Derrick Bruce scored 17 points, and Jeremy Combs added 15 or Texas Southern (3-6). The Tigers have dropped two in a row against Power 5 conference opponents since upsetting then-No. 18 Oregon last week.
Crump’s straightaway 3-pointer gave the Bulldogs their first 20-point lead midway through the second half and he added his career-best fifth trey to make it 81-66 at the 4:56 mark.
“I thought he played through fatigue and did some good things,” Crean said. “He got open shots. We moved the ball well. We had 18 assists, 32 made field goals, 11 3s. That’s good.”
Georgia looked sharp throughout as Crean tries to move his team past disappointing performances last month in losing consecutive games to Clemson and Georgia State.
The Bulldogs’ starting front line of the 6-foot-11 Claxton, 6-9 Ogbeide and 6-8 Hammonds kept collapsing on Trayvon Reed, keeping Texas Southern’s 7-2 center from being the same force that scored 23 points and had nine dunks in the Oregon win.
Reed finished with 14 points and seven rebounds, but he was outmatched midway through the second. Claxton was defending Reed tightly enough that he couldn’t pivot and decided to feed Devocio Butler for a layup. Claxton turned toward the basket to swat Butler’s shot away and begin Hammonds’ drive down the floor for a quick 3 that made it 59-42.
“We’re trying to establish an identity of how hard we play, how hard we want to play,” Ogbeide said. “It’s a certain mindset that has to be developed, trained and worked on.”
Crump went 4 for 5 and has scored 81 of his 120 career field goals beyond the arc. Georgia shot a season-best 50 percent on 3s, so Crump hopes the Bulldogs can keep up the pace.
“(Crean) tells me if you are open, you shoot the ball,” Crump said. “So if I hit one, then I’m going to hit two. If I hit two, I feel like I’m going to hit three. That just carries on.”
First-year coach Johnny Jones has put Texas Southern through a tough early schedule with trips to Baylor, Gonzaga, Iowa State and San Diego State. Facing tough competition will likely help the Tigers when their Southwestern Athletic Conference schedule tips off next month, but they will need Reed to be at his best if they are to advance to the NCAA tournament for the fifth time in the last six seasons. He wasn’t a force at Arizona State after picking up two fouls in the first 93 seconds.
“We were getting pounded on the boards and giving them second-chance opportunities,” Jones said. “They finished with 36 points in the paint tonight, so we obviously didn’t do a good enough job of taking that away from them.”
Crean was pleased to watch his team not let up in the second half to keep Texas Southern from making a run. Georgia took the lead for good midway through the first on Harris’ 3, beginning a 33-15 run that ended on Teshaun Hightower’s 3 at the 1:59 mark. The Bulldogs led 52-35 at halftime and were never threatened in the final 20 minutes.
“We’re looking for more,” Crean said. “I coach these guys where I think they could be, not necessarily where they’re at. That’s the only way we’re going to get it.”
Texas Southern: Hosts Concordia on Saturday.
Georgia: Hosts Arizona State on Dec. 15.
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