Georgia survived and advanced again on Thursday holding on late for a 62-60 win over 5th-seeded Missouri. The Bulldogs, who entered the tournament as the 12 seed, advance to the quarterfinals on Friday where they will face Kentucky.
Yante Maten put up another double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds while TeShaun Hightower came up big once again with 13 points to help the Bulldogs survive the Tigers. Georgia overcame a slow start and held on at the end as their offense once again bogged down late. They did enough to keep their season alive and have another huge opportunity ahead of them with Kentucky on Friday.
Conference play was a bit of a roller coaster ride for the Wildcats who enter the tournament as the fourth seed. A four-game losing streak in early February sent them reeling, but they recovered to win four straight before dropping the season finale to Florida.
Georgia played them tough in the only meeting between the two teams this season falling at Rupp 66-61 in the conference opener. The Bulldogs led late before Shai Gilgeous-Alexander came alive late with 21 points off the bench. Maten led the Bulldogs with 17 points and 12 rebounds with Derek Ogbeide and Rayshaun Hammonds also in double figures.
Hightower and fellow freshman Nicolas Claxton played a combined 11 minutes in that first meeting.
Both were a key part in Georgia’s win on Thursday as the team closed the game with three true freshman on the floor. Hightower’s emergence has been vital as he has played at least 20 minutes in four of the last five games, and has scored 13 points in each of the Bulldogs’ first two games of the tournament.
Claxton’s role has continued to expand as the season has wore on. His athleticism and shot blocking ability has been critical to Georgia’s interior defense. He played 30 minutes in Thursday’s win over Missouri finishing with seven points and eight rebounds.
Game Date/Time: Friday, March 9, 3 p.m. ET
Location: Scottrade Center, St. Louis, Missouri
Radio: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network. Flagship: WSB AM 750 Atlanta