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Crean takes complete blame

Georgia’s basketball team has endured some head-wrenching losses over the course of the non-conference portion of its current campaign.

Wednesday’s 77-60 defeat at the hands of Gardner-Webb was undoubtedly the most disappointing of all.

The Big South Conference member came into play as a mere 5-7 team, but dominated UGA for all 40 minutes. The visiting Bulldogs led by as many 21 points.

Head coach Tom Crean did not attempt to parcel out blame for the defeat, a loss that dropped the Bulldogs to 5-8 ahead of SEC play starting next week.

“I put it all on myself. I’m the coach,” Crean said. “I’ve got to do a better job all the way around. That’s my responsibility.”

Transfer Noah Baumann did not hide his frustration.

“I’ve been on a losing team my first two years of college basketball, and this team is nothing like that team,” Baumann said. “I’m not saying we’re losers or nothing like that. We have so much potential, so many players who can do so much more—myself included.

"But it’s frustrating when we’re not helping each other, we’re not feeding off each other like we should. It’s just another game where we got outplayed. Simple as that.”

With conference play set to start next week, Georgia’s situation the rest of the year would seem dicey at best.

The Bulldogs open the SEC slate Tuesday against Texas A&M, before two straight road games at Kentucky and Mississippi State. Georgia also plays Auburn and Alabama before January concludes.

Crean was asked about the challenge now of keeping his players positive and the Georgia fanbase engaged.

“We just have to get better. I can’t think that way right now. I thought the fans who were there tonight were fantastic,” Crean said. “I’ve just got to look at it closely and decide what we’ve got to do, whether it’s the starting lineup and what we might have to do to make adjustments there. But it’s a long season, conference play starts, and we’ll find a way. We’ve got to look at this closely and see what gives us the best chance to win.”

One thing is for sure, Georgia has shown it can't overcome the kind of slow starts Crean was referring to.

Wednesday, the Bulldogs found themselves down 18-8 seven minutes into the game and quite simply did not recover.

“I really don’t have an answer for that,” Braelen Bridges said. “I just know that SEC play is coming up and slow starts just won’t cut it. We’ve got to pick it up starting next Tuesday.”

Georgia’s season-long shooting woes bit the team once again.

The Bulldogs followed up a 40-percent first half (12 of 30, by shooting just 34 percent (10 of 29) in the second.

Gardner-Webb, meanwhile, finished 25 of 59 from the field (49.2 percent).

“I need to make the game easier for them all the time, that’s really what it is,” Crean said. “It’s not as much about an X and O situation as it is. We’ve got to have some accountability for our ball screening, moving without the ball and make the adjustments that they’ve got to have. That always starts with the coach. That’s what it is.”

NOTE: The Bulldogs played the game without Jaxon Etter, who is suffering from back spasms. Crean was unsure when he might return.