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Kentucky whips Georgia in Lexington

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Here are some of my thoughts from that 82-48 shellacking:

Epic scoring drought

Georgia, a team that has had its offensive issues as of late, took it to a whole new level in Lexington on Tuesday night.  To be specific, Kenny Gaines hit a three-pointer to cut the Kentucky lead to 19-13 with 13:36 left in the half, and then UGA didn’t score a field goal for the next 18 minutes.  Let that sink in for a second.

By the time Charles Mann finally broke the dry spell on a lay up in the second half, Kentucky’s lead had grown to 52-26 with a little over 15 minutes remaining in the game.  Not making any field goals for nearly half the game is a recipe for disaster against just about any college basketball team, but it’s especially detrimental when it happens at Rupp against the #22 Wildcats.  Georgia’s 11 field goals tonight set a season low for Power 5 conference teams (UGA hit just 22% of its attempts from the floor).

Kentucky experienced an offensive rut of its own in the first half, going almost 7 minutes without a field goal, which allowed the Dawgs to get to within 6 points. Coach Calipari’s team snapped out of its funk, though, while Georgia didn’t, ending any hopes that Coach Fox’s team might have had of keeping the game close heading into the intermission; Kentucky led 42-24 at the break.

Kentucky’s backcourt dominance

UGA came into Rupp hoping that its backcourt would carry them on the road.  Unfortunately, the Dawgs trio of J.J. Frazier, Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines were simply outplayed by the Wildcat guards.  Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis scored 24 and 14, respectively, with Murray knocking down 6 of his 10 three-point attempts.  In addition to his 14 points, Ulis had 8 assists and 3 steals, and he had J.J. Frazier’s number from the opening tip.

Frazier, Gaines and Mann combined for just 21 points, hitting 5 of their collective 24 attempts from the field. Frazier, who had only 4 of those points, failed to connect from the floor, missing all 8 of his attempts.

Turnover differential

The Dawgs do not have the firepower on their roster to go into Lexington and play sloppy, and yet, that’s exactly what happened on Tuesday night for Coach Fox’s team.  Credit the Wildcats – they have great athletes and Calipari does get them to play hard man defense. But Georgia was extremely careless with the ball on Tuesday, turning it over 15 times. Unfortunately, Kentucky committed just 7 turnovers, so Georgia gifted the Wildcats, who made over 52% from the floor, an extra 8 possessions.  The culprit for 6 of UGA’s turnovers was none other than senior Charles Mann.

Georgia is now 13-9 overall and 6-5 in the SEC. Sadly, UGA just made its second consecutive appearance on ESPN’s “Bubble Watch” prior to tonight’s game. But after suffering their second beatdown to a ranked team on national television, the Dawgs are more than likely off that bubble now.

UGA has a couple of days off before hitting the road again to take on Missy State in Starkville this Saturday night.

 

 

Written by hoopdawg

February 9, 2016 at 11:15 pm

J.J. Frazier’s stellar season

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Back in November of last year, both Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann were selected to the Preseason All-SEC team.  In fact, they were both First Team selections.

Odds are that neither of them will be on the First Team when the teams are chosen at the conclusion of the year.  Gaines, who is averaging 13.5 points per SEC game, may wind up on the Second Team.

Barring an epic meltdown, Georgia should have a representative from its backcourt on that First Team, though; and that person is J.J. Frazier.

Frazier is having a fantastic SEC season, and he is on the leaderboard in 7 out of the 13 categories that the conference tracks. Four of those statistical areas pertain to rebounding and blocked shots, which J.J. can hardly be faulted for since he is typically the smallest player on the court (yet he is second on the UGA team in rebounding, grabbing 4.9 a game on the year).

In conference games, Frazier is netting nearly 17 points a night, and he is making almost 45% of his three-point attempts. J.J. has a stellar assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.7.  Oh yeah, and he’s leading everyone with 2.5 steals a contest in league games.

While Frazier’s perimeter shooting has been remarkable thus far, it’s certainly not his only weapon.  Everyone remembers Frazier’s 37-point effort against Missy State last year, a game in which J.J. nailed all 7 of his three-point shots. The problem with that game, though, was that it let the cat out of the bag on Frazier, warning the rest of the league that he needed to be guarded closely beyond the arc.  For the most part, teams obliged, keeping a defender close to J.J. at all times, which severely limited his open outside looks. The result: Frazier only scored in double-figures 5 times in the remaining 14 games.

The issue was that last season J.J.’s offense centered around three-pointers.

This year, however, that is not the case.  Frazier has shown his ability to take the ball to the rim this season, and if defenders play him too tight on the perimeter, he just goes by them. Last year, only 39% of J.J.’s field goals were two-pointers. This season, that number has risen to 50%, and the year isn’t over yet.  Offensively, Frazier is much more dynamic this season compared to last.

Simply put, Frazier is integral to UGA’s success.  He and Yante Maten are the two guys that Coach Fox must have on the court and out of foul trouble if this team is going to make a late-season push for the NCAA tournament.

Georgia is just 3-5 this year in games in which Frazier scores 12 points or less, and they are 10-3 on the season when he goes over that number.

Written by hoopdawg

February 7, 2016 at 1:49 pm

Late surge lifts Dawgs over Gamecocks

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With their postseason dreams on the ropes and a double-digit halftime lead all but gone, UGA dug in and found a way to win against #25 South Carolina over the final stretch of tonight’s game in Athens.

The Gamecocks, who shot just 21% from the floor before the break, started to knock down shots in the second half; after Duane Notice buried a three from the corner, USC trailed Georgia 50-48 with 6:34 left.

On the ensuing possession, Kenny Gaines tipped in a Michael Edwards miss.  Then he took a Carolina miss the length of the floor and finished over a falling Michael Carrera, putting the Dawgs back up 54-48 with 5:17 remaining.

J.J. Frazier, who played sparingly in the first half due to foul trouble, knocked down two huge three’s during this same time span.  The second one he hit falling into the UGA bench, yet he somehow managed to draw nothing but net, sending the Dawgs up 62-53 with under 2 minutes left in the game.  This shot by Frazier sent the Stegeman crowd into pandemonium, and Georgia won its first game of the year against a ranked opponent, downing the Cocks 69-56 in Athens.

Coach Mark Fox had to be pleased with his team’s defensive effort on the night.  Other than a few lapses at the top of the key in the second half, the Dawgs defended Carolina well, contesting nearly every shot.  The Cocks entered this evening’s contest making more than 44% of their shots from the field, yet UGA limited them to only 31% from the floor.  USC’s 56 point effort tonight was its second-lowest offensive output of the season.  On the year, Frank Martin’s team’s scoring has been incredibly balanced, with five players averaging in double-figures.  However, Sindarius Thornwell and Carrera were the only Gamecocks to finish with over 10 points tonight, scoring 18 and 11, respectively.

The Dawgs certainly were not spectacular on offense, shooting under 39% from the field, but as I mentioned above, Coach Fox’s team made shots when they needed to in this game.  Yante Maten led all UGA scorers with 18 points to go along with 8 rebounds and 4 blocks.  South Carolina’s Mindaugas Kacinas simply couldn’t handle Maten as Yante consistently drove the ball at him and scored on a series of acrobatic shots.

Kenny Gaines finished with 17 points, and Frazier and Charles Mann chipped in 13 and 11, respectively.

This win is easily Georgia’s biggest of the season, and not only because the Gamecocks are ranked in both the AP and Coaches Poll.  In addition to those accolades, Frank Martin’s team is currently sitting with an RPI of 28.

The Dawgs are 12-8 overall and 5-4 in the SEC, and with Tennessee knocking off #20 Kentucky this evening, Georgia has a chance to move into the upper echelon of the SEC standings this Saturday if they can hold serve at home against Auburn (Florida heads to Kentucky and USC visits Texas A&M).   If UGA wants to play any postseason games this year, then they have to put together a bit of a winning streak.

Again, Georgia has Auburn in Athens on Saturday, which is a game the Dawgs should win. Unless, of course, they are peeking ahead at next Tuesday’s prime time matchup in Lexington against Kentucky.

 

 

Written by hoopdawg

February 2, 2016 at 9:54 pm

Assessing some of Georgia’s most glaring weaknesses

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Free throws

The Bulldogs are shooting under 68% as a team from the free throw line this season, which is just good enough to be 254th in the nation in that category.  The Dawgs have already lost four games this season by less than 5 points.  While all those losses cannot be attributed to ineptness from the charity stripe, it is safe to say that UGA’s record would be better than 11-8 if they could make more shots when the clock is stopped.

Georgia’s inability to hit free shots should not be that surprising, though, considering that this team doesn’t have that many shooters.  Actually, they have two shooters: Kenny Gaines and J.J. Frazier.  So, why would should anyone expect them to hit a high percentage of free throws as a team?

The concerning thing about UGA’s free throw issues is that under Mark Fox, Georgia has never really shot the ball well from the line.  Only once in the last six years has a Mark Fox team finished above 70% from the stripe.  The one time it happened was in Fox’s first year, back in the 2009-2010 season.

Disappointing second halves

Last night, Georgia got pummeled by Baylor coming out of the locker room. The Bears went on a 17-2 run after the break, erasing UGA’s three-point halftime lead before most fans had a chance to return to their seats.

Georgia’s poor performance in the final 20 minutes of last night’s game was in line with what is becoming a trend this season.  Put simply: UGA hasn’t been getting it done in the scoring column after halftime.  On the season, the Dawgs rank 182 in the country in 2nd half scoring, with an average margin of -0.3.  Georgia is actually scoring more than their opponents at home after the break, sporting a positive margin of 2.3. But on the road, things have unraveled for UGA following the intermission, with opponents averaging nearly 6 more points per second half.  Interestingly, the Dawgs do average more points on the road than their opposition during the first twenty minutes; it’s those final twenty that have been doing Georgia in.

Serious depth issues

At the start of the season, Mark Fox was pleased with his team’s depth.

I wonder how he feels about it now?

Last night was the second time this week that UGA’s second leading scorer, Yante Maten, had to sit for an extended portion of the game due to foul trouble.  And when Yante sits, Georgia becomes very easy to defend, since without him they have virtually zero presence in the paint.

Prior to the start of the season, I said that Fox would need one of his freshman to step up immediately and fill the role vacated by Neme Djurisic. UGA needed someone to provide consistent scoring and rebounding at the fifth spot in the lineup.

So far, that hasn’t happened.

Collectively, Derek Ogbeide and Michael Edwards have replaced Djurisic’s rebounding and then some. Last year, Neme grabbed 5 boards a night; this season, the two frosh together are bringing in nearly 8 rebounds per game.

They haven’t filled Neme’s role as a scorer, though.  Djurisc netted 11 points a contest for Fox in his senior season, yet Ogbeide and Edwards are combining for just 6.5 a game.

I understand that they are both still young, but one of them needs to become more of a scoring threat sooner rather than later because right now Georgia is just too easy to guard, especially so when Maten in on the bench.

Ogbeide has shown flashes offensively, scoring a season-high 10 points at Ole Miss in January.  Last night in Waco, he had two nice post moves in the first half. However, he only played 16 minutes.  Ogbeide is either not fully-conditioned to play bigger minutes, or Fox doesn’t have the confidence in him yet to give him more time on the court.  If it’s the latter, I hope that Fox loosens the reigns as the season progresses because I think Ogbeide is ready for more.

 

Written by hoopdawg

January 31, 2016 at 1:43 pm

Baylor’s big second half overwhelms Georgia in Waco

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Georgia played a great first half.

Georgia played a not so great second half.

The Dawgs gutted out the first 20 minutes with little help from Yante Maten, who was on the bench with foul trouble for nearly 16 minutes to start the game. However, UGA was able to slow things down, and thanks to a combined 18 points from J.J. Frazier and Kenny Gaines, the Dawgs actually took a 35-32 lead into the intermission on the road in Waco.

Baylor rocked Georgia coming out of the break, though, going on a 17-2 run that saw them run the score up to 49-37 after a free throw by Rico Gathers with 16:03 left in the game. The Dawgs fought, but they couldn’t ever recover from this onslaught from the Bears.

Georgia packed in their defense in the first half, daring Baylor to shoot it from the outside, and for twenty minutes, it worked. But once the Bears found their stroke from the perimeter, UGA’s defense became vulnerable. After only hitting 1 three-pointer in the first half, the Bears caught fire in the final 20 minutes, knocking down 6 shots from beyond the arc following the intermission.

Baylor ended up besting the Dawgs by a score of 83-73.

The Bears were led by Gathers, who scored 17 points to go along with his 9 rebounds. Baylor had 5 players finish in double-figures, and they shot over 45% as a team from the floor.

The Dawgs ended up with 4 players finishing in double-figures, with Frazier leading the way with 21 points and 11 assists, his first double-double of the year. Maten, who played limited minutes, netted 18 points to go with his 7 rebounds. Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann ended up with 14 and 13 points, respectively.

While Georgia was an 11-point underdog heading into tonight’s game, the Dawgs gave the UGA fanbase hope by playing an inspired first half. However, Coach Mark Fox’s team came out flat during one of the most critical stretches of any basketball game – the first 5 minutes of the second half – and Georgia paid dearly by having to play uphill for the final 20 minutes.

This loss puts the Dawgs at 11-8 on the season, and it leaves their NCAA tournament chances looking bleak at best. At this point, Coach Mark Fox needs something short of a “Dennis Felton-esque” tornado to enable his team to win the SEC tournament if UGA has any hopes of dancing. For Georgia, the NIT is looking like a more attainable goal; though the Dawgs need to string together a few wins at some point for the NIT to even materialize.

Written by hoopdawg

January 30, 2016 at 8:32 pm

Dawgs fall to Tigers 89-85

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Three-point trouble

Despite being generally outplayed and out rebounded for the first twenty minutes of this one, Georgia found itself trailing LSU by just 3 points heading into the locker room, the score 33-30 in favor of the Tigers.  LSU struggled mightily from the perimeter before the break, missing all 7 of their attempts.

The second half was a different story, though.  The Tigers found their stroke from the outside, knocking down 6 of 12 shots from beyond the arc, which fueled the LSU win.

Georgia entered tonight’s game shooting over 40% from the perimeter in conference games, yet the Bulldogs shot an abysmal 6 for 23 from the outside.  Kenny Gaines and J.J. Frazier combined to shoot only 6 of 19 on the evening.

Fouls, fouls and more fouls

The referees in Baton Rouge whistled an astounding 55 fouls on Tuesday night.  This game marked the second time this season that the Dawgs have played in a game in which over 50 fouls were called (63 fouls were assessed in the Chattanooga game).  The game clock seemed to be moving in slow motion around the 10-minute mark of the second half, when nearly every trip down the floor resulted in a stoppage of play.

All of the fouling turned out to be more advantageous for the Tigers as they shot 55 free throws to Georgia’s 24. LSU standout Ben Simmons, who scored 22 points to go along with 14 rebounds, attempted 17 shots from the stripe himself; fortunately for UGA he only made 10 of those attempts.

Georgia’s leading scorer, Yante Maten, fouled out with over 9 minutes remaining in the contest, leaving with only 5 points in 20 minutes of play.

While LSU took more than double the free throws than UGA tonight, the Dawgs once again didn’t do themselves any favors from the line. Georgia entered this one making under 63% from the stripe in conference games, which ranks them 12 out of 14 in the league in that category.  This evening, UGA once again shot below 63% on its free throws, leaving precious points on the table in a game that Georgia lost 89-85.

 

Ball Security

Teams that want to go on the road and win conference games must protect the ball.

Georgia committed 12 turnovers against LSU in Baton Rouge, which is nowhere near their highest output of the season. However, the Tigers only gave the ball away 9 times, meaning that UGA once again finished a game with a negative turnover margin. The Dawgs came into this game with the 2nd worst turnover margin in the league in SEC games at -3.1. For a team that struggles enough as it is to score points, Georgia cannot afford to give its opponents extra offensive opportunities.

 

Written by hoopdawg

January 26, 2016 at 11:40 pm

Dawgs survive late scare from Hogs

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Georgia won a game it had to on Saturday, besting the Arkansas Razorbacks (9-10) 76-73 in overtime in Athens.

This Arkansas team did beat Vanderbilt in OT, and they lost by two the road against LSU earlier in the month.  But, the Hogs also lost to Akron and Mercer back in the 2015 part of the season.

While this Razorback team did play aggressive man defense for much of the night, Georgia should not have had to work so hard to escape at home.

The Dawgs seemingly had this one wrapped up in overtime following a layup by Yante Maten that put his team up 74-68 with only 31 seconds left.  However, Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann missed their next four free throws, which put Arkansas in a position to tie the game with 6 seconds remaining. Fortunately for UGA, Anthlon Bell’s half court prayer fell way short, giving Georgia the victory.

The Dawgs were very fortunate to even see OT.  After falling behind 64-62 with 47 ticks on the clock, Georgia’s J.J. Frazier earned a trip to the line with an opportunity to tie the game.  Both Frazier’s attempts clunked off the rim, but luckily for the Dawgs Arkansas’s Moses Kingsley fell down securing the rebound, giving UGA the ball via a traveling violation.

Frazier scored on the ensuing possession to tie the game, but the Hogs still had possession with a chance to win and just 24 seconds remaining.  Coach Anderson’s team couldn’t capitalize though, tossing the ball out of bounds off of a deflection by Kenny Paul Geno.  The culmination of both of those extremely fortunate plays enabled UGA to see overtime, which ultimately led to the win.

Offensively, the Dawgs were carried by Frazier, who scored a team-high 26 points.  Georgia’s offense is so dependent upon Frazier right now it’s scary.  Without him, well, it’s just hard to imagine what that might look like.

Yante Maten went for yet another double-double, netting 17 points to go along with 12 rebounds.  Kenny Gaines was the only other UGA player to finish in double-digits, scoring 16 points.

The Hogs were led offensively by Dusty Hannahs, who dropped a team-high 24 points.

Charles Mann went 3 for 9 from the floor, which has become typical for him, ending up with only 8 points.

The Dawgs’ free throw shooting almost led to their demise in tonight’s contest as UGA hit just 53% from the charity stripe.  Georgia’s inconsistency at the line this season has left the door open for opposing teams in a number of games.

Georgia crushed Arkansas on the glass, winning the rebounding battle 46-36.  UGA did shoot the ball better than Arky (44% to 39%), so some rebounding discrepancy should be expected. However, Georgia had 13 offensive boards to the Hogs’ 9, yet the Dawgs had just 2 more second chance points.

Coach Mark Fox got only 2 points from his bench, while Mike Anderson saw his reserves score 21 points on the night.  Turtle Jackson, Kenny Paul Geno, Mike Edwards and Derek Obeide went a combined 0 for 4 from the field.  Edwards did manage to snag 7 rebounds, though. Still, Georgia must get more production from its bench going forward, or they are going to struggle, especially on the road.

Speaking of the road, UGA has two away games next week: a conference game at LSU and then a difficult non-conference matchup in Waco against Baylor.

While beating Arkansas did bolster Georgia’s overall record to 11-6 and 4-3 in the SEC, it did little to improve UGA’s NCAA stock.  The Razorbacks’s RPI is 100.

 

Winning in Baton Rouge would be great, but the Tigers possess an RPI of 95.  Earning a victory against a ranked Baylor team with an RPI of 15 – well, that would be amazing.

 

Written by hoopdawg

January 23, 2016 at 11:29 pm

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