Hammonds' big finish leads Georgia past Vanderbilt, 82-63
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By CHARLES ODUM
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) After missing each of his four shots in a scoreless first half, Rayshaun Hammonds found a positive attitude.
He also found his shot.
Hammonds scored 19 points, all in the second half, and Georgia bounced back from an ugly loss in its Southeastern Conference opener to beat Vanderbilt 82-63 on Wednesday night.
Derek Ogbeide had 15 points and nine rebounds for Georgia (9-5, 1-1 SEC). The Bulldogs led only 56-55 before finally pulling away with an 18-2 run.
Saben Lee led Vanderbilt (9-5, 0-2) with 12 points. Simisola Shittu had 10 points and 14 rebounds.
The win was especially important for first-year coach Tom Crean's Bulldogs following their most lopsided defeat in 60 years, a 96-50 loss at No. 3 Tennessee on Saturday.
"There was no woe is me, how did this happen to us?" Crean said, adding the strong play against the Commodores was "definitely a step" in his team's maturity.
Hammonds said he didn't fully distance himself from the Tennessee game until his big second half.
"In the first half I was letting it linger in my head, but then I sat on the bench and thought about it and came back with a positive attitude," Hammonds said.
Forward Aaron Nesmith had nine points in his first start, joining Shittu to give Vanderbilt two freshmen in its first five.
Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew said the final eight minutes have been "an Achilles' heel for us ... and today lived true to that."
Nicolas Claxton drew three fouls in the first seven minutes of the second half and went to the bench with Georgia leading 48-41. Hammonds filled the void with a 3-point play and another basket for a 53-41 advantage.
The Commodores answered with a 14-3 run, capped by Matt Ryan's 3-pointer, to cut the Bulldogs' lead to 56-55.
Crean called a timeout and put Claxton and Ogbeide back in the game. The return of the starting forwards sparked the 18-2 run to put the game away.
"We just couldn't get momentum back from that," Drew said.
William "Turtle" Jackson and Tyree Crump sank consecutive 3-pointers to spark Georgia's run. Jackson added another 3-pointer later in the run.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores were resilient in keeping the game close in the second half before Georgia's late run. Shittu, the native of Canada coming off a career-high 21 points in a loss at Mississippi on Saturday, made only 5 of 15 shots from the field.
Georgia: The Bulldogs showed the competitive fire late in the game Crean said was missing at Tennessee. Jackson's 3-pointers were a good sign the senior guard can regain his confidence and give Georgia much-needed backcourt leadership. Georgia showed some improvement in its long-range shooting. After making 1 of 20 3-pointers at Tennessee, the Bulldogs were good on 9 of 26 3s.
QUICK SECOND START
Hammonds' turnaround started only 14 seconds into the second half when the 6-foot-8 sophomore sank a 3-pointer that set the pace for a strong finish for Georgia. "He comes out in the second half and bangs a shot and looks good doing it," Crean said.
T FOR DREW
Drew was called for a technical foul early in the second half as he protested to officials that a foul should have been called on Claxton's block on Shittu under the basket.
Claxton had nine points, 12 rebounds and five of Georgia's 12 blocked shots. Claxton leads the SEC with 44 blocks.
Vanderbilt: Visits No. 18 Kentucky on Saturday.
Georgia: Visits No. 11 Auburn on Saturday.
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Updated January 9, 2019