Unhappy Sahvir

Georgia sophomore Sahvir Wheeler (2) walks around the court. The University of Georgia men’s basketball team faced Auburn and lost by a score of 95-77 on Jan. 13, 2021 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/ Kathryn Skeean, kskeean@randb.com)

The Georgia men’s basketball team lost to Auburn 95-77 on Wednesday at Stegeman Coliseum. The Bulldogs are now 7-4 after their fourth straight loss to open conference play. Here are some observations from The Red & Black:

Georgia's poor shooting performance

The shots fell all night for Auburn as Georgia had a near-polar opposite showing. The Tigers shot over 50% against an inefficient Georgia group. The Bulldogs shot 4-for-12 to begin the game (33.3%) and their performance improved only slightly from there.

Georgia finished the game shooting 28-for-67, a 41.8% clip. Auburn finished the night over the 50% threshold, which is something Georgia does not often allow. The Bulldogs have held opponents to an average of 42.4% shooting prior to their meeting with Auburn.

Georgia was unable to keep up with the consistent shot-making of Auburn from the start. The Bulldogs’ poor start and a crucial 13-1 run early in the second half kicked off the Tigers’ dominance as the game wore down.

“We would get a couple baskets, we would get a couple stops and then we would make a mistake,” said head coach Tom Crean. “I think it is a combination of not bearing down and what I have not liked over the last couple games is that we lose a little belief that we can win the game.”

Fast break scoring was another issue for the Bulldogs. Georgia was outscored 29-13 in transition and suffered through 14 blocked shots. The Bulldogs were often fouled in transition but free throws were a challenge on their own.

Constant foul trouble

Georgia was forced to play significant stretches of the first half without some of its most important players. Six Bulldog players had at least two fouls at the 17:37 mark of the second half, with four of those being starters.

Thirteen fouls at halftime set the Bulldogs on a pace to exceed their season average of 20.2 fouls per game. Fouls were not as much of an issue for Georgia in the second half but the ramifications of the first-half barrage were felt throughout the game.

Starting forward P.J. Horne picked up his third foul in the opening minutes of the second period, forcing a quick substitution. Sahvir Wheeler and Toumani Camara also picked up their third fouls with enough time remaining to limit their aggressiveness. Camara fouled out of the game with 2:14 remaining, and Wheeler followed by fouling out as well shortly after.

Freshmen leading the way

Sharife Cooper and J.T. Thor dazzled in Auburn’s efficient offensive outing. Cooper exploded for 28 points and 12 assists while Thor added 11 points and eight rebounds in just 15 minutes of play.

Cooper is proving his stock as a 5-star recruit after missing Auburn’s first 11 games this season. He scored 26 points with nine assists and four rebounds in the Tigers’ last game, a 94-90 loss to Alabama.

Georgia freshman K.D. Johnson made his season debut tonight after missing the Bulldogs’ first 10 games as a result of academic ineligibility. A four-star recruit in the 2020 recruiting class, Johnson made his presence felt all over the floor, contributing 21 points, seven rebounds, four steals and two blocks.

“He played with juice, he played with life and he played with passion and that is definitely something we are going to need,” Wheeler said. “Now we have to get guys to get used to him so we all can put it together. We complement each other really well.”