ATHENS — The Georgia basketball team put its foot down Tuesday night, turning back Oakland’s comeback bid in the final minutes at Stegeman Coliseum.
The Bulldogs (6-4) scored an 81-69 win over the Golden Grizzlies (4-8) before a small but spirited crowd.
Georgia sophomore Nicolas Claxton recorded his fourth double-double of the season, scoring 17 points and pulling down 13 rebounds, helping the Bulldogs close out the win.
Rayshawn Hammonds recorded the first double-double of his career with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
The Bulldogs led by as many as 17 points before Oakland rallied in the second half, cutting the lead to two points at the 4:57 mark.
Coach Tom Crean watched intently from the bench down the stretch, surely recalling last Saturday night’s collapse against No. 18 Arizona State. The Bulldogs led the Sun Devils by 18 points before falling at home, 76-74.
“We’ve got to learn how to finish a team off,” Crean had said. “It’s got to get better, and we have to find a way to close.”
Georgia found a way on Tuesday night thanks to Claxton’s stepped up play in the final minutes. The 6-foot-11 forward proved just as formidable guarding the rim in the clutch moments.
Senior point guard William “Turtle” Jackson came out of his shell in the first half, pacing the Bulldogs with 12 points through the first 20 minutes as they took a 45-34 lead into the half.
Jackson, who hadn’t scored more than seven points in a game this season, finished with 14. The senior from Athens Christian School drilled his first four attempts from beyond the arc.
Jackson’s shooting helped Georgia solve Oakland’s 1-3-1 zone early on to build a 27-10 lead.
The Bulldogs return to action at Georgia Tech (5-4) at noon Saturday (ESPNU).
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