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Coming off a home loss to George Mason, Georgia is preparing to host another mid-major opponent, as Western Carolina comes to Athens on Monday evening.

The Bulldogs (4-6) trailed the Patriots by eight points at halftime on Saturday and were only able to trim the deficit to six points in the second half before George Mason pulled away for an 80-67 win.

Georgia allowed the Patriots to shoot 51.9 percent from the floor and 42.3 percent from 3-point range, and George Mason had 23 assists to just nine turnovers.

For fourth-year coach Tom Crean, the Bulldogs’ ineffectiveness on defense stuck out.

“The problem for us, at times, was that we didn’t follow the game plan defensively. And that just can’t happen,” Crean said. “We’ve got to be more physical. We’ve got to be more tuned into what we do, awareness-wise.”

The loss against George Mason was the first game Georgia had played without Jailyn Ingram, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the Bulldogs’ Dec. 7 win over Jacksonville. Ingram was averaging 10.7 points and team-leading six rebounds per-game. Against the Patriots, Georgia was still adjusting to Ingram’s absence.

“Now we have a game under our belt without him,” Crean said. “There’s no question that it was different. But that’s what we have now. Guys have to understand that this is our team.”

Against George Mason, Georgia was led by Braelen Bridges, who had 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Bridges leads the Bulldogs in scoring this season at 12.7 points per game, and he is also shooting a team-best 65.8 percent from the floor.

Western Carolina (6-5) is coming off a defeat too, having lost to rival UNC Asheville 73-72 on Dec. 11.

“At the end, players got to make some plays. That’s what it was,” first-year Catamounts coach Justin Gray said. “We’ve made plays this season. Those guys that have confidence in doing them, it just didn’t happen today. I was proud of our guys’ effort.”

Nicholas Robinson led Western Carolina with 15 points, six rebounds and two assists in the loss. He leads the team in scoring and rebounding this season with 14.7 points and eight boards per game.

–Field Level Media