ATHENS, Ga. — Chuma Okeke hit a 3-pointer with 26 seconds remaining and Auburn pulled out a 78-75 victory over Georgia, handing the Bulldogs their 13th straight Southeastern Conference loss on Wednesday night.
Auburn (19-9, 8-7 SEC) bounced back from a 27-point loss at Kentucky, though it sure was a struggle.
Georgia rallied from a 14-point deficit, only to take another heartbreaking loss in a dismal debut season for coach Tom Crean. The Bulldogs (10-18, 1-14) have lost nine straight overall — the last four by a total of nine points.
Nicolas Claxton tied the game at 75 on a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 54 seconds to go in overtime. With the crowd roaring, Georgia buckled down at the defensive end, blocking two straight Auburn shots.
The Tigers retained possession both times, calling timeout with three seconds left on the shot clock to set up a play off an inbounds pass. It wasn’t very imaginative — Samir Doughty lofted a pass over Okeke’s head out beyond the arc — but it worked out just fine. The sophomore forward turned and swished the winning shot.
Georgia had time to set up a tying basket, but the Bulldogs never got a good look. A desperation shot at the buzzer didn’t hit anything.
Jared Harper led Auburn with 22 points, including five 3-pointers, and Okeke added 13 points. Jordan Harris scored 18 points to pace the Bulldogs.
After trailing 50-40 at the half, Georgia rallied with a 13-0 spurt that was highlighted by some ferocious work on the boards. After grabbing three straight offensive rebounds, the Bulldogs finally scored when E’Torrion Wilridge laid one in on the fourth shot of the possession.
Derek Ogbeide capped the run with a shot that put Georgia ahead 58-57 — its first lead since early in the opening period.
The teams went back and forth after that, the lead changing hands seven times in the next five minutes.
Auburn: The Tigers desperately needed a victory after last Saturday’s debacle in Lexington, and they got it. They did a good job with the ball, finishing with only seven turnovers compared to 14 for Georgia.
Georgia: The Bulldogs extended their school record for consecutive SEC losses and matched their most defeats in conference play since going 2-14 in 2004-05. With two of their last three regular-season games on the road, the Bulldogs are making a run at the worst SEC record in school history — a 2-16 mark in 1973-74.
Auburn: Returns home to face Mississippi State on Saturday.
Georgia: Hits the road to take on Florida on Saturday.