ATHENS — Georgia basketball is off and running under new coach Tom Crean, a 110-76 season-opening victory over Savannah State in the record books.
Crean found plenty of areas for his rebuilding team to work on, but Friday night was all about the positives.
The Bulldogs scoring the most points since a 113-74 win over Grambling State in 1999, Jim Harrick’s first year as head coach.
“I’ll always remember this one,” said Crean, hired last March to replace Mark Fox. “There’s nothing like that opener.”
Crean brings a rich basketball background and 18 years of head coaching experience to Georgia, having won more NCAA tournament games between his stints at Marquette and Indiana (11) than the Bulldogs have in the history of their program (7).
But first things first, Crean said, he needs to figure out who his starters are.
Rayshaun Hammonds, Nicolas Claxton, Derek Ogbeide, Turtle Jackson and Teshaun Hightower were the first five on the court against the Tigers.
“We don’t have a starting five, and it’s not coach speak,” Crean said. “As I said in the locker room, we had some guys have good nights .. but I don’t think you can build a program and not have real competition at practice.”
Claxton starred in the uptempo game, recording his first career double-double with career highs in points (15) and rebounds (13) in addition to a career-high five blocked shots.
Teshaun Hightower scored a career-high 18 points and made a career-best three 3-pointers, as well as trying his career-high steal mark with two.
All 15 of the Bulldogs players logged minutes and 14 of those players scored — five of them hitting double digits.
“I’m ok with playing really fast,” Crean said “We just want to play with more efficiency.”
Georgia had 28 assists, but also, 23 turnovers.
“I love their work ethic, I love their work and the energy they practice with,” Crean said. “But we have to get more competitive against one another in practice. It’s the old bible verse ‘Iron sharpens iron.’ “
Georgia returns to action at Temple at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night.