Georgia holds off Oakland comeback, wins 81-69

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Rayshaun Hammonds and Nicolas Claxton scored 17 points apiece and Teshaun Hightower had 16 to lead Georgia over Oakland 81-69 on Tuesday night.

The Bulldogs appeared headed for a repeat of Saturday’s near upset of No. 20 Arizona State, when they blew an 18-point lead.

After being down by 17 in the first half, Oakland (4-8) got as close as 66-64 with 4:56 to play. But Claxton and Hightower scored on five straight possessions to help Georgia (6-4) pull away.

Xavier Hill-Mais led Oakland with 21 points and nine rebounds. Jaevin Cumberland added 14 points, Braden Norris 13 and Tray Maddox Jr. 12.

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Point guard Turtle Jackson scored 14 for the Bulldogs, with 12 coming in the first half on 3 pointers.

Jackson, averaging just 2.9 points, made four three-pointers in the first half, one off his career high. His fourth 3-pointer with 10:44 to go in the first half boosted the Bulldogs to a 27-10 lead.

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 minutes to play.

BIG PICTURE

Oakland: The Grizzlies were No. 20 in the country in turnovers per game at 10.9, but fell into Georgia’s frenetic pace and committed 14, just one less than the Bulldogs, who were 345th in the country with 17.1 per game.

Georgia: The Bulldogs blew a double-digit lead against No. 20 Arizona State on Saturday, and were in danger of repeating the tragedy against Oakland, a much lesser opponent. The Bulldogs twice led by 17 points in the first half, but Oakland managed to get as close as 66-64 before Claxton and Hightower sparked the closing surge.

UP NEXT

Oakland returns to Michigan on Friday but plays at No. 10 Michigan State.

Georgia visits Georgia Tech on Saturday. The Bulldogs have won the last three games against Tech after losing four straight before that.

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