Tchewa’s buzzer-beater tops LSU
ATHENS, Ga. – The Georgia men’s basketball team escaped LSU after Russel Tchewa hit the game-winning bucket with just 2.3 seconds remaining to secure the win, 68-66, before 9,243 spectators on Wednesday evening inside Stegeman Coliseum.
Tchewa’s heroics also included a double-double effort, as he tallied 11 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks on the night. Silas Demary Jr. led the team in scoring with 15 points and a pair of steals, while Noah Thomasson also contributed 11 points. The Bulldogs (14-5, 4-2 SEC) outscored the Tigers (11-8, 3-3 SEC) in paint points, 32-22, and are now 3-0 in games decided by three points or fewer this season.
Despite seven turnovers in the first 8:30 of the game, the Bulldogs managed to keep the game close in the first half, leading 35-33 with 11 points from Demary Jr. heading into the locker room. RJ Melendez opened the second half with an authoritative dunk in transition to grow the team’s advantage to eight points, forcing a Tigers’ timeout. Headed into the under-eight media timeout, the Bulldogs maintained a 57-52 lead following Thomasson’s second 3-pointer of the evening. Georgia led by as many as nine with just over five minutes to go, but LSU managed to pull it within two points with two minutes remaining. The Tigers’ Jalen Cook converted a three-point play to give his team a one-point lead with 17 seconds remaining. After getting the ball back, Jabri Abdur-Rahim took an open 3-pointer that was slightly off the mark, but Tchewa hauled in the offensive rebound and sank a second-chance opportunity and the ensuing free throw to confirm the win with 2.3 seconds left. The victory gave the Bulldogs their eighth win in the last inside Stegeman Coliseum versus the Tigers.
Georgia will continue conference play in Gainesville, Fla., on Saturday, Jan. 27 at noon ET against Florida inside the Stephen O’Connell Center. The game will be nationally broadcast on ESPN2. The Bulldogs will be looking for their first win against the Gators since 2019.
Five Fast Facts
• Silas Demary Jr., who had 15 points to lead Georgia, finished the night 6-for-6 from the free throw line to improve to 31-for-36 from the charity stripe over the last four games.
• Russel Tchewa’s 11-point, 11-rebound effort marked the 11th double-double of his career and the second of this season. 11 rebounds also tied his season high.
• Georgia’s win over LSU marked the second time this season the Bulldogs had more turnovers than assists and won the game. The Bulldogs are 2-3 when holding a negative assist-to-turnover ratio.
• Wednesday’s game marked the 119th meeting between Georgia and LSU, with the Bulldogs now winning their 30th game in Athens.
• RJ Melendez, who had nine points on 3-of-4 shooting from the field, is now 13-of-19 on field goal attempts in the last three games.
Head Coach Mike White: “It’s not going to be easy to win in this league and the SEC is the best defensive league in college basketball. It seems like every time we play a team, we say they are one of the best defenses in our league. Who doesn’t guard you at a very high level in this league? LSU is rebuilding and we are rebuilding and tonight it was just two teams fighting it out. We can say it was ugly or a grind, but really it was ten guys out on the court that were throwing haymakers. It was a high-level game of intensity. I know everybody that played in this game is going to be tired. It was a competitive, high-level game.”
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- The starting lineup was graduates Noah Thomasson, RJ Sunahara, Russel Tchewa, senior Jabri Abdur-Rahim, and freshman Silas Demary Jr.
- Georgia had a 35-33 lead at the half.
- Three Georgia players scored in double figures: Silas Demary Jr. with 15 and Noah Thomasson and Russel Tchewa with 11.
- Georgia’s largest lead was nine points in the second half.
- The Bulldogs are 3-0 in games decided by three points or fewer this season (2-2 last season).
- Georgia finished the first half 11-for-14 from the field after starting 3-for-13 shooting.
- The Bulldogs outscored the Tigers on the bench 22-14.
- Georgia won the battle in the paint, outscoring LSU 32-22 on the night.
- Russel Tchewa posted his 11th career double-double with 11 points and 11 boards, marking his second double-double this season.
- Russel Tchewa matched his season-high in rebounds with 11 boards on the night.
- Silas Demary Jr. led the Bulldogs in scoring on the night with 15 points, avergaing 16.3 points-per-game in his last four games.
- Silas Demary Jr. has reached double-digit scoring in six of his last seven games.
- With his lone 3-pointer on the night, Jabri Abdur-Rahim has now made 47 shots from behind the arc in 19 games (46 3-pointers through 32 games last season.
Georgia Head Coach Mike White
“It was a great win for us. You take anyone you can get in this league, home or away. LSU is really good. We are really fortunate to have won. They had a chance to down the stretch, they kept fighting and fighting. They were tremendous defensively. The play at the end of the game, wow, what a pass. It could’ve gone either way. Obviously, we are really fortunate and excited. We have to move on quickly because here comes another one at noon in a couple days.”
On the effort on the last possession…
“It was huge. We want to play downhill, and we had one. Justin Hill has made plays for us obviously and the ball is going to be in his hands, and more to come moving forward. We have other guys too that we trust down the stretch, but we just tried to get downhill and thought if we were neutralized, we can use one. We ended up getting a couple looks there and Russ [Russel Tchewa] made an enormous play obviously, and he converted at the foul line as well. Huge play by Russ.”
On RJ Melendez’s strong game off the bench and momentum building dunk…
“He’s really competitive. In transition? He’s got good length, the ability to run through passes, and he’s really fast. His first few steps there, whether he gets the ball or receives a pitch ahead, especially off of turnovers or long rebounds, he’s just out. He’s a fast player and he’s got a nose for the rim in transition. He had a drive in the half court as well where he drew fouls and he’s converting at the foul line as well. He’s a guy like Justin Hill that plays starter minutes and produces like a starter. He’s a good player.”
On how the crowd has impacted the game…
“It was awesome. I absolutely see it. We were much better in the second half defensively and I thought that had a lot to do with our fans. It got loud in there and I’m really appreciative.”
On how Georgia grinded out the game and how it compares to his teams at Florida…
“Yeah definitely. Again in order to be in the conversation we’ve got to win a lot more but it’s certainly better than the alternative. It’s not going to be easy in this league and it’s the best defensive league in college basketball. It seems like every time we play a team we say they are one of the best defenses in our league too. Who doesn’t guard you at a very high level in this league? They are rebuilding and we are rebuilding and it was just two teams fighting it out. We can say it was ugly or a grind but really it was ten guys out on the court that were throwing haymakers. It was a high-level game of intensity. I know everybody that played in this game is going to be tired. It was a competitive high-level game.”
On the bubble drill at practice and how that has helped the teams rebounding…
“Yeah, it’s an apparatus that we put up on the rim so you can’t score. The ball comes off a piece of plastic sitting on the rim. It can’t give you a lot of shooting confidence, but it helps you become a better rebounding team. It has helped us in the past month.”
“#4 | Silas Demary Jr. | Fr. | G
On Russel Tchewa’s winning putback…
“It was a big play. We ask Russel to do a lot, he crashes every time on the offensive end, we ask him to get defensive rebounds, he does a lot for us. I feel like that’s big for him to get that, it boosts his confidence. He’s really good and it gives him a lot of confidence in himself. I feel like that’s really good for him right now, especially going into our schedule over the next couple of weeks.”
On his determination to get to the basket tonight…
“I feel like if I can get to the paint as many times as I can, once I start converting guys are going to start having to help. That opens up shots for Jabri, Russ, Noah, it helps everybody.”
On his offensive growth during SEC play…
“I feel like mainly it’s just been my confidence. My coaches believe in me, my teammates believe in me, it was just a matter of time and I started believing in myself. So, believing in myself and knowing I put in the work everyday and knowing my coaches and teammates want me to be the best me every game.”
#54 | Russel Tchewa | Gr. | C
On what was going through his head during his game-winning shot…
“You know, just emotion man, it was a good play, good rebound.”
On what it takes to win close games…
“In the glass, you have to rebound the ball. You got to be focused on the game plan and you got to be able to switch defense. I think we went five when we switched everything the last two or three minutes of the game, so I think that’s what made the change.”
On how he will celebrate the win…
“We are going to celebrate this tonight and focus on Florida starting tomorrow.”
On what happened on his final play…
“After every shot, I’m just going to the glass, so I’m just doing what I’m doing every day in practice. I did my job, went to the glass trying to get a rebound, and went back and put it up.”
LSU Head Coach Matt McMahon
On his team’s performance…
“I thought our guys showed great resilience throughout the game, got down multiple times, kept playing, kept fighting, and really competed at a high level. Always had a run in us to get back into the game, guys really made some big time plays in that last minute down the stretch to get us a lead.”
On what impacted his team in the game…
“We shot the ball extremely well from three. We really struggled in the paint to finish plays. Credit to Georgia, they had a lot to do with that.”
On what he thought his team did well against Georgia…
“I thought defensively we did a great job forcing turnovers. It was good to see that back for us forcing 18 turnovers and get nine steals. Then we turned it over 16 times ourselves and thought some of them were forced. Every possession is so significant in a high level game like this.”