlash as the losses mount in his fourth season and his Bulldogs sit in last place in the SEC.

Crean acknowledged feeling relief after his Bulldogs beat Alabama 82-76 on Tuesday night, becoming the last team to record its first SEC win.

“We’ve just got to get this thing started, we’ve just got to get it started,” Crean said after the win. “And that happened for us tonight. So, there’s some relief.”

There will need to be more wins to sustain the feeling of relief. Only a dramatic turnaround can save Georgia (6-14, 1-6 SEC) from its fourth consecutive season with a losing conference record. The Bulldogs play at Vanderbilt on Saturday.

Crean is 47-63 overall and 15-46 in the SEC. Even for a program that won its last NCAA Tournament game in 2002 and hasn’t made the NCAA field since 2015, the SEC record is painful. Crean replaced Mark Fox, who was 77-79 in SEC games and 163-133 overall in nine seasons.

Even before beating Alabama, Crean said his team is better than its record.

“The bottom line is, we are closer in a lot of areas than maybe it appears to people,” he said.

Georgia junior Jaxon Etter said Crean has remained “as confident as ever.”

“There is just an urgency in his voice,” Etter said. “There is an urgency in everyone’s voice like, `Look, we have to figure this out. We’ve got to win basketball games if we are going to do anything special here at Georgia.”‘

If second-year AD Josh Brooks is looking for a sign Crean is laying the foundation for success, the win over Alabama provided a rare glimmer of light. On his way off the court, Crean reached across the scorer’s table to exchange a high-five with Brooks.

Brooks could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Georgia’s dismal start to its conference schedule is not a surprise. The Bulldogs were picked by SEC media to finish last in the league following the offseason departures of nine players through the transfer portal.

The most damaging hits to the Bulldogs’ outlook for this season came when the two leading scorers from last season moved to other SEC schools – Sahvir Wheeler to Kentucky and K.D. Johnson to Auburn. Johnson ranks 13th in the SEC with his average of 13.3 points for No. 1 Auburn. Wheeler leads the SEC with 6.9 assists per game for No. 12 Kentucky.

Even in the new era where transfers are common, the dramatic exodus of players was devastating. Crean tried to compensate by adding seven transfers, including point guard Aaron Cook from Gonzaga, Jabri Abdur-Rahim from Virginia and Kario Oquendo from Florida Southwestern State.

Even with star recruit Anthony Edwards on the team, the Bulldogs finished only 16-16 overall and 5-13 in the SEC in the 2019-20 season. Edwards was the No. 1 overall pick by Minnesota in the 2020 NBA draft following one season at Georgia.

Crean said the coronavirus pandemic robbed him of the opportunity to take full advantage of the recruiting bump expected from having the top draft pick.

“We were really never able to go out and recruit on that,” Crean said.

This year’s team lost two starters to season-ending knee injuries. Georgia’s only returning starter, forward P.J. Horne, was injured before the season. Jailyn Ingram averaged 10.7 points and six rebounds through nine games and, according to Crean, may have been the team’s best player before hurting his knee in early December.

Crean said his return to Marquette for Sunday’s M Club induction ceremony was “really amazing” and provided a reminder that success doesn’t always come quickly.

“We had a really tough beginning there as well,” Crean said. “Yet we turned that thing into competing for the championship in the league and the next year winning the championship and going to the Final Four.”

No. 21 Georgia women ease past UNF behind Staiti, Morrison

Dawson Powers-USA TODAY Sports
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ATHENS, Ga.- Jenna Staiti had 17 points and 10 rebounds, Que Morrison added 16 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 21 Georgia eased by North Florida 69-40 on Wednesday.

Morrison scored nine points in the first quarter as Georgia jumped out to a 20-5 lead and led by double figures the rest of the way. North Florida was just 2-of-12 shooting in the opening frame. Staiti scored seven points in the second quarter to help build a 38-18 lead at the break.

Sarah Ashlee Barker added 11 points and five steals for Georgia (8-1), which was coming off a 55-54 loss to Georgia Tech on Sunday. Staiti recorded her 15th career double-double and Morrison secured her fourth.

Morrison was recognized before the game for becoming the 42nd Lady Bulldog to reach 1,000 career points.

Jaida Bond led North Florida (5-5) with 15 points, making 5 of 8 3-pointers. The Ospreys were outrebounded 52-29.

Abdur-Rahim’s 3 helps Georgia shock No. 18 Memphis 82-79

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ATHENS, Ga. – Jabri Abdur-Rahim’s 3-pointer with less than 2 minutes remaining gave Georgia the lead, and the Bulldogs snapped their four-game losing streak by beating No. 18 Memphis 82-79 on Wednesday night.

The 3-pointer by Abdur-Rahim, who scored 15 points, gave the Bulldogs a 78-77 lead over the Tigers, who led most of the second half. Kario Oquendo, who scored a game-high 24 points, followed with a steal and jam that extended the lead to three points.

Following a missed free throw by Landers Nolley II of Memphis, Georgia’s Jailyn Ingram made one of two free throws for an 81-77 lead. A jam by Nolley, who led the Tigers with 17 points, cut the lead to two points.

Following Christian Wright’s free throw, which pushed Georgia’s lead to three points, Memphis was left with 4.5 seconds to set up a possible tying 3-pointer. Emoni Bates’ heave from just past midcourt bounced off the rim.

Memphis (5-2) suffered its second consecutive defeat, following Friday’s 78-59 loss to Iowa State that caused the Tigers to drop from No. 9 in the AP Top 25.

Georgia (3-5) took its second surprising win over a ranked Memphis team in less than two years. The Bulldogs beat then-No. 9 Memphis 65-62 on Jan. 4, 2020.

Abdur-Rahim’s 3-pointer gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the second half at 48-47. Nolley answered with a 3 to give the lead back to the Tigers.

Alex Lomax, who had 14 points, followed with another 3 for Memphis, but the Tigers couldn’t extend the lead.

Georgia’s Jaxon Etter made two free throws to tie the game at 75-all. Lester Quinones, who had 12 points, gave Memphis the lead with two free throws.

The Bulldogs took a big lead at 28-21. The Tigers’ defensive pressure eventually turned the momentum, and Memphis led 34-32 at halftime.

Georgia committed 13 turnovers, including 11 in the first half.

BIG PICTURE

Memphis: Freshman Emoni Bates, who had 11 points, was assertive in the closing minutes, clearly showing no fear of taking the most important shots. He scored back-to-back baskets in one stretch. Ultimately, the Tigers couldn’t take advantage of their superior size.

Georgia: The Bulldogs were without starting point guard Aaron Cook, who was held out with an illness. Etter, a junior, made his first career start. Cook is the Bulldogs’ second-leading scorer, but the absence of his floor leadership was difficult to overcome in the first half. Wright, who had 17 points, helped fill the void.

UP NEXT

Memphis: The Tigers will play their second of four games against Southeastern Conference opponents in a stretch of 18 days when they play at Mississippi on Saturday.

Georgia: The Bulldogs will continue their stretch of six consecutive home games in December when they face Jacksonville on Tuesday.

Georgia loses only returning starter Horne to knee injury

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
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ATHENS, Ga. — Senior forward P.J. Horne, Georgia’s only returning starter, will miss the 2021-22 season after suffering a knee injury in practice.

Georgia coach Tom Crean said on Twitter that Horne had season-ending surgery on his right knee last weekend. He said Horne hurt the knee when he “bumped knees in a scrimmage, lost footing and went down awkwardly.”

Horne played his first three seasons at Virginia Tech before starting all 26 games at Georgia last season. He averaged 8.5 points and 3.5 rebounds. His 46 3-pointers led the team.

Crean described the loss of Horne as “a major blow to us.” Horne was expected to provide stability and leadership to a revamped roster.

Crean said in his Twitter posts that Horne “was playing so well and showing great leadership as our leading returning player, but more so because he is such a great person and one of the finest people I’ve ever coached. He cares about his teammates deeply.”

The Bulldogs’ leading scorers from last season’s 14-12 team, guards Sahvir Wheeler and K.D. Johnson, transferred to Kentucky and Auburn, respectively.

Crean has had to rely heavily on the transfer portal to rebuild his roster.

Georgia was picked to finish last in the 14-team Southeastern Conference by media in voting released Tuesday.