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Georgia guard Donnell Gresham (0) celebrates with Tye Fagan (14). The Georgia Bulldogs defeated SMU in double overtime with a final score of 87-85 on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Ryan Cameron rcameron@randb.com)

The Georgia men’s basketball team started off 2020 with the most significant win of the Tom Crean era against No. 9 Memphis on the road. The Bulldogs competed shot-for-shot with the Tigers and completed the 65-62 upset to move to 10-3.

Georgia hit an uncharacteristic 10 3-pointers against the Tigers. Coupled with solid defense, rebounding and free throw shooting down the stretch, the Bulldogs finished off a decisive upset before starting SEC play against No. 17 Kentucky on Jan. 7 in Athens.

Memphis’ Precious Achiuwa had no trouble finding offense, but the Bulldogs were able to keep head coach Penny Hardaway’s ancillary scorers in check. Georgia also had important performances from Donnell Gresham Jr. and Sahvir Wheeler, who combined for four 3-pointers and gave the Bulldogs an extra step up in the victory.

Here are some observations from The Red & Black: 

Matching bucket for bucket

Going into halftime, the Tigers and Bulldogs were knotted at 37. Georgia was able to match baskets with Memphis’ superior shooters in the first half, despite the threat of the game getting away from the Bulldogs.

Coming into Saturday, Memphis was ranked No. 103 in 3-point field goal percentage. Georgia was ranked No. 298. In the first half, however, Georgia was able to outshoot the Tigers from behind the arc and maintain a balanced game. The Bulldogs shot 5-for-10, while Memphis shot 5-for-13. It’s a small margin, but crucial 3-pointers from Toumani Camara, Christian Brown and Wheeler kept Memphis and its home crowd at bay.

The Bulldogs also won the turnover battle six to nine, which they have struggled to do through the first 12 games. Georgia made more from its opportunities, scoring 11 points off turnovers in the first half.

The beginning of the second half showcased more of the same. Georgia went down by eight points in the first four minutes of the second half. The Bulldogs picked up two pivotal 3-pointers from Anthony Edwards and Gresham and eventually retook the lead.

The theme extended all the way to the final whistle, with Georgia finishing with 10 3-pointers from 22 tries. Memphis attempted 22 as well but only made seven.

Disparity from the charity stripe

After averaging nearly 30 attempts through the first four games of the season, Georgia hadn’t shot more than 13 free throws in the last three games leading up to the matchup with Memphis. And once again, the Bulldogs didn’t surpass 13 tries from the stripe.

The Bulldogs finished with 11 attempts and made seven of them. On the other hand, Memphis took 20 free throws and made 11. If the Tigers were more efficient from the line, the score could have been vastly different.

Three who mattered

Anthony Edwards: The star freshman garnered a lot of defensive attention from the Tigers on Saturday. Memphis threw double teams and different defensive looks to hinder Edwards’ offensive game, but he was still able to make an impact. He finished with 13 points, five rebounds and four assists, but the attention he brought opened up the game for his teammates.

Rayshaun Hammonds: Another game, another crucial performance from the junior. Despite being in foul trouble for the majority of the game, Hammonds brought effective rebounding, defense and offense to the floor. He finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds, three steals, two assists and a block.

Precious Achiuwa: The five-star freshman forward was a constant thorn in the side for Georgia. His physical presence put Hammonds and Camara in foul trouble, and he brought down five offensive boards, a game high. Achiuwa finished with 20 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks and three steals.

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