Cinmeon Bowers (above) takes a shot vs. Georgia player Houston Kessler.
Athens, Ga.--Poor shooting from inside and outside combined with the absence of leading scorer Kareem Canty was too much to overcome as the Auburn basketball team lost its fifth straight game, dropping a 65-55 SEC contest to the Georgia Bulldogs.
Playing at Stegeman Coliseum on Saturday, the Tigers made just 15-58 field goals (25.9 percent), 6-31 three-pointers (19.4 percent) and 19-28 free throws.
Cinmeon Bowers, who played most of the game at point guard instead of power forward with Canty suspended indefinitely, led the Tigers with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Tyler Harris added 12 points and five rebounds for the Tigers.
“Boy, they played really hard,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “Defensively, I thought that was as good of an effort from start to finish to hold Georgia to 35 percent shooting. Georgia got the better of us on the backboard in the second half, but I thought our kids played really, really hard and as consistently hard. We didn’t take possessions off. I am proud of them from that standpoint.”
Auburn was plus one in rebound margin at halftime, but finished minus eight for the game.
Pearl noted the shooting was the biggest issue. “We missed a lot of shots,”?he said. “I went down the line and looked at the shooting percentages and they are just not good.”
The coach added, “Boy, we left a lot of shots on the table we would need to make, especially given the suspension with Kareem. You knew we would be missing his offense and we did.”
Georgia got 16 points from point guard J.J. Frazier, who added six rebounds for the Bulldogs, a team that improved its record to 13-8 overall and 6-4 in the SEC. Auburn is 9-13 overall and 3-7 in the league.
Both teams struggled with their shooting early in the contest. Georgia was bad, but Auburn was worse, not making a field goal until Harris scored at the 13:37 mark to cut the UGA lead to 8-4.
Georgia built the advantage to as many as a dozen points with a 21-9 lead at the 5:29 mark. Auburn cut the margin to 28-22 on a pair of Bowers free throws at the 1:13 mark, but the Bulldogs added to their lead and were on top 31-22 at the break.
Halftime Numbers: Auburn hit 7-27 field goals (25.9 percent), 2-12 threes, 6-11 free throws while UGA hit 11-34 shots (32.4 percent), 1-6 threes and 8-13 free throws. AU?led in rebounding 24-23 while the Tigers turned the ball over seven times, five more than UGA.
The second half was more of the same, even worse to start the period, when it came to shooting. The Tigers made just one of their first 20 field goals in the second period as the Bulldogs built a comfortable lead that reached 25 points with 6:38 to play.
Sophomore walk-on point guard Patrick Keim drives vs. J.J. Frazier. Keim did not score vs. the Bulldogs.
Auburn hit five of its last six shots to make the score look less lopsided, but the visitors were out of the contest by the midway point of the second half.
Bowers was 3-11 from the field and turned the ball over just once in 33 minutes. He had two blocks, two steals and one assist. “I thought he did a really good job,” Pearl said. “He is a tough cover. He is hard to keep out of the lane and again, another double-double, but it limits our playbook because he probably knows about 20 percent of what we could potentially do.
“We got a chance to look at New Williams (at point guard) for the first time,” Pearl said of the freshman. “I thought New played hard and flew around out there so between him and Pat Keim we got some really good effort.”
The Bulldogs have won four of their last six games and are 5-1 in SEC ome games.
“It was hard fought,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “We were able to establish a double-figure lead. There wasn’t a lot of rhythm to the game. Obviously, Auburn played a little shorthanded today. I don’t think either team had any rhythm in the first half. Both teams played hard and we were fortunate enough to build a little lead in the second half and win the game.”
Worth Noting, Part 1: Despite playing without its point guards (Tahj Shamsid-Deen is also out due to an injury), the Tigers turned the ball over only 11 times, three more than the Bulldogs.
Worth Noting, Part 2: Harris left the contest late in the game. “Tyler is really sore,” Pearl said. “His back cramped up pretty good so we will see how he is. He gives us everything he has got.”
Stat of the Game: UGA outscored the Tigers 34-18 in the points in the paint category.
Up Next: Auburn will play at Tennessee on Tuesday. Tipoff is set for shortly after 6 p.m. CST in Knoxville.