ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Nicolas Claxton scored 13 points, including two straight layups which brought Georgia back from a second-half deficit, and the Bulldogs beat Sam Houston State 75-64 on Friday night.
Rayshaun Hammonds led Georgia (2-1) with 15 points. Claxton had eight rebounds.
Sam Houston State led 55-50 before Claxton scored the first five points of an 11-0 run to take the lead. Claxton was fouled by RJ Smith on his first layup. After missing the free throw, Georgia grabbed the rebound and fed the ball back to the 6-foot-11 Claxton, who again drove to the basket for a layup and a 55-all tie.
E'Torrion Wilridge and Hammonds added baskets to cap the 11-0 run for a 61-55 lead that helped the Bulldogs avoid the loss in first-year coach Tom Crean's second home game.
Georgia won despite making only 4 of 22 3-pointers.
Smith led Sam Houston State (2-3) with 14 points. Cameron Delaney added 13 points for the Bearkats, who were coming off a 74-59 loss at No. 19 Clemson on Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs struggled to take advantage of their big edge in size over the Bearkats, who started four guards with 6-foot-7 forward Kai Mitchell. Sam Houston State, from the Southland Conference, grabbed 10 offensive rebounds in the first half, leading to eight second-chance points that helped keep the game close.
There were six lead changes before William "Turtle" Jackson made two of three free throws with 4:03 remaining in the half to give Georgia a 31-30 lead.
Tye Fagan's 3-pointer late in the half helped Georgia lead 38-33 at the break.
The Bearkats used two 7-0 runs in the first eight minutes of the second half to lead 47-45 on a jam by Smith. While Georgia continued to miss its long-range jumpers, Sam Houston used back-to-back 3s by Josh Delaney, who had 10 points, and Smith to lead 53-50.
Tyree Crump had 10 points for Georgia.
Sam Houston State: Led by Smith and the Delaney twins, Josh and Cameron, the Bearkats used their quickness and quick, decisive passes to make up for their size disadvantage. Ultimately, poor shooting was too much to overcome as the visitors shot only 37.9 percent (25 of 66) from the field. Kai Mitchell had a game-high 11 rebounds.
Georgia: The Bulldogs struggled in their half-court offense, unable to find points when their 3-point shot wouldn't fall. Led by the athletic Claxton, the rebuilding team showed poise in the second-half comeback, but more fine-tuning in the half-court offense will be needed before Georgia begins its Southeastern Conference schedule.
Sam Houston State: The game was linked with the Cayman Islands Classic, which continues when the Bearkats face Jackson State on Monday.
Georgia: The Bulldogs will play Illinois State on Monday at Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands Classic. The tournament continues Tuesday when the Bulldogs face Akron or Clemson.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25