Georgia falls to George Mason, 80-67
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Georgia falls to George Mason, 80-67

UGA Basketball
Photo: Tony Walsh/UGA

ATHENS, Ga. – Returning to the court following the fall finals break, the University of Georgia men’s basketball team dropped an 80-67 contest to George Mason Saturday evening before 6,432 spectators at Stegeman Coliseum.

Senior Braelen Bridges led Georgia (4-6) in scoring for the sixth time this season with 13 points and tied with junior Dalen Ridgnal for the team lead in rebounds with seven. Senior Noah Baumann tallied 11 points with three 3-pointers, his highest scoring output as a Bulldog. For the evening, the Bulldogs shot 33.9 percent from the field.

“We got it to a two-possession game,” said Georgia head coach Tom Crean following the game. “The problem for us, at times, was that we didn’t follow the game plan and defensively. That just can’t happen. We can’t be bumping the cross screen one time and not bumping it the next time. It has to be consistent. It has to be ongoing.”

George Mason (6-5) immediately set the tone with a 3-pointer from Davonte Gaines in the opening minute, foreshadowing their success from beyond the arc. Powered by Gaines, the Patriots unfurled a 14-0 run, rattling off a 19-4 run by the 14-minute mark of the first half.

Georgia responded with eight unanswered points, including a pair of baskets from Bridges, but the burst was short-lived as D’Shawn Schwartz countered with three-consecutive triples to extend the lead to 16. Following the final media break of the half, the Bulldogs narrowed the margin to six with three straight 3-pointers from sophomore Jabri Abdur-Rahim and Baumann, eventually heading to the locker room trailing 38-30.

The Patriots again opened the second half connecting from outside as Gaines and Schwartz continued to pace their offense. Oquendo returned the deficit to single-digits with an old-fashioned 3-point play, but George Mason’s Josh Oduro responded with one of his own to reinforce the advantage. Despite the Bulldogs’ efforts to cut in, the Patriot lead hovered around 10 for much of the half.

Following the under-8 timeout, a 6-1 Bulldog run brought them to within six, but George Mason hit two quick threes to go back up by 12 at the 3:56 mark. Now in the bonus, Georgia was able to reach the foul line consistently in the final moments, but the margin was too great to overcome as George Mason sealed the win.

Georgia remains home for a matchup against Western Carolina on Monday, Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. at Stegeman Coliseum. The game will be streamed live on SEC Network+.

POST-GAME NOTES

• Tonight’s game marks the first ever meeting between the Bulldogs and Patriots.

• Nearing Milestones – Graduate Aaron Cook tallied five assists, he is 32 assists away from reaching the 400 career assist mark and 22 steals away from registering his 200th.

• Persistent Pair – Georgia used its fifth different starting lineup tonight, redshirt-senior Braelen Bridges and sophomore Kario Oquendo are the only two Bulldogs to start every game this season.

• Season Night – Graduate Noah Baumann recorded a season-high 11 points and 21 minutes played tonight.

• Old Faces – George Mason associate head coach Dennis Felton made his return to Athens. Felton served as the Bulldogs head coach for six seasons, winning the 2008 SEC Tournament Championship and reaching the NCAA Tournament.

POST-GAME QUOTES

GEORGIA HEAD COACH TOM CREAN

On the absence of Jailyn Ingram…
“I don’t know. Now we have a game under our belt without him. There’s no question that it was different, but that’s what we have now. Our guys have got to understand that this is our team. Outside of the onslaught at the beginning, which 19-4, I don’t feel like we’re not going to come back whatsoever. We did. We got it to a two-possession game. The problem for us, at times, was that we didn’t follow the game plan and defensively. That just can’t happen. We can’t be bumping the cross screen one time and not bumping it the next time. It has to be consistent. It has to be ongoing. No excuses, that’s where we miss Jailyn (Ingram) with the talk. We have to be more physical. We have to be more tuned in to what we have to do awareness-wise and game plan-wise. We’re not in position. The hardest thing in basketball is to keep playing really hard and really good defense if you’re shot isn’t falling. We have to overcome that because we’re going to make shots. I know we didn’t make a ton tonight, but we’re going to make shots. The ball is going to move. Our spacing is going to change a little bit now because we will play Noah (Baumann) more. We will play Dalen (Ridgnal) more. It was the first time that the guys were in the roles that they were in today. I’m more concerned with the process of the lack of the attention to the detail of what we needed to do in the game plan that I am anything else. We have to continue to find leadership in uncommon ways and uncommon places, which means guys that may not be comfortable doing that may not have a choice. This is not a comfortable environment. You don’t get to be comfortable in college basketball. You have to be on it. You have to find your voice. You have to bring your will to others. You have to help bring your drive and determination because we’re playing really hard and we’re doing a lot of really good things, but you have to bring others with you. There’s got to be a contagiousness of belief. That’s where we have to get better. Frankly, that’s where we miss Jailyn (Ingram) big time in that. That’s what we have to learn now.”

On Dalen Ridgnal…
“He will, there’s no doubt about it. This is the first time, again, the first time we played in 11 days, and we played without our best player, or a guy that was maybe our most consistent player. So again, everybody’s roles got enhanced. We fully expected Jailyn (Ingram) when we signed him to be a real contributor here, but he missed a lot of time with injury. He missed a lot of time and then he got hurt again. So again, he’s not injured now, but he doesn’t have that rhythm yet and tonight’s a good start on that because he’s a natural rebounder. He can make shots, he’s got a good a range as anybody on the team, but we also got to find a way to get him to the foul line. We’ve got to find a way to get him around the basket and that’s what we are going to have to spend some time doing now.”

On adjusting the roster…
“Adjustments are always ongoing. They’re ongoing in practice. They’re ongoing in the game. It’s not like somebody is coming into the program tomorrow we are going to put in the lineup on Monday. So, we just got to keep getting better at what we are doing and learn from this and move forward. So, most important day for us is not Monday night. The most important day for us is tomorrow because we got to get better tomorrow before we play Monday night, then Monday becomes the most important day. But that’s the only way you can do it, you make adjustments constantly, you have flexibility, you don’t panic. You just keep getting guys confidently better and that’s why I’m not real worked up about the offense, I’m worked up about what we didn’t take care of defensively, that we did at times and didn’t do at other times. And we are not good enough with the margin of error that we have to not be consistent in every area.”

GEORGIA GRADUATE NOAH BAUMANN

On what the team needs to work on…
“Quick turnaround, but I think the impact that Jailyn (Ingram) had on our team showed a little bit tonight. The whole last couple of weeks when we were preparing for this game, we had 11 days off, I sort of made it my own duty that I wanted to help this team out as much as I could. If I had to step in and play the four, which I haven’t played for a while, I want to do that, and I want to help this team win as much as possible. We had a really bad start, lackadaisical. A lot of it’s on my part. I let my man get a quick eight (points). I think we just got in a hole, and I think we were just fighting the whole game. When you have a good team that’s well-oiled, and you have great shooters with (D’Shawn) Schwartz and a really good big man, they just had a tempo that we just didn’t break. Carrying on for us, when we’re down like that, we just have to disrupt that as much as possible. At times, there’s people that need to step up in certain situations. A bad start, but it’s something that we’ll learn and take forward for the next two games coming up.”

On playing power forward…
“As a four, you just got to be more up top, playing Jailyn’s position. He’s played a little bit of a facilitator for us, which is always aggressive. I watched a little bit of film about him and just watched how he approached the game. I try to do a little bit of that, but, at the same time, I know that I am a spot up shooter and need to be ready to shoot. Like I said before, I think we just got in such of a hole, and we were just trying to claw and fight our way back. We just couldn’t disrupt their flow at all. We had a couple of spurts, a couple of runs here and there, because basketball is a game of runs. We got it down to like three or four almost going into the second half, but they would just get spurts of six quick points, eight quick points, and then we’re looking at the scoreboard and thinking ‘What just happened?’. I just think those mental lapses for us needs to be broken up as soon as possible. It’s Division I basketball. Everyone is playing well. It’s the middle of the season, so everyone’s getting in a grove. We just got to do better.”

On playing a bigger role tonight…
“That’s why I came here. I came here to play and help the team win games. At the start of the season, I got sick and couldn’t play in that little tournament that we had. I think I just had to take a step back and thought that what I was doing was not enough for the team. That little moment where I wasn’t playing a whole lot, it was big for my development. I thought that I had to do a lot more that what I think I’m doing. I hit some shots. That’s great, but what I hear from the coaching and what they’re always harping on me for is defense. They know I can shoot, but, at the end of the day, the other side of the ball was a lot more important tonight, for sure. The little details that we’ve been preaching in practice the last four days. I made some shots, and that’s great, but my big thing at this point in my career is being consistent. Next game, same mentality, but defense, I have to pick it up. As a team, we’re going to bring some fire to the next game, because this isn’t Georgia basketball. That’s not what we do.”

GEORGIA REDSHIRT-SENIOR BRAELEN BRIDGES

On adjusting without Jailyn Ingram…
“Jailyn (Ingram) obviously brought a lot of versatility and physicality. He did a little bit of everything – he can guard the one through five basically. We’re just trying to replace him with Noah (Baumann) obviously, he’s stepped up with a lot of aggression. Dalen (Ridgnal), he had a pretty good game I would say, rebounding and shooting the ball. We’re just instilling confidence into everybody and just trying to making sure people can take his place.”

On the difference in the game…
“In the rebounding department, I think it’s a team thing. We can all box out, make sure we box out our man. Tonight, I think it was just missed assignments, letting (D’Shawn) Schwartz get transition threes, wide open threes or they ran the same play three times in a row. We got (Josh) Oduro on the back cut which was who I was guarding, so I could’ve guarded him better. I felt like we did good in the first half on him, he only had like seven (points) I think, but we let him get going in the second half. We just relaxed too much.”

On how the 11-day break affected the team’s rhythm…
“We’ve been going very hard even on those days off. But nothing can be like the game. I guess you could say a game is totally different from practice even though we’ve been going hard. I felt like we’ve been having good days up to this point but nothing can be like the game. I guess you can say so.”

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