Posts Tagged ‘Coach Mark Fox’
The Georgia Bulldogs (12-11, 6-4) edged the Texas A & M Aggies 52-46 in Athens on Saturday in a game that lasted nearly two and a half hours, featuring 47 total fouls.
Anyone at the game yesterday that was hoping to see some offense surely left Stegeman a little disappointed. Both of these teams entered the game ranking 3rd and 4th in the SEC in team defense in conference games. Although, in a game where Georgia shot 32% from the floor and the Aggies managed to make only 24% of their field attempts, it was hard at times to decipher if we were watching really good defense or inept offense (or a little of both).
However, the Dawgs did secure the win – their fifth in a row – and even more impressively, Georgia won with out a single field goal from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. For the first time in his career at UGA, Pope failed to convert a shot from the floor. KCP, who was blanketed by Elston Turner for the entire game, managed only three field goal attempts, and he was just able to reach 10 points by the grace of 10 shots from the line. Fortunately for Pope (and the Dawgs), he was perfect from the line, helping him extend his double-figures scoring streak to 23 games on the year.
KCP’s inability to find shots on Saturday may have been a product of his efforts on the defensive side of the ball, where he held the Aggies leading scorer – Elston Turner – to just 2 field goals on 14 tries. Similarly to Pope, Turner scored the majority of his 13 points (9) from the free throw line.
For Georgia, the offensive stallion of the night was Nemanja Djurisic, who paced UGA with 13 points.
The Dawgs opened up a wide margin early in this game, building an 11-1 lead a little over five minutes into the first half following a Neme jumper. Georgia maintained its advantage for much of the half, taking a 25-16 lead into the intermission.
After the break, UGA pushed its lead to 30-18 with 15:45 remaining following a pair of free throws from Pope.
However, A & M point guard Fabyion Harris, who led all scorers with 17 points, ignited a ferocious Aggie run by hitting three shots from beyond the arc, and after a pair of free throws from J’Mychal Reese the Georgia lead had been cut to 35-32 with less than 10 minutes left in the game.
With the Dawgs teetering on the brink of collapse, senior point guard Vincent Williams buried a three-pointer on the other end, shooting the UGA lead back up to 38-32.
Sherrard Brantley would then hit a three from the wing with 7:02 remaining, and Georgia was back on top 43-32.
From this point UGA was able to salt away the rest of the game from the free throw line, where Georgia shot an impressive 25-32 on the night (78%).
Other than some last-minute shenanigans from the officiating crew in the waning seconds, the Dawgs cruised to the 52-46 victory for the most part after the Brantley three-pointer.
Credit Vincent Williams though, who scored 7 points in 16 minutes, and for the second-straight game made a clutch shot for his team late in the second half.
After the game, Coach Mark Fox praised his team for becoming just that – a team. He pointed out that everyone chipped-in in some way on Saturday, and he really sounded proud of the way this Georgia squad enjoys playing with one another.
Winning 6 of 7 games can do that for a team.
After a pair of successful road wins at South Carolina and Tennessee over the past week, the Georgia Bulldogs (11-11, 5-4) will find themselves in unfamiliar territory on Saturday: home.
The Dawgs – one of the SEC hottest teams at the moment – will be playing host to the Texas A & M Aggies, the team that Georgia beat back on January 26th, marking the beginning of this four-game winning streak. In that game, UGA rode Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s 22 points en route to a 59-52 victory. The Aggies’ star player, Elston Turner, managed 19 points, but it took a 5 for 14 shooting night from the floor to get to that total.
Since the loss to Georgia, the Aggies have been playing some inspired basketball as well, winning two of their last three games. One of those wins came on Thursday night in a 70-68 home upset of #21 Missouri. The lone loss during the Aggies’ recent three-game stretch came in overtime to the Kentucky Wildcats last Saturday.
Tomorrow’s game in Athens has the potential to be an influential game in the conference, considering that these two teams are just a game apart in the SEC standings. With the added depth to the league, Saturday’s game provides Georgia with a chance to further separate itself from the middle of the pack; conversely, the Aggies will be looking to entrench themselves deeper into the center of the SEC standings.
Fans attending and watching the game in Stegeman tomorrow should be treated to a pretty good defensive display. In league play, Texas A & M and Georgia rank 3rd and 4th in the conference allowing just 60.7 and 63.2 points per game, respectively. The Aggies basically play a pressure man defense for 40 minutes, so UGA must be strong with the ball and not let their offense get pushed too far outside of the perimeter.
With the way Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been playing over the past five games, I would not be at all surprised to A & M shading help to KCP’s defender for much of the game.
Pope has been nothing short of spectacular over the Dawgs’ run, averaging nearly 22 points and 7 rebounds a contest during these past 4 games.
Georgia hasn’t won five SEC games in a row since 2001.
Twelve years later, Coach Mark Fox’s team has a chance to do it again.
The last time a Georgia Bulldogs (10-11, 4-4) basketball team won four consecutive Southeastern conference games was during the 2002-2003 season, which ended in turmoil for the Dawgs when coach Jim Harrick was forced to resign amid rampant cheating allegations. That season’s team, led by superstar Jarvis Hayes, pulled itself from postseason consideration, a postseason that might have featured a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
On Wednesday night, Coach Mark Fox’s team will be looking to put together a similar SEC win streak when they take on the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville.
The Vols (11-9) have gotten out to a slow start in conference play at 3-5, but much of that can be attributed to the challenging schedule that they have played thus far. Much like Georgia, Tennessee was dealt an SEC slate that began rather top-heavy, playing Ole Miss and Alabama twice as well as traveling to Rupp Arena to take on Kentucky – UT beat Bama at home, but lost all of the other aforementioned games.
Tennessee has been tough at home this year, winning 3 of 4 league games and notching significant out of conference wins over #14 Wichita State and Xavier.
The Vols are a big, physical group, led by mammoth sophomore Jarnell Stokes, a 6’8″ (270 pound) forward who sets the tone inside for a Tennessee team that is fourth in conference play in rebounding at 36 a game. Stokes, who averages 12.6 points and 9.6 boards in league contests, has already tallied 5 double-doubles in his first 8 games.
On the perimeter, Georgia will have to find a way to contain junior wingman Jordan McRae, who is putting together a phenomenal junior campaign. In conference play, the Midway, Georgia native is scoring a whopping 17.3 points on 43% shooting from the floor. Most likely, McRae will guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and vice versa, which should provide fans with an intriguing match-up on both ends.
While Georgia has struggled to put up points in SEC games, averaging only 58 a night, the Dawgs are improving offensively. Though UGA has attempted a league-low 356 field goals through eight games, the Dawgs are making nearly 44% of those shots, which is fourth-best in the conference. Even more impressive has been Georgia’s outside shooting, where the Bulldogs are connecting on over 37% of their attempts from beyond the arc (3rd in the league).
At the center of Georgia’s offense stands last week’s SEC Player of the Week – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – who has been nothing short of spectacular for Coach Mark Fox thus far. When gazing over the conference-only statistics, it’s hard to find a list that doesn’t have KCP’s name somewhere near the top. Pope is second SEC games in scoring (17.6) and steals (2.3). He is third in the field goal (51%) and free throw (86%) percentage categories, and KCP ranks fifth in three-point (43%) percentage as well. Pope even finds himself among the league leaders in rebounds with 5.5 boards per SEC contest. At the risk of gushing over the young man, I think it is safe to say that he is living up to his preseason First-Team All-SEC billing.
Georgia’s success away from Athens in SEC games this season can be directly attributed to Pope, whose calming presence on both the offensive and defensive ends has given this team the lift it has needed to win on the road.
KCP is providing veteran leadership to a young team, and amazingly, he himself is just a sophomore.
Whatever celebration the Georgia Bulldogs (7-10; 1-3) enjoyed following the win over LSU on Saturday night most likely ended when they peered at the schedule and noticed that the #7 Florida Gators were up next.
The Dawgs’ first contest with the Gators – a 77-44 drubbing in Gainesville – seemed horrific for UGA at the time, but looking at Florida’s SEC resume thus far it appears the beating was business as usual for the Gators. Florida (14-2; 4-0), who is easily the top team in the conference, might be the best team in all of college basketball right now.
Need proof? Check out the 83-52 whipping Coach Billy Donovan’s put on #17 Missouri last Saturday on ESPN3 in the “Replay” tab.
In the Missouri game, Florida employed the same full-court, relentless pressure that flabbergasted the Dawgs a few weeks ago. The Gators’ defense has been scary-good through their first four SEC games, holding opponents to a conference-best 48.8 points per night. In those same games, Florida’s average margin of victory has been nearly 27 points a game, also tops in the league. When looking at the Gators’ team statistics in conference play, it appears that they are either first or second in just about every category – field goal percentage, turnover margin, rebounding, assists, etc.
Georgia, on the other hand, can be found near the bottom of the list in nearly every aforementioned category. The biggest concern for Coach Mark Fox at this moment should be his team’s inability to take care of the basketball. Through four SEC games, UGA is now tied with Vanderbilt with 17.3 turnovers per game, which is worst in the league. In the first game between these two teams Georgia gave it away 19 times – if the Dawgs cannot become stronger with the ball then Wednesday night’s match-up could quickly evolve into another 30-point beat-down.
Georgia’s backcourt has got to start defending the perimeter better as well, since they are currently allowing SEC opponents to make nearly 43% of their three-point attempts (also worst in the conference). Florida, who is knocking down an SEC-best 8.8 three’s per game, canned 12 from beyond the arc the first time these teams met. The Dawgs cannot afford to allow the Gators to reel off big chunks of points from the outside with Georgia’s ongoing scoring issues.
Realistically, UGA needs to play a completely flawless game just to have a chance to hang around on Wednesday against the #7 team. Florida may not take the Dawgs too seriously, considering how badly they mistreated them down in Gainesville. If the Gators do sleepwalk into Athens, then maybe Georgia can keep themselves in the game.
One thing is for sure, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will need to be a lot more assertive this time against Florida than he was the last. In the O’Connell Center, KCP only put up one shot through the game’s first 12 minutes. By the time Pope reached the scoring column on a lay-up with 8:06 left in the first half, Georgia was already trailing 19-6.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s body language last night gave the impression that he was tired of all the losing and REALLY wanted a win – hand-clapping between possessions, celebrating with teammates during timeouts, etc.
Though KCP finished with a game-high 22 points, his defense may have been the ultimate reason that Georgia (7-10; 1-3) wound up on top on Saturday.
With the Dawgs up 61-56 and less than 90 seconds remaining, LSU had the ball and a chance to make it a one-possession game. Pope would have none of it however, taking the ball from the Tiger guard for his 6th steal of the evening. On the ensuing possession, Vincent Williams was fouled, made both free throws and UGA found itself leading 63-56 with only 50 seconds left. At this point, the game was out of reach for the team from Baton Rouge, and Georgia would walk out of Stegeman with a 67-58 win – their first SEC win of the season.
LSU came into this contest with a bit of a turnover problem – giving it away nearly 18 times a game in conference play – and Saturday was no different as the Tigers handed the ball to the Dawgs 21 times. UGA capitalized on LSU’s carelessness, converting those turnovers into 19 points.
In his post-game conference, Coach Mark Fox praised his team’s defense, which limited LSU to just 36% from the floor. The Tigers’ 58 points marked their second-lowest offensive output of the year thus far.
The UGA bigs had trouble containing Johnny O’Bryant III – who ended up with 16 points and 14 boards – but Georgia did manage to corral the LSU backcourt for much of the game.
For Georgia, the only other player to score in double-digits was junior Donte Williams, who chipped in 14 points, 5 rebounds and a blocked shot in what was definitely his biggest game of the year.
While getting off the snide and securing that first SEC win must feel really good to this UGA team, the game with LSU was not played flawlessly. Once again, Georgia struggled mightily to handle a full-court press, turning the ball over 16 times last night. The Dawgs host the #10 Gators in Athens on Wednesday in a game that will certainly feature a lot of full-court pressure from Florida.
The victory over LSU puts UGA in a four-way tie at 1-3 with South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
Georgia has a very difficult week ahead of them with the aforementioned match-up with the Gators and then a road trip to College Station to play Texas A&M. However, if the Dawgs could steal one of those games, they could put themselves in a position to get back to .500 since the next two would be against Auburn and Carolina.
Funny how a win can serve to restore hope.
On an afternoon which the University of Georgia honored members from the school’s 1983 Final Four basketball team, the current Bulldogs put on a performance that fans are probably trying their best to forget.
After an exciting first half that saw Mississippi State take a narrow 36-35 lead into the break, both offenses came out flat to start the final twenty minutes. With 7:38 remaining in the game, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made a free throw that cut the State advantage to just one point at 52-51.
It was at this exact moment that MSU guard Jalen Steele decided that he wanted to win the game, making three shots from beyond the arc on consecutive possessions. Steele’s last three-pointer during this span put his team up 62-51 with only 5 minutes left, ensuring that the Maroon Dawgs would secure the road win and start out the SEC season 2-0.
KCP, who looked as if he was going to have a monster game after scoring 14 points in the first half, was unable to convert on any of his 6 field goal attempts after the intermission – a sure recipe for disaster considering he is UGA’s only real scoring threat. Pope made a pair of free throws, finishing the game with a team-high 16 points.
The Dawgs put up a herculean effort on the glass, winning the rebounding margin by a count of 44-37. What was particularly impressive was Georgia’s success on the offensive boards, where they brought down 17 rebounds.
Once again, however, it was the team’s shooting that ultimately led to their demise. UGA shot under 33% from the floor and just 59% from the free throw line on 32 attempts. In his post-game interview, Coach Mark Fox seemed unable to explain his team’s inability to perform from the charity stripe in games other than the players need to take more responsibility.
I wish that Fox has spoken more about his substitution strategy after the game, because I left Stegeman perplexed as to why starter Brandon Morris only played two minutes in the game’s second half. Morris, who ended up logging just 11 minutes in this one, scored 4 points before the break on two nice moves that he made off the dribble, and he appeared to be raising Georgia’s energy level. Yet, Fox chose to leave him on the bench for 90% of the second half.
The Dawgs 0-2 start to conference play is troubling because today’s game was considered by most to be one of their easier home games. On Wednesday, Georgia heads to #10 Missouri for a game that could get rather ugly in a hurry (a la last week’s Florida game).
Coach Mark Fox’s Georgia Bulldog (6-8; 0-1) team has had roughly 48 hours to lick their wounds and try to regroup after receiving a 77-44 shellacking at the hands of the Florida Gators in Gainesville last Wednesday.
The silver lining in the loss to the Gators is that it was pretty much the result that was expected.
However, when UGA takes the court on Saturday against Mississippi State (6-7; 1-0), the Dawgs should feel a sense of urgency to protect home court and get a win because a loss could set the tone for what could end up being a dismal season.
Georgia’s performance in their season-opener sent them right back down to the basement of the latest ESPN SEC Power Rankings – no real shocker there.
Mississippi State, who was projected to finish last in the conference prior to the start of the season, currently sits at the 11th spot in the SEC ranks. For all the struggles that the maroon Dawgs have had so far this year, they did win their first conference game 56-54 over South Carolina, marking the team’s third win in the last four games. While the Bulldogs have gotten out to a slow start, much of that can be attributed to the fact that they were playing without star junior guard Jalen Steele, who fractured his wrist earlier in the season. Steele returned to the lineup two weeks ago, and his team has won 2 of 3 games with him netting 10 ppg during that same stretch.
This particular match-up may not be suitable for basketball fans that enjoy offense, as both State and UGA are scoring towards the bottom-tier of the country’s teams at 62.5 ppg and 59.4 ppg, respectively (Georgia is now 321st in the nation in that category).
MSU’s leaders on offense – along with Steele – are sophomore big Roquez Johnson and freshman Fred Thomas, who are both averaging double-figures in points per game.
The Dawgs play at #10 Missouri next Wednesday, meaning that if they hope to avoid an 0-3 start to conference play it would behoove them to get a win in Athens on Saturday.
With the way that Georgia handled (or did not handle) the Gators’ full-court pressure earlier this week, I would not at all be surprised to see MSU look to play this game up-tempo.
Hopefully Fox’s team will be prepared with a better response than what we saw in Gainesville.