Athens, Ga. — Twice up by 17 points, Georgia was staring at a two-point lead against Oakland with five minutes to go and a nightmarish memory.
But the Bulldogs showed signs of progress, pulling away late for an 81-69 victory on Tuesday night. It was a reversal of Saturday’s 76-74 loss to No. 20 Arizona State when the Bulldogs blew an 18-point lead.
Rayshaun Hammonds and Nicolas Claxton scored 17 points apiece for the Bulldogs. Claxton also had 13 rebounds and three blocks while Hammonds added 11 rebounds for his first career double-double.
Teshaun Hightower chipped in with 16 points and William Jackson II had 14 for Georgia (6-4).
Xavier Hill-Mais had 21 points and nine rebounds for the Golden Grizzlies (4-8). Jaevin Cumberland added 14 points and Braden Norris had 13.
“Our team was down after that loss the other night,” said Georgia coach Tom Crean. “They went at it the last two days. They practiced hard and were competitive. Bottom line, we found a way. I know that is a cliché, but it is true.”
Jackson made four 3-pointers in the first half, one shy of a career best. He hadn’t hit a 3 since Nov. 21. Crean credited better footwork and the fact that Jackson was playing off the ball more.
Jackson was averaging just 2.9 points. His fourth 3-pointer with 10:44 to go in the first half boosted the Bulldogs to a 27-10 lead.
Oakland coach Greg Kampe said his team’s inexperience showed when it could not catch Georgia at the end. The Grizzlies lost all five starters from last year, and only Mount St. Mary’s returned fewer minutes played from last season.
“We’re a very young, inexperienced team, and I think we showed that tonight,” Kampe said. “But we cannot make the mistakes we made during the game. You know, they’ve got to be there and learn from it.”
Kampe said it was the hardest his team has played since the season opener.
“If we play that hard, and if (James) Beck will rebound (nine) like he did tonight, we’ve got a chance to be pretty good, and before this year’s over. Now, there’s still a lot of stumbling blocks out there. There still is.”
After being down by 17 in the first half, Oakland got as close as 66-64 with 4:56 to play. Following a Georgia timeout, Claxton and Hightower scored on five straight possessions to help the Bulldogs pull away.
Georgia still had a 17-point lead as late as 6:37 in the first half when Hightower’s 3 made it 37-20. But Oakland whittled it down to 45-34 at the break.
In the second half, the Grizzlies got as close as three when Norris hit a 3-pointer with 14:05 remaining to make it 51-48. Hightower answered with a 3 and two free throws to push the lead back to 56-48 with 13:08 remaining.
Hill-Mais then sparked a 10-2 run, hitting three free throws and two layups to make it 66-64 Georgia, prompting a Bulldog timeout with 4:56 to go.
Georgia capitalized on five straight possessions: a Claxton dunk and two free throws, an acrobatic runner by Hightower, another Claxton free throw, and a trey by Hightower to build a 76-64 lead with just 2:00 to play.
Tuesday’s Big Ten
(At) No. 15 Ohio State 75, Youngstown State 56: Kaleb Wesson had a career-high 31 as Ohio State overcame a terrible start and beat Youngstown State.
Wesson was dominating in the second half, scoring 26 as the Buckeyes (10-1) were again forced to win in come-from-behind fashion. The sophomore topped his previous career-best 22 points, achieved in Saturday’s game against Bucknell.
Ohio State trailed 25-22 at the half, but took the lead with a Wesson put-back three minutes into the second half and took control from there.
Darius Quisenberry had 17 points, and Naz Bohannon added 11 for Youngstown State (5-9).
(At) No. 23 Iowa 78, Western Carolina 60: Tyler Cook scored 18 points, Luka Garza added 15 and freshman Joe Wieskamp scored 10 points for the Hawkeyes (9-2), who forced 26 turnovers and led by as many as 27 points.
Iowa knew that Western Carolina could give it a game after the Catamounts took Furman – the team a spot below the Hawkeyes in this week’s AP Top 25 – to double overtime. But Iowa mostly dashed Western Carolina’s hopes early, using a 28-10 first-half run to go ahead 48-29.
Iowa slowly pulled further ahead in the second half, as Maishe Dailey’s layup helped push the lead to 65-38.
Marc Gosselin had 17 points for the Catamounts (3-10), the first team in the Southern conference to hit the 10-loss mark.
Tuesday’s Top 25
(At) No. 1 Kansas 89, South Dakota 53: Dedric Lawson had 16 points and 14 rebounds, Charlie Moore made six 3-pointers en route to 18 points, and top-ranked Kansas pulled away in the second half.
Freshman forward David McCormack added a career-best 12 points off the bench for the Jayhawks (10-0), helping to soak up minutes while Udoka Azubuike is sidelined with a sprained ankle.
Kansas has won 40 consecutive games in Allen Fieldhouse as the nation’s No. 1 team.
Stanley Umude scored a game-high 28 points to lead the Coyotes (6-6), who have never defeated a ranked team in seven tries.
(At) No. 2 Duke 101, Princeton 50: RJ Barrett continued his rookie-season scoring rush, scoring 27 as Duke cruised.
Fellow freshman Zion Williamson had 17 points and 10 rebounds in the Blue Devils’ first game in more than a week due to an exam break. Duke (10-1) got off to a cold start and didn’t take its first lead until more than 14 minutes in, but eventually got rolling and handed the Tigers their most lopsided loss in program history.
Myles Stephens had 19 points for Princeton (5-5), which scored the game’s first eight points and led 18-16 before Duke put together an 11-0 run to take over.
(At) No. 8 Gonzaga 89, Texas-Arlington 55: Rui Hachimura had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Gonzaga beat Texas-Arlington, ending a two-game skid that toppled the Bulldogs from No. 1 in the AP Top 25.
Brandon Clarke added 17 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks for Gonzaga (10-2), which lost to No. 3 Tennessee and No. 9 North Carolina last week.
Brian Warren scored 12 points for Texas-Arlington (3-8), which has lost seven straight. They fell to 1-31 against ranked teams.
No. 14 Buffalo 71, (at) Syracuse 59: CJ Massinburg scored 25 points, Jeremy Harris added 18 and Buffalo rallied past Syracuse to remain unbeaten.
It was the first win over the Orange since January 1963 for Buffalo (11-0), one of only nine undefeated teams of the 353 that play in Division I.
Syracuse (7-4), coming off a crushing home loss to Old Dominion, folded down the stretch against the Bulls.
Elijah Hughes had 16 points and Frank Howard scored 13 to lead Syracuse. Leading scorer Tyus Battle finished with 11.
(At) No. 15 Ohio State 75, Youngstown State 56: Kaleb Wesson had a career-high 31 points as Ohio State overcame a terrible start and beat Youngstown State.
Wesson was dominant in the second half, scoring 26 points as the Buckeyes (10-1) were again forced to win in come-from-behind fashion.
Darius Quisenberry had 17 points, and Naz Bohannon added 11 for the Penguins (5-9), who have lost five of their last six.
(At) No. 20 Marquette 92, North Dakota 66: Markus Howard scored 26 points, including 19 over the final 10:22 of the first half to help stabilize Marquette after a sloppy start in a 92-66 win over North Dakota.
Howard, a sharpshooting guard, was 9 of 13 from the field and 4 of 6 from behind the 3-point line. Sam Hauser added 21 points for Marquette (9-2).
Cortez Seales had 14 points and seven rebounds for North Dakota (6-6), which trailed by 22 at the break.
Hardaway, Barnes clash
The verbal jabs between Memphis coach Penny Hardaway and Tennessee’s Rick Barnes continued Tuesday with Hardaway saying “it was kind of low class” for the Vols coach to imply the Tigers were flopping during their game Saturday.
“I don’t know who Rick Barnes thinks I am, but I’m not a dude who likes to mess around about anything,” Hardaway said. “I just call it how I see it, no matter how he’s trying to make things seem. I think it’s kind of low class, how he’s trying to downgrade my guys for flopping and all that. Come on, give me a break.”
Tennessee won 102-92 at Memphis on Saturday in the first meeting between these two teams since Jan. 4, 2013. With 47.8 seconds left during a timeout, officials gave double-technicals to Tennessee’s Jordan Bone and Memphis’s Alex Lomax.
Hardaway said Bone said something disrespectful.
“I didn’t like that (Hardaway calling out Jordan Bone by name) obviously because I don’t think you do that,” Barnes said.