Rebels Edge Out Dawgs 80-76

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?

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