It felt like March in Memphis on Saturday.
The Georgia Bulldogs played the Memphis Tigers in FedEx Forum in a back-and-forth game that featured 10 ties and 20 lead changes. A game that started with both teams hot from the field, Georgia ultimately won by hunkering down on the defensive end and holding Memphis without a field goal for the last 4:35.
With future lottery pick Anthony Edwards struggling for much of the game, Junior Reyshaun Hammonds lead the Bulldogs with 15 points and 12 rebounds. The biggest of those points came on a three-pointer with 4:05 left and put the Bulldogs ahead for good at 62-61.
Small spark plug Sahvir Wheeler added in 10 points and 7 assists off the bench. The 5-8 Freshman Point Guard strained the Memphis defense again and again as he penetrated into the paint and created space for his teammates throughout the second half.
There was a lot of good news for Georgia fans on Saturday.
First off, the young Dawgs proved that they can win without Edwards playing his best. The future lottery pick was only 4/17 from the field, but he continued to play lockdown defense and distribute for his teammates.
Another positive for Georgia was that these young Dawgs look like they have learned the importance of protecting the ball. After having issues with turnovers throughout Crean’s tenure, the Bulldogs showed maturity in handling the ball by committing just six turnovers and forcing nine themselves. If they can continue that pattern, Georgia will be a force in conference play.
Lastly, talent makes a difference folks. No disrespect to the DGD’s that took the floor for Mark Fox, but this team is eons more talented than the ones Georgia has had at any point since Jim Harrick was in town.
Georgia’s win over Memphis is their first over a top-10 team since the Dawgs beat Kentucky in Athens in 2011. It is their first road win over a top-10 team since Georgia beat Kentucky in Lexington in 2004. Georgia’s win over the Tigers snapped a ten game winning streak for #9 ranked Memphis.
The fact that Tom Crean’s signature victory just came in a game where Anthony Edwards only scored 13 points on 17 shots tells us that Georgia is playing team basketball at the right time. Edwards was the headliner of Georgia’s recruiting class, but it also featured four other Top-100 players and key transfer Donnel Gresham Jr.
A young team can sometimes take a full season before they really learn how to win. It is the hardest thing to predict in sports. Georgia’s young pups are now 4-0 in games where the margin was four points or less. They were 0-6 in such games a season ago.
Basketball has arrived in Athens, Georgia. Edwards might be gone after a year, but there is a foundation that has been built to win in the SEC for a long time. Georgia Basketball is appointment viewing now. That starts this coming Tuesday night.
The Dawgs will face Kentucky in Stegeman Coliseum at 9:00 EST on ESPN. These Dawgs are fun, and they have another chance at a program defining win in three days.