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Georgia sophomore Toumani Camara (10) jumps to shoot the ball. The University of Georgia men’s basketball team fell to no. 8 Alabama for their last regular-season game on March 6, 2021, in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/ Kathryn Skeean, kskeean@randb.com)

A lack of rebounding has been a consistent theme for Georgia men’s basketball since SEC play began. The Bulldogs were outrebounded yet again in Saturday’s loss to Alabama in what appeared a winnable game for the Bulldogs.

Georgia’s lead over Alabama swelled to 14 points in a dominant first-half stretch. The Crimson Tide slowly ate into the Bulldog lead with dominant rebounding and timely made shots despite a horribly inefficient opening frame.

“We did not get enough guard rebounds,” said head coach Tom Crean during a virtual postgame press conference. “I mean, that is what that is. You have got to block out better with your bigs and have your guards get the rebounds. That is the number I look at. The difference of who plays the one, two and three for them versus who plays the one, two and three for us. That was the difference.”

Crean has preached all season about how he wants guards to contribute on the glass since Georgia does not have the same size on the roster as other SEC teams.

Sahvir Wheeler has proved he can contribute in rebounding with his 14-point, 13-assist and 11-rebound triple-double against LSU. Against Alabama, however, Wheeler did not record a rebound and K.D. Johnson finished with just one.

The Bulldogs were outrebounded 45-32 overall and were doubled-up on the offensive glass, 14-7. Rebounding numbers took a significant dip when SEC play began. 

Georgia’s three best rebounding games in non-conference play are 49, 48 and 48, whereas the highest in SEC play are 47, 43 and 42. The higher numbers reflect the games where the Bulldogs often matched up well with the size of opposing teams.

“[Alabama] should rebound like that,” Crean said. “They are big, they are athletic, they are really big. But we have got to be able to get in there and get more offensive rebounds but we certainly have to be able to have our guards come in and do a better job at defensive rebounding.”

Neither team had a player with double-digit rebounds but Alabama certainly had better distribution. The Crimson Tide had three players with at least six boards while the Bulldogs had just one: Toumani Camara.

Camara was Georgia’s leading rebounder with seven, but only one was on the offensive end. Andrew Garcia was the lone Bulldog with more than one offensive board. Alabama, on the other hand, had two players with three offensive rebounds and four players had more than one.

Despite the last two losses to South Carolina and Alabama, Georgia has remained optimistic about its chances in next week’s SEC Tournament. Both Wheeler and Johnson said they can take things from their second meeting with Alabama, which was a more competitive affair than the 115-82 loss suffered on Feb. 13.

As it stands now, Georgia will be a 10-seed when the SEC Tournament begins.

“I feel great,” Johnson said. “We had a good game. That is the team that won the league. Us losing by four or five is way better than last time so us closing that deficit, closing out the game with the first half we had, I think If we play like that the whole game we would have a better game but I feel good about the SEC Tournament.”