Georgia’s Sahvir Wheeler drove through the paint for a game-winning layup with less than a second left in the game at the end of double overtime, claiming a narrow 87-85 victory for Georgia over Southern Methodist University in Stegeman Coliseum on Friday night. Here are some observations from The Red & Black:
Five more minutes — and then five more
At the end of regulation, Georgia and SMU were tied 68-68. With 1.8 seconds left to play, Rayshaun Hammonds committed a violation by moving from his set spot while inbounding the ball, which gave SMU the ball. SMU then responded by getting a five-second violation on its chance to inbound the ball. This gave the ball back to the Bulldogs, who then burned the remaining moments of regulation with a pass.
SMU’s Isiaha Mike was the first to score in overtime with a 3-point shot. Hammonds then made two free throws to set the score at 71-70, with SMU in the lead. The lead bounced back and forth during the first overtime and sat at 77-75 when Wheeler drove through the paint to make a layup with only moments left. This brought the score back to 77-77 at the end of the first overtime period.
This drive ended up being repeated when Wheeler made his game-winning drive at the end of the second overtime.
“Sahvir is so valuable to this team in so many different ways,” head coach Tom Crean said. “[He] did not play a perfect game, nobody did, but at the end of the day we had a play call we were saving… and we wanted him to operate it.”
A slow start
Georgia tied its lowest-scoring half of the season on Friday night. The Bulldogs scored only 25 points and trailed SMU, which had 28. The only other time Georgia scored 25 points to open a game was against Dayton in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational on Nov. 25. They trailed Dayton 43-25 and went on to lose the game 80-61.
Against SMU, Georgia’s leading scorer in the first half was Hammonds with only six points. The second-highest scoring Bulldog of the first half was Christian Brown, who went on a 5-point run that started at the 9:10 mark with a jumper. Brown then made a 3-point jumper 51 seconds later.
Georgia held the lead with 5:41 to play in the first half but lost it when SMU went on an 8-0 run that began with 5:15 left in the half. That kept the Bulldogs silent until Jordan Harris made a layup with 37 seconds to play.
First half foul trouble
Fouls troubled both teams early on Friday night. At the end of the first half, SMU was in the bonus due to seven Georgia fouls. SMU had picked up six of its own for a total of 13 between the two teams.
Anthony Edwards picked up two fouls within the first 1:11 of the game and was substituted out until the 7:40 mark — about halfway through the first half. Toumani Camara also had three fouls in the first half and scored no points. The fouls lessened in the second half of regulation for the Bulldogs, who only had three. But SMU then picked up another six fouls. In overtime, Georgia had five additional fouls, and SMU had one more.
Three who mattered
Rayshaun Hammonds: Hammonds led the Bulldogs in both points and rebounds on Friday night and picked up another double-double for this 2019-20 season. He had 21 points and 11 rebounds.
“I’m really proud of the way Ray responded tonight, because it wasn’t going well for him,” Crean said. “Very, very easy to get your head down, and he didn’t.”
Jordan Harris: The senior took the court for the Bulldogs for the first time since he was ruled ineligible to compete on Nov. 5 of this year. He had 9 points and four rebounds. Harris highlighted the night with a put-back dunk at the buzzer of the first half where he flew over the head of SMU’s Emmanuel Bandoumel.
Sahvir Wheeler: In addition to his two game-saving drives, Wheeler had nine points and eight assists.