Georgia tops NC Central, 64-54
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Georgia tops NC Central, 64-54

UGA Basketball
Photo: Olivia Wilson/UGAAA

ATHENS, Ga. — Led by a strong defensive effort, the Georgia men’s basketball team defeated North Carolina Central 64-54 on Sunday afternoon before 5,699 spectators at Stegeman Coliseum.

Three Bulldogs (2-1) reached double figures in scoring on the night led by Jabri Abdur-Rahim with 13 points. The senior leads the team in points per game through three games at 16. Off the bench, Justin Hill scored 11 points and dished out four assists while Silas Demary Jr. had 10 points, four rebounds and a career-best four steals. As a team, Georgia outscored NC Central (1-2) in bench points by a 31-10 margin.

Georgia managed to race out to an early 11-point lead but a trio of 3-pointers from NC Central over the final two minutes of the opening frame to cut the deficit to 27-23 heading into the locker room. The Eagles opened the second half on a 9-2 run to take the lead, but the Bulldogs scored 10-straight points to regain the advantage at 42-34 at the under-12 media timeout. Georgia extended its lead to as many as 15 points after a late 8-0 run sparked by Hill’s third 3-pointer of the day to cap off the victory.

The Bulldogs’ next game will see them travel to Nassau, Bahamas for the Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas Championships, wth Georgia set to take on No. 13 Miami (Fla.) on Nov. 17 at 3:30 p.m. ET. The CBS Sports Network will broadcast the two-game event, with the Bulldogs second contest coming against either Providence or Kansas State.

POST-GAME NOTES

• The starting lineup was graduates Noah Thomasson and Russel Tchewa, junior RJ Melendez, senior Jabri Abdur-Rahim and freshman Silas Demary Jr.
• This is the second all-time meeting between the two programs. Georgia now leads the all-time series 2-0.
• Georgia led 27-23 at halftime.• The Bulldogs held the lead for 16:15 of the first half.
• Georgia went on a 16-2 run across 3:34 in the second half to regain and hold on to the lead for the remainder of the game.
• Georgia’s largest lead was 15 points in the 2nd half.
• The Bulldogs outscored the Eagles in bench points 31-10.
• Georgia had a season-high nine steals as a team.
• 54 points is the lowest scoring total Georgia has held an opponent to since keeping Mississippi State to 50 points on 1/11/2022.

Individual Notes

• Jabri Abdur-Rahim tied his career high with 10 free throws made, marking a new season-high in 2023.
• Blue Cain set a new career high with seven rebounds, which also marks his first time leading the team in rebounds in his career.
• Justin Hill set a new season-high with 11 points off the bench.
• Silas Demary Jr. scored in double figures for the second time in his career, scoring 10 points.
• Jalen DeLoach set new season-highs in points (8), assists (3), and minutes (20) while shooting 4-for-4 from the field on the night.
• Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe set new season-highs in points (6) and minutes (13).
• Silas Demary Jr. set a new career-high with four steals, two of which came in back-to-back possessions in the first 4:30 of the game leading directly to four of his ten points.
• Jabri Abdur-Rahim has led the team in scoring in two of three games this season, after doing so once in 32 games last season. This is the second all-time meeting between the two programs.

POST-GAME QUOTES

Georgia Head Coach Mike White

Opening statement… 

“Found a way. Found a way against a program that as a staff we have a lot of respect for in games over a long period of time. Coach Moton and his staff do a tremendous job. I thought they came in here and were really prepared. They dictated tempo. I thought they played incredibly hard and physical. Took the fight to us, and we are fortunate to come away with the ‘W.”

On if the team overlooked the opponent… 

“If there was, then we are incorrect. We are not good enough to overlook anyone. We are trying to build something here, and our approach should be the same every practice and every game. I thought we got off to a decent start. I really did. I think sometimes when you are playing one of these, and I thought we got a lot out of today because there was a lot to learn from, I think sometimes, especially young guys or new guys, can start thinking about individual aspirations in a game that they maybe for whatever reason you can win by double figures and could maybe get a few more minutes or shots. It’s something that you address 48 hours ago, and then again yesterday, and then again this morning, and then again at every media timeout. We weren’t quite as connected, of course, as we were a couple of nights ago. The ball didn’t move as it did, but again I thought Central had a lot to do with that. Their wallops at the rim were very physical. Their block outs were really physical. Their attacking of the offensive glass early in the game I thought was a really big factor. Even when they fell behind eight or 10 early, their consistency was really impressive throughout the game.”

On if the lack of ball movement contributed to Georgia’s scoring slump… 

“Yeah, ball movement is probably more than shot selection. I don’t think we just took a handful of bad shots, we took some average ones. We got less possessions of course and those guys shortened the game on us and they did a great job of it and they played the late clock a bunch. So, each possession becomes a little bit more important to you. It’s the first time it’s happened to us. All of the sudden your decisions become a little more important and when you make some subpar ones, they get magnified and before you know it you’ve gone four or five minutes where you’ve come up empty. I liked our ball movement versus zone late and eventually with them denying passes and extending, to a certain extent we just had to put our head down and guys like Justin Hill stepped up and made some plays for us late.”

On message to the team after slow start…

“I thought we looked a little bit rattled after we missed a few really good looks early. We didn’t play as confidently as we needed to play. We’re always preaching, next play, next shot, let’s control the quality of the shot rather than the result. After we had some negative results I thought it became mental for us. We have got to be stronger moving forward.”

On what he saw from Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe… 

“He’s great. The first thing I look at is the plus-minus after the game, he was plus 16, for a guy that barely got in the past game. He’s just ready to play. I thought he provided a presence in terms of cutting, and running the floor offensively and defensively I thought we had a bunch of good possessions with him on the court.”

On what he learned about the team after a long week… 

“I learned that we have a ways to go, but that we’re capable of beating an ACC team. But, also when we’re not firing on all cylinders a major program is going to be really competitive against us. So we’ve got a pretty wide spectrum right now.”

On the key to turning the game around…

“Each team is different and I thought we were a little bit lethargic at times today and we’ll reevaluate everything we did yesterday and this morning. We’ve actually just started talking about it in the coach’s locker room. That said, whoever we play on Sunday will have our guys’ attention immediately. If we’re not really fired up about that opponent on Sunday then something bigger is there, but I can’t foresee that happening. How much mentally you do and how much physically you do is really team-to-team depending on guys’ minutes as well and also how complex the next scout is or how much you really want to dive into it, how much you want to sell out to mentality, and how much you want to rest versus spending two hours in there, offensively and defensively going over everything they do, so we’re trying to hit a happy medium.”

#4 | Silas Demary Jr. | Fr. | G

On tonight’s game against NC Central… 

“We were just talking about getting the stops today. The shots weren’t falling. They played a tough game and contested our shots all the way down the line. In the end, we just faced a little adversity. It was stops the whole game. That’s all we had to do.”

On Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe’s performance…

“He’s been waiting for his number to be called. He didn’t play the last game, so it was good for him to always be ready to come in. He came off the bench and gave us a few points, a few blocks, some rebounds. It was big for him to come off the bench for us.”

On his comfort level after three games played… 

“I’m definitely homing in on my skills. Knowing that I’m working out enough, trusting in myself, asking my coaches questions. Those are the guys that are leading me to be comfortable on the floor and comfortable doing myself. Just leaving it all to them, and the older guys, as well, to just keep me confident. I feel like all of that all together has made me more comfortable even though this is just my third game.”

#12 | Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe | Sr. | F

On showing younger players to be ready when called on… 

“Everybody wants to win. We’re playing high-level dudes every night. Whether its the number one team in the country or a mid-major or low-major team we got to come in with the same mentality. We just got to play to our standard. That’s my biggest takeaway.”

On his impact playing against NC Central… 

“It was fun. I just had fun out there. Just staying ready, the biggest thing is keeping a good mindset going in and just affecting the game any way I could. I thought I did that a little bit tonight, but definitely got to execute better.”

On any takeaways from tonight’s victory over NC Central…

“Like I said earlier, I don’t think we started the game with the right energy and mentality. They’re a really good team, so no matter who we’re playing, whether it’s the best team in the country or whoever, just approach the game with the same mentality and start the game off right.”

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