Baton Rouge, La. – A game of back and forth would ultimately be decided in the closing seconds of overtime as the University of Georgia men’s basketball team came just short against LSU 94-92 in the team’s first road game of the season at the Maravich Assembly Center.
Graduate Justin Kier shined for the Bulldogs, leading the way with 25 points, a season-high and his tenth career 20+ point game, first at Georgia. Kier also made a career-high six 3-pointers and is the first Bulldog to make six 3-pointers in a game since Anthony Edwards vs. Florida on Feb. 5, 2020.
Followed right behind by Kier was sophomore Sahvir Wheeler with 21, also a season high. Fellow sophomore Toumani Kamara finished with 14 and 10 rebounds, his fourth of the season. Graduate P.J. Horne ended his night with 11.
The Bulldogs outpaced the Tigers 28-3 in fast break points, and made 12 3-pointers, which is tied for the most 3-pointers made under Crean while at Georgia. Tonight was the ninth time under Coach Crean that Georgia had over 10 steals and the fifth time this season. Previously, the Bulldogs had four in two seasons combined.
“We are learning and understanding that we can come out here and compete for our first road,” Head Coach Tom Crean said. “We can compete, we can play hard, we can play tough, we can get our speed going, we can make big plays, but we can also make mistakes and we have to overcome those.”
From the tip, both teams were eager for action as LSU opened the game with a Watford layup, which was immediately followed by a Fagan slam. A 10-3 Tiger run broken up by a Wheeler 3-pointer would ensue and LSU would continue to keep their lead before 3-pointers by Wheeler and Horne cut the Tiger lead to three at the under-12 timeout. The combined scoring efforts of Andrew Garcia and Christian Brown would give Georgia its first lead of the game. The Tigers would not go down quietly, hitting back to back 3-pointers to give them their second largest lead of the game. The Bulldogs would bounce back before the Tigers hit a run of their own that gave them another seven-point lead, tying their largest of the game. An 8-0 run, going 5-5 would be how the first half of the back and forth affair would end, tied at 42.
The back and forth continued into the second half, but the Bulldogs would first strike and jump out to a 5-0 run after Horne’s third 3-pointer of the night and a Fagan lay-up. LSU followed up with a run of their own, retaking the lead. Lead changes would be the theme for a bulk of the second-half, eight times the one-point lead would go back and forth before Kier slams an and-1, making the free throw compiled with a Wheeler jumper to make the lead four just at the 12-minute mark. Georgia would go on a 13-2 run over the next four-minutes including a stretch going 6 of 6 with Kier hitting two 3-pointers and a slam to give the Bulldogs their biggest lead of the game at 10. That lead quickly shrunk as LSU would go on an 8-0 run of their own to whittle the lead to two. Another 5-0 run gave the Bulldogs a little more breathing room at the four-minute mark. Georgia’s defense would come alive in the closing minutes of the game, holding the prolific LSU offense scoreless for over five-minutes before a Javonte Smart 3-pointer ends the drought. Another Smart three, tied the game with just under a minute remaining. Two missed 3-pointers by both teams and a full court heave by Kier off the rim sent the game to overtime tied at 80.
Continuing the theme of regulation, overtime was a back and forth affair that saw numerous free-throw attempts and one-point leads. LSU Darius Days would hit a 3-pointer that pushed an LSU lead to four before Wheeler makes one of two free-throws to cut the lead to three, but another set of free throws by LSU’s Trendon Watford would push the lead to its largest, five. Some more back and forth eventually saw the Bulldogs down one after a Wheeler lay-up with 15-second remaining. Cameron Thomas would miss his first free-throw of the evening but makes the second to put the Tigers up 94-92 and that would be just enough as a missed contested lay-up by Kier would seal the win for LSU.
The Bulldogs will now prepare for another road matchup against Arkansas on Saturday, Jan. 9 with television coverage provided by SEC Network. Tip-off is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
COURTESY UGA ATHLETICS