At the end of Georgia’s media availability in October, one reporter told freshman guard Tyree Crump, “I think we’ll probably talk to you a lot this year.”
The team had yet to play an official game, but by all accounts Crump was electric during exhibition games in Spain in July. It was reasonable to believe he would contribute early. Only, Crump didn’t — until now.
On Saturday, Crump scored 13 points in a 76-75 victory over Tennessee. With 2:26 left, Crump hit the last of his three 3-pointers to give Georgia a six-point lead. It was Crump’s first start, and it came at a time when Georgia had lost five of six games and needed a boost.
“It felt like I’d been here before because in high school I hit big shots,” Crump said.
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Senior guard J.J. Frazier said Crump’s presence behind the 3-point line forced the Volunteers to put a man on him, whether or not he had the ball in his hands. That helped alleviate pressure on Frazier, who finished with a season-high 29 points.
“They couldn’t help off as much, and when they did help off (Crump) made them pay,” Frazier said.
Crump said he found out he would be making his first career start not long before game time. He called it a “surprise.” Georgia head coach Mark Fox disputed that, saying Crump likely knew the night before the game.
Regardless, when Crump found out he said he didn’t show much emotion. He didn’t get nervous. His mindset didn’t change. That’s the way it is with Crump. Frazier said his freshman teammate is the second-most confident person on the team — behind himself.
“That’s how I’ve been all my life,” Crump said. “Once I see one or I miss one — if it felt like it was going to go in — I’m going to shoot it again. That’s just how my confidence is.”
Frazier said Crump’s confidence makes him the type of player who a team can be built around. While he’s not at that point in his development yet, Crump has improved this season — particularly on defense, which he admitted was a weakness of his before the season.
“He’s significantly better (on defense),” Fox said. “He’s light years better than he was when we started.”
Now that Crump’s defensive ability has at least begun to catch up to his offensive prowess, the only question remaining is whether or not Crump starts against Mississippi State on Tuesday.
While Fox did not commit to it, saying the decision would be made after practice Monday, Crump has certainly made his case.