The Georgia men’s basketball team fell to Missouri, 71-61, in the SEC Tournament on Wednesday night in Nashville, Tenn., at the Bridgestone Arena.
Junior guard Jordan Harris led the Bulldogs, scoring a career-high 26 points to squash his previous scoring record of 18. Harris knocked down 8-of-11 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line while also finishing with a perfect 3-for-3 performance behind the arc.
Senior Derek Ogbeide and sophomore Nicolas Claxton finished with double-digit performances, as well, adding 12 and 11 points, respectively. Claxton matched his career-best in blocks for the third time with six.
“Our team played with tremendous fight tonight, [and with] spirit and tenacity, especially playing this team a week ago and knowing that we didn't leave it all out there on the floor against them,” Georgia head coach Tom Crean said. “At the end of the day, the free-throw shooting was the biggest difference. We wanted to get to the free-throw line and to attack the rim, and we did. I'm proud of the way these guys have continued to come back. It hasn't always been pretty, and it certainly hasn't been easy, but they've continued to improve. Every time that we had to answer in a practice, or come back and know that our pride had been challenged, or we didn't do everything we needed to do to give ourselves the best chance, they responded. Unfortunately, we just didn't have enough good results, but we did have the effort.”
Georgia scored the first basket of the game, but Missouri went on a 6-0 run to take the 6-2 advantage. While the Tigers managed to extend their lead to seven points midway through the first half, the Bulldogs scored six points at the free-throw line to trail by only one point (19-18). Georgia then went on a 7-0 run, sparked by Ogbeide and Claxton, to take the 27-24 lead and the Bulldogs’ first lead in nearly 10 minutes. Georgia maintained the lead for the remainder of the half, though neither team led by more than seven points during the first 20 minutes. A Claxton free throw sent the Bulldogs into the locker room with a 34-32 lead over the Tigers.
Coming out after the half, Missouri knocked down three-straight baskets for the 43-39 advantage. Though an Ogbeide free throw tied it at 43-all, the Bulldogs were unable to regain the lead. The Tigers proceeded to go on a 6-0 run, causing Georgia to trail, 49-43. With less than four minutes remaining, Missouri extended its lead to 10 (60-50), making it the first double-digit deficit of the entire game. Harris and Ogbeide got the Bulldogs within eight points of the Tigers three times in the last few minutes. However, Missouri fought back to take a double-digit lead and the 71-61 victory.