Tshiebwe’s 37 points, 24 rebounds lead way in Kentucky’s win

Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports
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LEXINGTON, Ky. –  Oscar Tshiebwe scored a career-high 37 points and grabbed a season-high 24 rebounds in a dominating performance that sent Kentucky to an 85-71 win over Georgia on Tuesday night.

Tshiebwe had 23 points with 15 rebounds in the second half and the Wildcats (12-6, 3-3 SEC) rallied from an eight-point deficit to follow up their win over then-No. 5 Tennessee on Saturday with a victory over the Bulldogs (13-5, 3-2), who came in having won six of their last seven.

Cason Wallace added 17 points, Antonio Reeves had 11 and Jacob Toppin finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Terry Roberts scored 21 points and Kario Oquendo 18 for Georgia.

Tshiebwe scored Kentucky’s first eight points of the second half before CJ Fredrick hit a 3-pointer to give the Wildcats their first lead since a brief edge with 11 minutes left in the first half. Kentucky took the lead for good midway through the second half, but it didn’t reach double figures until Tshiebwe had a dunk and two free throws for a 12-point edge with two minutes to go.

Tshiebwe finished 12-of-20 shooting and 13 of 18 from the line with his rebounds roughly even on both the offensive and defensive boards. In posting his 11th double-double this season, he was the chief reason the Wildcats outscored the Bulldogs 18-2 in second-chance points and were plus-13 on the boards.

After shooting just 33% in the first half in trailing 42-34, the Wildcats hit over 54% in the second half and scored 51 points. It was the opposite situation for Georgia, which shot 56% in the first half and just 36% in the second.

Georgia is host to Vanderbilt and Kentucky is home against Texas A&M in Saturday games.

Miles Kelly leads Georgia Tech to 79-77 win over rival Georgia

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 02 Northeastern at Georgia Tech
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ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s Miles Kelly hit another winning shot against a state rival.

Terry Roberts endured a nightmarish final minute for Georgia.

Kelly hit a long 3-pointer and then a drove for the game-winning floater with 23 seconds remaining as the Yellow Jackets rallied to beat Georgia 79-77 on Tuesday night.

Kelly hit the winning shot in similar fashion against Georgia State on Nov. 12. He did it again to beat the Bulldogs, finishing with a team-high 17 points after failing to score in the first half.

“I’m going to continue to keep shooting, no matter how many times I miss,” Kelly said.

Roberts missed a 3-pointer, turned the ball over twice with bad passes, and was called for an offensive foul as he was trying to drive for the basket that would’ve sent the game to overtime.

“A tough finish for us,” Georgia first-year coach Mike White said. “We were in position to steal one on the road.”

A pair of second-chance buckets seemingly put Georgia (7-3) in control with a 77-73 lead.

The Bulldogs wouldn’t score again as Kelly led the comeback for the Yellow Jackets (6-3) – with a big assist from Roberts.

He had a chance to essentially seal it for the Bulldogs, but his jumper beyond the arc clanked off the rim.

Georgia Tech grabbed the rebound and raced down the court, where Kelly swished a 3 from well behind the stripe that brought Georgia Tech within a point with about a minute left.

Trying to work the ball inside, Roberts made an ill-advised entry pass that was deflected and stolen by Deivon Smith, setting up Kelly’s drive for the basket that put the Yellow Jackets back ahead,

Roberts tried a drive of his own, only to have it blocked by Jalon Moore. Georgia retained possession, but Roberts’ inbounds pass was stolen by Moore, who was fouled and made one of two free throws.

Roberts took the ball again and hurriedly dribbled toward the basket, only to be called for an offensive foul when he sent Smith flying.

“Just sacrificing my body for the team,” Smith said.

Georgia stole an inbounds pass around midcourt, giving Karlo Oquendo one last shot to launch a 3 that still would’ve won it for the Bulldogs. It bounced off the rim.

The game was tight throughout. Neither team led by more than eight, and a sequence in the second half showed just how tightly these rivals were matched.

With both squads playing at a frenetic pace and showing little regard for defense, the lead changed hands on eight straight possessions as the teams traded baskets.

Stunningly, they combined to score on 19 straight possessions before Georgia’s Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe missed a pair of free throws with 5:17 remaining.

FIRING UP THE CROWD

Perhaps the biggest cheer of the night came when Georgia Tech football coach Brent Key addressed the crowd at halftime.

Key, who served as interim coach for the last eight games of the season, was introduced Monday as the full-time choice for job.

He fired up the fans by getting them to chant “To hell with Georgia” over and over again. When a smattering of Bulldogs fans responded with barks, Key smiled and egged on the Yellow Jackets crowd to drown them out.

He also declared Georgia Tech to be the “greatest school in the entire state, the entire country,” following up his vow the previous day to not back down from the defending national champion and top-ranked Bulldogs.

BIG PICTURE

Georgia: This will be a tough one to swallow for Roberts, who led his team with 16 points and seven assists. The Bulldogs lost despite shooting 53.4% from the field.

Georgia Tech: Four players scored in double figures, and two others players finished with eight points. But it was Kelly, as usual, who had the ball in his hands at the end of a tight game.

UP NEXT

Georgia: After a nearly two-week break, the Bulldogs return to Atlanta on Dec. 18 to face Notre Dame at State Farm Arena in the Holiday Hoopsgiving event.

Georgia Tech: Head to North Carolina on Saturday for the Atlantic Coast Conference opener against the struggling Tar Heels.

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.