Georgia basketball narrowly escapes last place Mizzou in SEC Tournament, sets sights on Gators

Georgia basketball has advanced to the second round of the 2024 SEC Tournament, but like most of the season, it wasn't easy or pretty.
Mar 13, 2024; Nashville, TN, USA;  Georgia Bulldogs guard Silas Demary Jr. (4) dribbles against the
Mar 13, 2024; Nashville, TN, USA; Georgia Bulldogs guard Silas Demary Jr. (4) dribbles against the / Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

59. 531. sec tourney 1.1. 64. 527. Final

The opening round of the SEC Tournament is done, and the Georgia Bulldogs are moving on to the second round to take on the Florida Gators.

That's the good news. Not so good? Georgia really struggled to put away the last-place Missouri Tigers after getting off to an early lead in the first half.

It was a game filled with sloppy ball-handling, poor shot selection, and missed opportuntities for Georgia, who trailed nearly the entire second half after giving up a 12-point lead late in the first half of the game.

The Bulldogs will need a better effort across the board if they want to upset the Gators and move deeper into the SEC Tournament.

Georgia's poor shooting was the story of the game vs Missouri. The Dawgs shot 40 percent from the floor and only hit 57.1 percent of their free throws. The only semi-positive in those stats was Georgia going 12-29 from 3-point range.

The Bulldogs were perceived to have a size and strength advantage in the paint and on the boards with 7'0, 275-pound Russel Tchewa manning things down low, but they were outrebounded by the Tigers 42-32, including a 14-9 deficit on the offensive boards. Mizzou also outscored the Dawgs in the paint, 24-18.

A 12-0 run to finish the game and a solid defensive effort, particularly down the stretch, saved Georgia's season, but things will become increasingly difficult heading into the second round and beyond.

Freshman guard Blue Cain led all scorers with 19 points, and Justin Hill contributed 17 points off the bench for the Dawgs.

Looking ahead to the second round vs Florida

Florida swept the season series with Georgia this year in two high-scoring games. Georgia's defense will need to show up in a big way, because the way the Dawgs have been shooting in recent weeks, they won't be able to keep up with the Gators high-octane offense.

Tipoff on the SEC Network is scheduled for 9:30 pm tonight at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.