The atmosphere was alive inside the Littlejohn Coliseum as 10,325 Clemson fans set out to rattle their opposition, and it worked as the Bulldogs were off-kilter early and could never fully regain momentum.
Georgia fell to Clemson 74-64 in its season-opening loss on Friday. Plenty of the team’s struggles could be attributed to the inability to find an offensive rhythm in the first half. The lack of early energy was Georgia’s downfall in its 14 losses last season, and it was no different to begin the following campaign.
“I was disappointed with the poise we showed, despite the emotion in the building,” Georgia head coach Mark Fox said. “Our first offensive play-call out of the gate wasn’t run right. But you have to give their defense credit, because they played well.”
Georgia’s scoring was unbalanced in the first half as 23 of the team’s first 30 points came from the frontcourt trio of Yante Maten, Mike Edwards and Derek Ogbeide. The Bulldogs’ senior backcourt leader, J.J. Frazier was held to one 3-pointer at the intermission, coming with less than a minute in the period.
The Tigers planned for Frazier’s offensive capabilities, and as a result the Bulldogs lack of balance could be credited to a lack of flow and a sense of desperation.
“I just think it was rhythm really,” Maten said. “A lot of the shots seemed rushed. It wasn’t our shot. Usually we’ll end up finding our shot and it’ll be a good shot, a good team shot. Tonight we were rushed, sped up. We have to stay a little more poised and be more composed.”
The Bulldogs had plenty of practice prior to opening the regular season, including a 94-point performance in their exhibition against Fort Valley State a week ago.
Having practice opportunities to perfect their craft, the Bulldogs’ performance may not have resembled that of practice, and the team believes the circumstances were what left their plans to open the season in shambles.
“We haven’t rushed any shots (in practice). We let the game come to us,” Maten said. “We were just sped up. We lost the game but we can’t dwell on it.”
As Georgia looks ahead to the home opener against UNC-Asheville on Monday, cleaning up offensive blunders will be imperative. With a host of newcomers on the squad, including two freshmen, Maten preaches the importance of moving on yet again
“I don’t dwell on games. After the game I flush it. That’s just how I am. As a leader on the team you can’t dwell on it. If you dwell on it, the rest of the team will dwell on it.”