Auburn and Georgia meet, seeking first SEC win

NCAA Men's Basketball

The Georgia Bulldogs and visiting Auburn Tigers are both looking for their first Southeastern Conference victory Wednesday night when they meet in Athens, Ga.

Georgia has lost all three of its SEC games after going 7-0 in non-league play and was off to its best start since the 1982-83 season, the only time the Bulldogs reached the Final Four. The Bulldogs are 7-32 in regular-season SEC play under coach Tom Crean, who arrived before the 2018-19 season.

Auburn is 0-4 in the conference after entering league play on a five-game winning streak. But the Tigers should be bolstered by freshman point guard Sharife Cooper, who made his debut Saturday after he was ruled eligible by the NCAA earlier in the week. He had game highs of 26 points and nine assists in a 94-90 loss to Alabama.

Auburn led 84-82 with 4:43 to play, but Alabama took a 93-90 advantage on Jordan Bruner’s layup with a minute remaining. Auburn missed 3-point shots on its next two possessions, and Jaden Shackelford hit a free throw with 22 seconds left for a four-point lead before Auburn turned the ball over.

“Once again, we gave ourselves a chance,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl told the Montgomery Advertiser. “Probably going to look back as a missed opportunity because I think Alabama was down their point guard (Jahvon Quinerly), and having Sharife back was an advantage because there was no tape on him, so you couldn’t anticipate what he was going to do.”

Cooper strengthens an Auburn backcourt that already featured three of the team’s top four scorers in Allen Flanigan (14 points per game, 5.2 rebounds), Justin Powell (11.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and Jamal Johnson (10.7 ppg).

Georgia was routed in its most recent outing. Its 99-69 loss at Arkansas was the Bulldogs’ 11th loss in their past 12 SEC road games dating to the 2018-19 season.

“I didn’t like our spirit and energy, and I think it affected us on both ends,” Crean told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It was effort-related. I didn’t have a lot of foot soldiers with me today.”

The Bulldogs couldn’t stop Arkansas’ Moses Moody, who scored a career-high 25 points, as the Razorbacks put four players in double figures.

The Bulldogs will rely on an attack that features six players who average in double figures: Toumani Camara (14.3 ppg), Sahvir Wheeler (13.7), Justin Kier (11.8), Andrew Garcia (10.6), P.J. Horne (10.5) and Tye Fagan (10.2).

Both teams have struggled taking care of the ball. Auburn ranks 318th out of 338 Division I teams in turnovers, averaging 17.2 a game, while Georgia has been even worse, averaging 18.1 a game, which ranks 331st.

–Field Level Media

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