Posts Tagged ‘Georgia Bulldogs’
The first time Georgia (15-16,9-9) and LSU (18-11,9-9) met this season, the Dawgs rode Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s 22 points en route to a 67-58 home victory – their first SEC win of the season. The victory over the Tigers set the Bulldogs off on a run in which they would win 5 of their next 6 games, with the lone loss coming at Florida.
LSU had a “UGA-like” resurgence as well following the loss to the Dawgs, which put them at 0-4 in league play. Since that game, the Tigers have posted a 9-5 conference record, notching wins over Missouri, Alabama and Arkansas.
A large part of LSU’s improved play has rested on the broad shoulders of sophomore big man Johnny O’Bryant III, who has put together an All-SEC calibre season. In conference play, O’Bryant averaged 14.7 points and 9.4 rebounds. The 262-pound forward has registered 11 double-doubles in his 18 SEC games this year. In the loss to Georgia back in January, O’Bryant netted 16 points to go along with 14 boards.
Containing O’Bryant’s physicality in the paint will be a challenge for the Dawgs on Thursday. However, Georgia’s biggest challenge in their first tournament game could be more emotional than physical. After suffering yet another heart-breaking road loss at the buzzer in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, UGA must regain its poise and be ready to deal with a competitive LSU team.
No team in the SEC has had worse luck away from home than Georgia this season, with the Dawgs losing in overtime to Ole Miss as well suffering 2-point, 1-point and 3-point losses at Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Alabama, respectively.
Obviously, how deep UGA goes into the tournament in Nashville relies heavily on the play of KCP, the SEC Player of the Year. The sophomore averaged 18.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.9 steals in league games this season, and he played an integral part in all 9 of the Dawgs’ league wins. The true measure of an MVP is how important he is to his team’s success, and Pope – without question – has been absolutely essential to this UGA squad.
In the latest NBAdraft.net projection for the 2013 draft, the site had KCP going at the 30th pick of the first round – the last pick.
Win or lose on Thursday, hopefully it will not be Pope’s last game as a Bulldog.
Georgia headed to a timeout after Kyle Wiltjer hit a three-pointer that cut the UGA lead to 50-47 with 7:47 left in the game. For the first time Thursday night, the Kentucky faithful were on their feet making noise in Athens. The Dawgs had held a 10-point advantage over the Wildcats a little over a minute before this break in the action, but that lead had been cut down to just a possession ball game.
This moment was the exact point in the game when Georgia was supposed to crumple under the pressure of this furious Kentucky onslaught.
Unfortunately for the Cats, Georgia chose to respond, reeling off 12 straight points and opening up a 62-47 advantage with less than four minutes remaining. Georgia would go on to win from here 72-62, possibly putting an end to Kentucky’s NCAA hopes.
UGA’s team defense was tenacious on Thursday, holding the Cats to only 37% from the floor and just 62 points.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who scored 6 points during Georgia’s critical 12-point run, finished the game with 24 points and 10 boards for his sixth double-double of the season.
While KCP was once again the floor general for the Dawgs, Coach Mark Fox received magnificent play from both Donte Williams and Nemanja Djurisic.
Williams, who was a perfect 8 for 8 from the free throw line for the first time in his young life, contributed 10 points to go along with 8 rebounds. Donte played extremely strong inside for his team tonight, and his ability to make free throws may have been the difference in the game.
Neme snagged 6 boards himself, and he also netted 12 points, including a pair of monster three-pointers in the second half that helped UGA preserve their lead over Kentucky.
Credit Mark Fox for the turn around that this team has undergone right before our eyes this season. Against Kentucky, UGA committed just 10 turnovers; over the past three games, Georgia has given the ball away only 28 times, which is a major improvement for a team that was leading the conference with over 18 turnovers a contest earlier in the year.
The Dawgs followed up the Tennessee win with another dominant effort, and at 9-8 in the SEC they will travel to Alabama on Saturday with a chance to challenge for the 7-seed in this year’s league tournament.
One thing is for sure, this team will be ready to make some noise in Nashville next week.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, the network’s NCAA Tournament guru, has Kentucky currently placed in his “First Four Out” portion of the field, which implies that the Wildcats are riding the NCAA “Bubble” hard. A loss to the Georgia Bulldogs on Thursday night in Athens could certainly put a major damper on the Cats’ postseason hopes, meaning Coach Calipari’s team will probably be treating this game similarly to a playoff match-up.
However, the stakes in tonight’s game are pretty high for the Dawgs as well, who need a win to keep pace with Tennessee (10-7), LSU (9-8) and Arkansas (9-8) if they hope to avoid the dreaded 8-/9-seed game in this year’s SEC Tournament (UGA is in the 9-spot at the moment).
Since losing “Mr. Do-Everything” – freshman Nerlens Noel – Cal’s team has mustered just a 3-3 conference record (if you include the Florida game in which Noel went down with the knee injury). Noel anchored the Kentucky defense, averaging 4.4 blocks and nearly 10 rebounds a game. Over the past five games without Noel, the Cats have allowed SEC opponents to score 70 or more points in four of those games, which is definitely concerning since Kentucky had only allowed three league teams to post 70 points or more over the previous ten games.
Coach Cal’s team has not been able to get it together away from Rupp without the services of their big man, dropping road games at Tennessee and Arkansas (last Saturday). If the Cats want to dance this March, they will have to find a way to sneak out of Stegeman with a win on Thursday.
Offensively, Kentucky’s scoring is extremely balanced, with five players averaging over 8 points per game. Leading the way is freshman guard Archie Goodwin, who is netting a team-best 12.1 points per SEC contest.
For Georgia, Thursday’s game against Kentucky gives the Dawgs another chance to even up their overall record, which currently rests at 14-15. In addition, a victory over the Cats would greatly help UGA in its attempts to jockey for a slightly higher seed than 8 in next week’s SEC Tournament.
With Kentucky’s athleticism, I would be surprised if Kentavious Caldwell-Pope gets many good looks at the basket in this one. Coach Mark Fox will need more aggressive point guard play from freshman Charles Mann, who is coming off a career-high 18 points against Tennessee in game in which he repeatedly attacked the rim off the dribble.
Las Vegas is giving Kentucky a 3.5-point edge in this one, which may provide UGA with a little extra fuel leading up to the game.
While nearly 10,000 people packed into the Steg to see Tennessee last Saturday, I anticipate a near-capacity crowd Thursday night in what should be the most prestigious home game of the season.
Hopefully Georgia is ready.
Georgia freshman Kenny Gaines only played 8 minutes on Saturday, but he made the most of his time on the floor late in the game against the Vols. With Tennessee trailing UGA 50-45 and under 6 minutes remaining in the game, Charles Mann found Gaines in the corner where the frosh cooly buried a three-pointer, putting UGA back up by 8 points.
Gaines hit another monster three from the baseline minutes later, helping to extend the Dawgs’ lead to 62-50 with less than 3 minutes remaining.
Kenny put the stamp on the UGA victory by finishing a three-point play the old fashioned way off of another assist from Mann, giving Georgia a 67-58 advantage with only 1:25 left.
Prior to tip-off in this one, Fox had listed Gaines as a “game time” decision – thankfully, Gaines’s heel bruise seemed good enough to play on and Kenny was able to play a major role in Dawgs’ win.
A major concern for Georgia heading into today’s game with Tennessee centered on dealing with the Vols’ star point guard, Trae Golden, who had been scoring 19 points per game during the team’s recent six-game winning streak.
Charles Mann – UGA’s freshman point guard – stepped up and played his best game of the season while taking Golden completely out of his game. On offense, Mann took the ball right at Golden en route to the rim at nearly every opportunity, getting to the line for 14 free throw attempts (of which he made 12). Mann’s aggressiveness led to a career high 18 points to go along with 8 assists, and he had Golden in foul trouble for the entire game.
Defensively, the 6’4″ freshman was too tough for UT’s point guard, limiting the smaller Golden to merely 4 points on an abysmal 1 for 10 shooting performance.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had his hands full on defense for much of the afternoon as he was matched up on Jordan McRae, who finished up with 35 points before fouling out.
However, KCP gave Georgia another excellent effort inside Stegeman today, scoring 25 points and grabbing 9 boards – just one short of his fifth double-double of the year.
UGA did an excellent job inside dealing with the UT bigs, who came into this contest with some of the better rebounding numbers in the SEC. Georgia outrebounded Tennessee by a count of 38-34, and the Dawgs scored 30 points in the paint to the Vols’ 14.
The win today puts Georgia at 8-8 in the conference and 14-15 overall, giving UGA a realistic shot of getting into this season’s NIT Tournament, should they manage to win another game or two.
This loss may have devastating consequences for Tennessee as the Vols have now dropped two games to the Dawgs (RPI 141), and I imagine they will find themselves on the outside of the NCAA Bubble tomorrow morning.
For Georgia, showing the ability to bounce back from such a difficult loss at Vandy on Wednesday to grab a victory against a very hot team displays a lot of maturity.
The atmosphere inside the Steg this afternoon was energetic as the home crowd of nearly 10,000 fans enthusiastically voiced their support of this young Bulldog team.
I anticipate an even bigger crowd on Thursday night when Georgia hosts the John Calipari-led Kentucky Wildcats.
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.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope must not want to relinquish last week’s SEC Player of the Week award because after tonight’s 24-point performance in Knoxville he is well on his way to claiming it again.
Pope played magnificently on Wednesday night for his team, burying 5 of 7 three-pointers – all of which came when Georgia’s lead was just 5 points or less.
In the game’s final two minutes, with Tennessee trailing by only 3 points, KCP was as poised as ever. The sophomore calmly scored 5 unanswered points, including a clutch three-pointer with a Vols’ defender in his face to put Georgia up 66-58 with only 51 seconds remaining. Those points were the nail in UT’s coffin, and the Dawgs would head back to the locker room (singing all the way) with a 68-62 SEC road victory – their third of the season.
While KCP was the main storyline for the Bulldogs on Wednesday, Georgia also got significant contributions from guards Vincent Williams and Kenny Gaines, who chipped in 10 and 12 points, respectively. Both of these guys also made big field goals down the stretch with less than 4 minutes left that helped the Dawgs maintain their advantage over Tennessee (Gaines’s baseline jumper at the 2:37 mark served to ease the memories of his back-to-back first-half bank shots).
Even though Tennessee’s star players – Jordan McRae and Jarnell Stokes – managed to score 17 and 16 points, respectively, the UGA defensive pressure for much of the night was quite strong. The Dawgs held the Vols to just 3 of 11 shooting from beyond the arc, and they forced Coach Martin’s team into 13 turnovers (11 of which came in the first half).
Georgia began the game white-hot, nailing 7 of their 13 three-point attempts before the break. On the evening, the Dawgs finished with 11 three’s, their highest output of the season from beyond the arc.
The victory this evening puts the Dawgs’ overall record at an even 11-11, and they have now gone over the .500 mark in SEC play with a 5-4 record. This win is UGA’s fourth in a row in league play, which is something that hasn’t been done since 2003, under coach Jim Harrick. Something tells me that Coach Fox’s team managed this streak legitimately, though.
Georgia is tied with Arkansas for six place in the conference, and with the way this team is playing and improving a 10-win SEC season does not sound nearly as out of the question as it might have a month ago.
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.
This Saturday’s slate of college basketball games offers fans some pretty intriguing match ups – #14 Miami @ #19 N.C. State, #16 Ole Miss @ #4 Florida and #1 Michigan @ #3 Indiana.
Somewhere much further down the prestige ladder lies the game in Columbia, South Carolina, which features the Gamecocks hosting the Georgia Bulldogs (9-11, 3-4). While this game is virtually irrelevant to most college basketball observers, it should carry a huge amount of weight amongst UGA supporters.
The Dawgs, who began conference play 0-3, have stormed back over the past several weeks, winning 3 of four games. Georgia has put themselves in a position to reach a .500 record in the SEC with a win over the Cocks on Saturday.
South Carolina is on the heels of an embarrassing 75-36 drubbing at the hands of the mighty Florida Gators, and the Cocks will no doubt be looking to exact some revenge on the Bulldogs this Saturday. Fortunately for Georgia, they will be facing a Gamecock team that has yet to find much of an identity.
First-year Carolina coach Frank Martin has been dealing with the growing pains of starting two freshmen bigs – Michael Carrera and Laimonas Chatkevicius – as well as trying to win with his star player – Bruce Ellington – slumping. Ellington, a junior who has been the face of this program’s basketball team for the past few years, has been struggling mightily over the past five games, averaging just 8.4 points and hitting only 16 of his 54 field goal attempts.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, on the other hand, has been surging offensively during the Dawgs recent hot streak. Over the past four games KCP is netting 20 points and nearly 8 boards a night. Even more impressive is that fact that Pope has been putting up these scoring totals while taking just 12 shots per game. While I appreciate KCP’s patience and his ability to “let the game come to him”, considering the collective offensive options on this Dawgs’ team I think I would rather see Pope take a few more field goal attempts each game.
As far as SEC road games go for Georgia, Saturday’s match-up with the Gamecocks presents a fairly winnable opportunity. While winning in Columbia is certainly not a given, playing at South Carolina looks a lot better than playing at Arkansas, Ole Miss, Tennessee or Alabama right now.
The Georgia Bulldogs are part of a five-way tie that exists within the SEC for teams with 2-4 conference records. This week, the Dawgs will have the opportunity to play two of those teams that are residing in the same logjam – Auburn and South Carolina.
Considering that Georgia’s schedule strength is currently ranked 33rd by ESPN’s RPI tool, this week’s games should appear more welcoming for a Dawgs team that has played an intense SEC slate thus far.
The Dawgs and the Tigers are coming off of contrasting Saturday experiences. Georgia snuck up on Texas A & M and walked out of College Station with 59-52 road victory, while Auburn lost a 63-61 heartbreaker at home to #16 Ole Miss (declaimer – Ole Miss shot 4-17 from the free throw line). The loss to the Rebels marked Auburn’s fourth in a row after beginning SEC play with back-to-back wins. The Tigers have a road date with #17 Missouri slated for this Saturday, meaning that Georgia should be ready to deal with an Auburn team that will be playing with a sense of urgency in order to avoid its fifth-straight loss.
Auburn is led by its seniors – point guard Frankie Sullivan and 6’10″ big man Roy Chubb – who are both averaging in double-figures, with Sullivan topping all Tiger scorers at over 15 points per SEC game. Chubb, a native of Peachtree City, is fifth in the league in rebounding at 9 boards a night.
The Tigers have not defended well in conference games, yielding over 72 points per contest, which is fortunate for a UGA team that has trouble putting the ball in the bucket – remember, the Dawgs are dead-last in offense in league games at 56.7 points per night.
Georgia’s scoring problem might have something to do with the fact that the team is only hoisting up just 45 field goal attempts per SEC game, which is worst in the league. The reason for the Dawgs’ low number of attempts: turnovers and a lack of presence on the offensive glass.
While Georgia only coughed the ball up 12 times against the Aggies, they are still averaging over 16 giveaways a night in league games. On top of that carelessness, when the Dawgs do manage to put up a shot, they rarely give themselves a second chance – UGA is snagging a conference-low 8.5 boards per SEC contest.
A win over Auburn would move Georgia into a tie with Tennessee for seventh place in the SEC. It would also move the Dawgs’ records – both overall and conference – one step closer to .500.
After a strong showing last Saturday against the Aggies, I am anxious to see how this UGA team handles a little bit of success.
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.