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GAME RECAP: Georgia 91, Auburn 86

A game that seemed tantalizingly close at times never really was.

NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight’s game wasn’t on anyone but Auburn. After manhandling Georgia in Athens a few weeks ago, the Bulldogs did the same to Auburn tonight. Surprisingly enough, the Tigers played one of their worst games of the season, especially since getting Sharife Cooper into the lineup, and they still had a chance to win the game, keeping it within two scores late.

Despite that, it ends up as a loss, and a thud after the defeat at Baylor over the weekend. Tonight was Jaylin Williams’ night, as he led the Tigers with 21 points, while Sharife Cooper had a “substandard” evening with just 19 points and 8 assists. Overall, Auburn ended up shooting better than Georgia, but the Bulldogs were a little more efficient and they controlled the paint, with 52 points coming from close range.

Georgia controlled the game for the first half, with Auburn coming out sluggish on both ends of the floor. The Bulldogs burned out to a 5-0 lead, then a 10-2 advantage, and kept the Tigers at arm’s length for the majority of the first period. Jaylin Williams was able to string together five straight points to cut the Georgia advantage to 17-13 at the 13:35 mark, but the Bulldogs answered right back. Three straight buckets stretched the lead to double digits for the first time at 23-13, and Auburn wouldn’t be able to cut it down to a single possession until four straight foul shots from Sharife Cooper brought the Tigers back within a 27-25 margin. While the Tigers couldn’t fully make up the margin, Georgia hit back, and Sahvir Wheeler’s three at the two-minute mark reestablished the double digit lead at 37-27. Auburn limped into the half down 39-30 with not much to show on either side of the floor.

Jaylin Williams paced Auburn for the first half with 7 points, but Auburn shot just 38.5% in that frame while the Bulldogs hit an even 50% on 16-32 shooting.

The second half wasn’t much better, even though both teams came out firing. After combining for 69 points before halftime, the two squads combined for 40 points in the first five minutes of the second half. During that stretch, Auburn got threes from four different players in Allen Flanigan, Cooper, Devan Cambridge, and Williams. The last pulled the Tigers within their closest margin of the second half at a 55-52 deficit, but Georgia answered again. Less than five minutes later, the lead had ballooned to 69-54 on a 14-2 Bulldog run. Jamal Johnson hit a three that ended that run, and Auburn was able to trim the lead to as few as six points, but at the final timeout of the game still trailed 75-68. The defense continued to struggle, letting Georgia players run through for nearly uncontested layups, but still a Cambridge three pulled Auburn back within two scores at 80-74 in the final two minutes. Still, Georgia held on to win 91-86.

Up next for Auburn, they’ll be back at home with Ole Miss this Saturday at 3 pm CST.