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The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs looked primed and ready for the early tipoff in Athens this morning, while Georgia appeared hungover.
Tech’s pressure overwhelmed the Dawgs from the opening tip, forcing UGA into 4 turnovers before the game was 3 minutes old. In addition to the stingy defense, LA Tech was on fire from the outside, connecting on 7 of its first 8 three-pointers, allowing the other Bulldogs to open up a 39-13 advantage with 7:27 left before the intermission.
Georgia was completely overmatched to start the game, unable to slow down Louisiana Tech’s onslaught.
The Dawgs did manage to cut the lead to 19 points heading into the break, but the initial pummeling that Georgia took at the beginning of the game ended up being too much to overcome.
UGA was less careless with the basketball in the game’s final 20 minutes and LA Tech cooled off a bit, but the hole that Georgia dug for itself was just too deep.
The Dawgs gave the home crowd a glimmer of hope when they trimmed the LA Tech advantage to 62-54 with 6:06 remaining in the game after a three-pointer from Kenny Gaines. However, the other Bulldogs quickly quieted Stegeman Coliseum by going on a 7-2 run which was capped off by a Kenny Smith three, making it 69-56 with just 2:40 left.
LA Tech would go on to win 79-71, and the UGA season came to an abrupt end at about 1 o’clock in the afternoon.
Georgia’s 19 turnovers led to 17 points for Tech, and 16 of those came in the first half.
Charles Mann, who finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds, unfortunately committed another 7 turnovers, matching his total from the first-round game against Vermont.
Freshman J.J. Frazier paced the Dawgs offensively, scoring a career-high 15 points, including a 4 for 7 performance from beyond the arc.
Today’s loss puts UGA’s record for the season at 20-14, which is certainly better than most anticipated coming into the 2013-2014 season.
While Georgia certainly overachieved this year, for whatever reason, this team did not appear to be that interested in being a part of the NIT. The Dawgs needed a late second-half comeback to beat a less talented Vermont team at home in the opening round. This morning, UGA turned in maybe its worst first half of the season.
Some teams use the postseason NIT as an opportunity to tack on some additional wins in the hopes that it builds momentum going into the next season.
That did not happen for Georgia.
Dawgs fans should feel optimistic about next year’s basketball season, but the sleepy performances that UGA provided in its two NIT games felt a little too similar to the games Georgia played back in November to start the season.
If the Dawgs hope to be closer to the NCAA bubble next March, they must find a way to avoid these lackadaisical games going forward.
Georgia appeared dead in the water after Sandro Carissimo – who led Vermont with 11 points – hit a jumper to put his Vermont team up 52-45 with just 6:30 left in the game.
The Dawgs had relinquished a 29-20 halftime advantage, and they looked as if they had no interest in defending the perimeter.
Charles Mann, however, had other plans, scoring 11 of his career-high 29 points in the game’s final minutes, helping his Bulldog team finish the game on an 18-4 run en route to the 63-56 victory.
Vermont could not handle Mann, allowing the sophomore to get to the rim at will.
Marcus Thornton chipped in 16 points, which gave him and Mann a combined 45 of the team’s 63 points on the night.
UGA’s biggest problem in this game was itself as the Dawgs committed 22 turnovers against the Catamounts. Charles Mann may have netted 29 points this evening, but he also carried the turnover load as well by giving the ball to Vermont a team-high 7 times.
Georgia escaped tonight’s game against Vermont by mostly relying on its athleticism.
Unfortunately for UGA, Georgia’s next opponent in the NIT – 3-seed Louisiana Tech – is far more athletic than Vermont and the other Bulldogs tend to play the game at a more uptempo pace.
The Dawgs will need to be less careless with the ball against LaTech of they hope to keep playing in this tournament.
It appears that the Georgia Bulldogs (19-13) basketball season will continue as the Dawgs were selected to play in this year’s National Invitational Tournament (N.I.T.).
UGA received the 2-seed and the Dawgs should host (since they are the higher seed) Wednesday’s game against the Vermont Catamounts, a team that finished the year 22-10 overall and 15-1 in the American East Conference. Vermont was the top seed in its conference tournament, but the Catamounts were ousted in the semifinals by Albany.
Other than Donte Williams and Marcus Thornton, Wednesday’s game will be the first postseason experience for this young Georgia team.
Sometimes talent triumphs grittiness and effort.
At least that was the lesson the Georgia Bulldogs learned yesterday in its 70-58 loss to the Kentucky Wildcats in the semifinals round of the SEC tournament.
The Cats are a physically impressive bunch, especially when viewed in person.
If you think having a 6’4″ point guard like Charles Mann is nice, guess what? Kentucky has two of them – each of the Harrison twins is 6’6″ and they both handle the ball well.
Julius Randle is 6’10” of pure muscle, and he too can move with the athleticism of a guard or wing.
The fact that UGA hung around and managed to make it a game at all is a testament to Coach Mark Fox’s system and his players’ belief in that system.
Just as in the Ole Miss game, Georgia had to play much of the first half with four starters – Mann, Kenny Gaines, Brandon Morris and Donte Williams – on the bench with two fouls each.
Once again, UGA’s reserves stepped up – JuWan Parker scored 7 points and J.J. Frazier contributed another 5 (to go along with 3 rebounds). Neme Djurisic and Cameron Forte scored 4 points apiece, and the Dawgs went into the intermission trailing Kentucky 36-32.
These aforementioned UGA players were all two-star recruits coming out of high school, and yet they managed to keep the Dawgs competitive in a game against a team that has McDonald’s All-Americans on its bench.
In the second half, though, UK’s talent took over.
Kentucky tightened up its defense, making it very difficult for Georgia to get good looks near the basket. The Cats are so long and athletic that it felt like there were six or seven of them on defense each possession.
For the majority of the afternoon, Georgia had the game played at the pace it wanted – slow and deliberate. The speed of the game definitely slowed down the Kentucky offense, but unfortunately for UGA, Kentucky turned in one of its better shooting performances of the season.
The Wildcats, who ranked near the bottom of the SEC in three-point percentage at just 32% in league games, knocked down an impressive 9 of their 16 attempts from beyond the arc. These three-pointers were devastating for the Dawgs, and they enabled UK to secure the 70-58 victory and earn a chance to play the Florida Gators on Sunday.
Georgia got as close as 3 points after a free throw from Neme to make it 46-43 with 13 minutes remaining, but the Dawgs were unable to wipe out the deficit completely.
UGA was led offensively by Kenny Gaines, who scored all 13 of his points in the game’s second half. Charles Mann was the only other Bulldog to finish in double-digits, contributing 12 points.
This loss pretty much assures that Georgia will not be playing in the NCAA tournament this season, but with an RPI of 76 the Dawgs look like a lock for the NIT.
Yesterday’s game embodied the kind of overachievement that the Dawgs have produced for much of this season as Georgia played toe-to-toe with a team that began the year ranked #1 in the country.
After a 6-6 start in the non-conference portion of the schedule, Georgia looked like a program that was about to go off the rails once conference play started. In addition to this mediocrity, Coach Mark Fox was being listed on just about every “Hot Seat” compilation being generated amongst college basketball media sources.
Somehow, CMF and his team altered the course of the season. For Georgia to finish the year 19-13 overall and tied for second in the conference is living proof to the amount of heart and perseverance this team possesses.
The Dawgs won 9 of their last 12 games, arguably making them one of the hotter teams in the country.
The knock against Fox has always been his inability to bring in more big-time recruits from the metro Atlanta area, which may be true.
But the guy definitely develops players (see J.J. Frazier, Neme Djurisic, Marcus Thornton, Kenny Gaines), and he finds a way to squeeze every ounce of effort out of his team.
The Dawgs are set to lose just one player from this team -senior Donte Williams – and they should enter next season as one of the favorites to finish near the top of the conference.
Coach Fox seems to have the program going in the right direction.
Mississippi’s Marshall Henderson does just about everything he can to draw attention to himself at all times.
Ironically, Georgia put together its best overall team effort of the season en route to an exciting 75-73 win that went late into the evening on Friday in the Georgia Dome.
After Charles Mann gave UGA the go ahead layup to make it 74-73 with 16 seconds remaining, Andy Kennedy called timeout to get his team ready for its final possession.
Georgia fans nervously suffered through this endless 30 seconds, waiting to see if Coach Mark Fox’s team had one last defense stand in them.
Fortunately, they did.
As soon as the ball touched Henderson’s hands he launched an off-balance three from the wing that glanced the side of the rim before falling into Marcus Thornton’s hands.
Thornton got one of the two free throws, giving UGA a 75-73 advantage.
The Rebels’ Jarvis Summers – who was unstoppable, scoring a game-high 26 points on the night – couldn’t connect on his last-second attempt from the corner and the Dawgs earned a chance to play Kentucky today in the semifinal round of the SEC tournament.
Charles Mann led UGA with 16 points, but credit the Georgia reserves and role players for stepping up big and keeping the Dawgs in the game in the first half.
Mann, Kenny Gaines and Marcus Thornton all picked up two fouls before the break, causing them to miss a ton of time in the first half.
With Ole Miss leading 18-7 and nearly 13 minutes remaining before the intermission, things were looking bleak for the Dawgs as their star point guard had to take a seat after picking up his second foul.
Freshman J.J. Frazier came to the rescue though, connecting on a pair of threes and a floater in the lane, scoring 8 of his 11 points in the game’s first half. Frazier’s spark off the bench was instrumental in the UGA comeback, and his scoring helped the Dawgs go into the half down by only a basket.
Brandon Morris did miss a couple close shots down the stretch, but he finished with 12 points on an array of drives from the wing.
In just 23 minutes, Marcus Thornton nearly notched another double-double, netting 9 points to go along with a team-high 11 rebounds. Thornton was aggressive when he received the ball in the paint, enabling him to shoot 10 free throws on the night. Thankfully for Georgia, Thornton made 7 of those attempts, several of them coming at critical moments down the stretch.
Marshall Henderson did manage to score 19 points, but I think it is safe to say that he may have shot his team out of the game. UGA’s Kenny Gaines and Juwan Parker tirelessly chased Henderson all over the court, frustrating the Ole Miss senior into a 2 for 16 performance from beyond the arc.
Now, I’ve never been to Rupp Arena, but I have a decent idea of what it might be like after sitting through the Kentucky-LSU game last night. Mark Fox was quoted earlier in the week as saying that he is tired of hearing about “Catlanta”, but his complaints had no effect no the Big Blue nation’s travel plans.
The Dawgs will be playing just an hour from Athens today in the Georgia Dome, but that arena is going to seem pretty hostile to Coach Mark Fox’s team.
If Georgia can weather the initial storm and get the game played at a half court pace, they could frustrate this young Wildcat team into forcing it a bit.
When these two teams met earlier this year in Lexington, Kentucky routed the Dawgs 79-54 – however, Georgia was playing without its second-leading scorer (Gaines), and the Dawgs were within 8 points with 12 minutes left in the contest.
If UGA wants into this year’s NCAA tourney, then they need to get into tomorrow’s SEC championship game.
Actually, CBS’s Jerry Palm thinks Georgia needs more:
Must win Sunday. Have to beat UK to have that chance. @ugadawg16: any chance for UGA to go to the NCAAs if they beat Kentucky tomorrow?
— Jerry Palm (@jppalmCBS) March 15, 2014
The Georgia Bulldogs begin their SEC tournament tonight with a rematch against Mississippi.
Ole Miss utilized 42 combined points from guards Jarvis Summers and Marshall Henderson on Thursday night to power the Rebels past its in-state rival Mississippi State for a 78-66 tournament victory.
Last night’s win was by no means a cakewalk for Ole Miss as they trailed the Maroon Dogs 44-35 at the half.
The fact that Henderson and Summers tallied over half of the team’s points should not come as much of a surprise since this duo averaged 50% of the Rebels’ scoring in conference play this season.
UGA won the first meeting between these two teams in thrilling fashion in Athens when Charles Mann hit a free throw with just a second remaining to put his team up 61-60. In that game, the Dawgs’ Kenny Gaines notched 21 points and played pretty solid defense on Henderson, particularly in the game’s second half. In addition, Georgia completely dominated Ole Miss on the glass, out-rebounding the Rebels 49-34.
The Dawgs, in my opinion, come into this game at a slight disadvantage since they have yet to play a game in the Dome. The Rebels could be a little more comfortable shooting the ball to start this contest since they already have a game under their belt.
Consensus among college basketball media and just about everyone who reads this blog is that UGA needs to win two games in this tournament to be considered for the NCAA tourney.
Tonight marks Georgia’s first opportunity to make its case.
Out of Georgia’s potential opponents for Friday – Missy State, Vandy or Ole Miss – the Rebels seem to pose the scariest challenge, simply because Marshall Henderson can be so dangerous from just about anywhere across half court. The Dawgs edged out Ole Miss 61-60 in a tightly-contested game in Athens earlier this year.
In addition, the Rebels won this tournament last year, though I do not think that this year’s squad is quite as strong as last year’s with the departures of Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner from the inside.
In regards to the possible “letdown” effect, I really don’t see how that might even be a factor with this Bulldog team.
If anything, I anticipate Georgia players stepping into the Georgia Dome with a bit of a chip on their shoulders. Despite finishing tied for second in the SEC with Kentucky, UGA is still getting snubbed from both ESPN and CBS Sports ‘s Bubble Watches.
In the pre-game broadcast for the tonight’s opening SEC tournament games, analyst Barry Booker described the bottom half of the bracket as “wide open”, noting that he could see either LSU, Alabama or Ole Miss making a run in this tournament.
Add Booker to the growing list of college basketball media personnel that are still not talking about Georgia.
7:43PM – I just saw on ESPN’s Bottom Line that network Bracketologist Joe Lunardi does in fact have Georgia on his “bubble”.