Posts Tagged ‘Mississippi’
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.
Georgia (12-13, 6-6) was just a Donte Williams alley-oop dunk away from stunning Ole Miss on their home floor in Oxford on Saturday night.
With a hair over a half of a second remaining in regulation, Coach Mark Fox drew up a beautiful inbounds play that featured Williams screening high for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. As Fox and Georgia expected, the Rebels overloaded help to a curling KCP, leaving Donte alone to glide to the rim. Neme tossed him a perfect pass and had Wiliams not been mauled by the Ole Miss defender he would have surely finished it with a game-winning flush.
Unfortunately, no foul was called.
Instead, the two teams went to overtime locked up at 70 apiece. The Rebels – up 78-74 with 1:06 left in the overtime – put the stamp on this victory on a side out play that left Murphy Holloway with the ball and no one on him as the shot clock was about to expire. Instinctively, Holloway drove to the basket and took the free lay-up, putting his team up 80-74. After a few more free throws, Ole Miss would lead 84-74 when the clock ran out.
Credit Georgia for giving a Herculean effort in a very hostile environment against one of the SEC’s better teams. The Dawgs hung tight with the Rebels in a game that featured 17 lead changes and five minutes of free basketball.
With just 3:54 remaining in regulation, the Dawgs appeared in control following a three-pointer from KCP, extending the UGA advantage to 64-56.
Marshall Henderson, who had played sparingly much of the night due to foul trouble, responded at a point when his team desperately needed him. Henderson scored the next 14 Rebel points and played a major role in getting his squad into the overtime. Henderson finished the game with 25 points, going a perfect 14 of 14 from the charity stripe.
For Georgia, Pope led the way with 19 points to go along with 12 rebounds, marking his fourth double-double of the year.
Everyone contributed for Coach Fox in this game, and his team dominated a physical Ole Miss team 39-22 on the boards. Kenny Gaines and Donte Williams both reached double-digits, scoring 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Gaines, who fouled out late in this game, notched his points in just 18 minutes of play. One thing is for certain, Kenny Gaines is ready to be playing significant minutes for this Georgia team for the remainder of the season. He is looking more confident and smooth with the basketball, and I anticipate that he will continue to provide offensive support down the stretch.
The Dawgs get a bit of a breather before they hit the road again next Thursday to take on Arkansas in Fayetteville.
At this point, it appears Georgia can play with anyone in the SEC.
With the Rebels up 78-76, Ole Miss guard Eniel Polynice was in-bounding the ball under the Dawgs’ basket with 5 seconds left on the shot clock (26 ticks left in the game). Travis Leslie was defending his man with his back to Polynice. Polynice then proceeded to throw the ball off Leslie’s back, stepped in-bounds to pick up the ball and then finished with a lay-up over Trey Thompkins to put the Rebels up 80-76 with only 11.5 seconds left (essentially sealing the win and making it on to Sportscenter’s “Top Plays”). What a disheartening way to lose?!?!
Georgia came out of the gates running and gunning (certainly not the Bulldogs style), with Thompkins leading the way. Trey hit his first 6 field goal attempts and had 13 points before the game was even 10 minutes old (unfortunately he went scoreless for the next 19 minutes).
Mississippi tried to dictate a fast-paced game early by coming out in an extended 3-2 zone defense, trying to jump into the pass lanes. Georgia handled it very well and was successful in getting a lot of cutters going to the rim. The first half was played a bit sloppy by both teams, but the Dawgs held a 43-42 lead at the half (I couldn’t believe UGA had 43 points at the half!).
Countless basketball analysts always preach about the last four minutes of the first half and the first four minutes of the second half as being the most important of the game…last night’s contest was no exception.
The Rebels came out of the half in an intense man defense that was forcing the Georgia guards to work well outside the perimeter (making it difficult for them to get the ball inside). In the first 9 minutes of the second half, Thompkins only attempted 2 field goals and didn’t score until he knocked down a pair of free throws for with 10:57 remaining.
Georgia also came out in the second half in a man defense (they played mostly zone in the first) and this may have been a costly mistake. Rebels’ star Terrico White attacked UGA defenders off the dribble and netted 8 points in the first 3 minutes…opening up a 52-47 lead.
Georgia did eventually drop back into a zone was able to draw even with Ole Miss with 9:35 left in the game.
If you look at the box score it’s tough to find reasons why Georgia lost this one. The Dawgs had only 13 turnovers (half of the number they had against Kentucky) to go along with 14 assists (a positive assist/turnover ratio). UGA out-rebounded the Rebels 36-31 and got to the free throw line more (34 attempts for Georgia, 26 for Ole Miss).
I thought that all and all the Dawgs played pretty well and just lost a close game to another ranked opponent.
Travis Leslie put in another great effort, scoring 17 points, grabbing 8 rebounds and dishing out 4 assists. His streak of appearing on ESPN’s “Top Plays” ended at two, although he did make a couple of plays that I thought were possibly worthy – an alley-oop dunk on a pass from Trey Thompkins (same as play against Tech); a come-from-behind block that he made on a fast break.
Ricky McPhee hit 5 of 9 field goal attempts and finished with 15 points. He did surrender those points to Terrico White at the start of the second half, but that was a tall order asking McPhee to guard one of the SEC’s best guards.
From the bench, I thought that Chris Barnes and Jeremy Price both gave the Dawgs solid contributions. In merely 8 minutes, Barnes scored 4 points and pulled down 4 boards. Price attacked the offensive glass all night, bringing in 6 offensive rebounds and 8 in all (if only he could have knocked down one of his two put-backs in the last 1:30 of the game Georgia would have tied it up).
Moving forward, UGA is going to have to get more production from the back-up point guard position. Against the Rebels, freshman PG Vincent Williams had 4 turnovers in only 6 minutes! When Dustin Ware wasn’t in the game, the offense essentially came to a halt.
I haven’t said anything up to this point, but I do not understand the role that sophomore Russian Drazen Zlovaric plays. In 6 minutes last night, he clanked two jump shots. On the season (142 total minutes played), he is shooting a robust 25% from the field (8 of 32) and has yet to connect from behind the arc in 6 attempts. What exactly is his role?
As it stands, Georgia is now 8-7 on the season and 0-2 in SEC Play.
What’s everyone thinking?
Mississippi (12-3) is ranked #21 in the AP poll and #23 in the Coaches. Seeing a trend here? Wednesday night’s game in Athens will mark the Dawgs’ third straight game against a ranked opponent (Georgia Tech & Kentucky being the other two).
Ole Miss returns all five starters from last year’s team, along with freshman forward Reginald Buckner. Buckner (6’8″, 233lbs) has provided some much-needed size on the inside for the Rebels, averaging 2.2 blocks and nearly 5 rebounds per game. Last season Ole Miss finished 10th in the conference in blocks at 3.3 a game; this year they are 4th in the conference at 6.2 a game.
The main thing that the Rebels do well is score (a very important part of the game of basketball). Ole Miss is leading the SEC in scoring at 83.6 points a game. They have five players that average in double-figures (balanced enough?).
Leading the way for the Rebel attack are guards Chris Warren (junior) and Terrico White (sophomore), who are both averaging 16.7 points per game (or 40% of Mississippi’s offense). White exploded on to the SEC basketball scene last year as a freshman, averaging 13.7 points and winning the league’s SEC Freshman of the Year award. He built up a reputation as a Sky-Walker after throwing down a monster dunk on Kentucky’s Patrick Patterson last season. White flirted with the idea of going pro following his freshman year, but unfortunately for Georgia he decided to come back and give college another try (and thus has Ole Miss ranked and ready to get an NCAA tournament bid).
It will be a homecoming game of sorts for Ole Miss reserve, Zach Graham, who is providing some effective bench production at 10.7 points and 3.9 rebounds a game…Graham is a native of Suwanee, GA.
Ole Miss is leading the SEC in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.31, which is probably fairly common of teams that return a lot of players. They play smart with the basketball and will probably not be very intimidated by the fact that they are on the road.
“Keys to the Game”
Play to Your Strengths – so far this year it seems that the Dawgs have been most successful when they slow the game down, and get physical inside (with Thompkins, Barnes, Price and Jackson UGA is equipped with a plethora of meaty bigs). Georgia is actually 4th in the conference in rebounding margin at +3.2 a game. Georgia needs to dictate a slow pace in this one so that their bigs can have time to get down and work the offensive and defensive glass. One way to slow things down considerably is to pack it in and run a half-court zone defense. Mississippi State did this for a majority of the second half in their upset win at Ole Miss last Saturday…I think the Dawgs would be wise to mimic this strategy.
“Help! You know I need somebody. Help! Not just anybody. Help… – The Dawgs’ starters (or the “Big Four” as I like to call them) are playing way too many minutes. Ware and McPhee each average just under 30 minutes a game, while Thompkins is notching 28.9 and Leslie 25.4 (and all four go well above their averages against stronger opponents like Georgia Tech and Kentucky). This cannot continue if Georgia hopes to finish the season strong. Several bench players need to step up and become regular contributors…Jeremy Price, Chris Barnes and Ebuka Anyaorah, I am definitely looking your way on this one. All three of these guys have provided sparks off the bench in games this year, but none of them have done it on a night in/night out basis.
– Terrico White and Trey Thompkins were teammates last summer on the USA’s Under-19 basketball team
– Since losing at home to Wofford, Georgia has won 6 straight at home
– Travis Leslie is averaging 1.5 ESPN “Top Plays” highlights per game over the last two contests
The game tips off at 8pm Wednesday night and will be televised on the SEC Network (aka Peachtree TV)…as always on the radio at 750AM.