Geist leads Missouri past poor-shooting Georgia, 64-39
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Missouri finally generated momentum in the Southeastern Conference with back-to-back wins near the end of its mostly disappointing season.
Georgia’s search for its first back-to-back SEC wins ended with an ugly loss described by its top scorer as a dud.
“It was one of those things I said to our guys it’s never too late,” said Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin after the Tigers (14-15, 5-12 Southeastern Conference) won their second straight game.
Watson made each of his five 3-pointers in the second half. Neither team made a 3 in a low-scoring first half.
Nicolas Claxon had nine points and 10 rebounds to lead Georgia, which was held to its fewest points in 15 years. It was a disappointing game for first-year coach Tom Crean in Georgia’s final home game of the season.
Georgia’s second-leading scorer and rebounder, Rayshaun Hammonds, was held out with an injured right foot. Crean said he doesn’t expect Hammonds to return this season.
The Bulldogs missed Hammonds. Missouri took a lopsided 50-28 advantage in rebounds.
“Tonight was a dud, offense, defense and rebounding, all across the board,” Claxton said.
Missouri and Georgia (11-19, 2-15) lead only Vanderbilt in the SEC standings.
Missouri ranks last in the conference with its average of 67 points per game, while Georgia is last in defense, allowing an average of 74.6 points.
The teams played up to their dismal rankings, especially in a low-scoring first half when the Tigers and Bulldogs were a combined 0 for 22 on 3-point attempts.
“We both set basketball back to start the game,” Crean said.
The drought on long-range shots stretched to 28 misses — 14 straight for each team — before Watson finally sank a 3 almost five minutes into the second half.
Martin said Tilmon “had one of his better games, playing without fouling, being aggressive, posting and reading the defense.”
Each team was coming off a rare win.
Georgia snapped losing streaks of nine straight games overall and 13 straight SEC games by beating Florida 61-55 on Saturday. Missouri had lost four straight before beating South Carolina 78-63 on Saturday.
Missouri led 38-16 midway through the second half when JoJo Toppin sank a 3-pointer as Georgia snapped its 0-for-15 start on 3s.
Missouri: Geist had little help in the first half, when he led the Tigers with 12 points and no other scorer had more than four. Missouri enjoyed more scoring balance after halftime, especially on 3-pointers. The Tigers had 17 assists, including six by Geist.
Georgia: The Bulldogs’ previous scoring low this season was 49 points in losses to Top 25 teams, then-No. 16 Clemson and Kentucky. .. Georgia’s six seniors were recognized before their final home game. … The Bulldogs made only 13 of 51 shots (25.5 percent) and 3 of 20 3-pointers.
HAMMONDS STILL HURTING
Hammonds wore a warm-up suit as he sat on the bench. He was held out for the second time in the last three games. He also missed Georgia’s loss to Auburn on Feb. 27 before playing five minutes in Saturday’s win at Florida. Crean did not say if Hammonds aggravated the injury against Florida. The sophomore forward averages 12.1 points and 6.1 rebounds.
Georgia had not been held below 40 points since a 61-39 loss to Vanderbilt in 2004. The Bulldogs also set season lows with 14 first-half points, five assists and 25.5 percent shooting from the field.
Missouri: Closes its regular season on Saturday at home against Mississippi.
Georgia: Plays at South Carolina on Saturday in its final regular-season game.