Dawgs Head to Florida

jarvis hayes
On January 19, 2002, Jarvis Hayes scored 23 points and the Dawgs won at Florida 84-79...this was the last time Georgia won at the O'Connell Center

The Georgia Bulldogs basketball team (9-8) rolls into Gainesville on Wednesday night to take on a hot Florida Gators team that is coming off a thrilling buzzer-beater win over South Carolina last Saturday.

The Gators have been somewhat of an anomaly this year.  Florida has recorded wins over Michigan State, NC State and Florida State, yet they lost at home to South Alabama and Richmond.

Billy Donovan’s squad started out conference play with back-to-back losses to Vanderbilt and Kentucky, but have since won three straight games to put them at 3-2 in the SEC.

On Wednesday, Mark Fox’s Dawgs will be trying to do something that hasn’t been done since the 2001-2002 season…win in Gainesville.  Last year in the game at Florida, the Gators lit up the Bulldogs with eleven 3-pointers in an 83-57 rout (and basically put the nail in Dennis Felton’s coaching coffin).

The SEC road has not been kind to the Dawgs over the years, as they have tallied up just 4 wins in the past 3 seasons coming into the 2009-2010 campaign (they are 0-2 this year away from The Steg in SEC play).

And to top it all off, the Florida Gators have now won 35 of their last 43 SEC home games.

This Gator squad’s strength is its backcourt, which may be one of the best in the country.  Freshman Kenny Boynton and sophomore Erving Walker account for 38% of Florida’s offense, combining for 27.4 points per game.  The Gators as a team hoist up twenty 3-pointers a game, and their starting guards are a big reason for that.  These two players have taken a total of 465 field goal attempts this year, and 256 of them were from 3-point range (that’s 55%!).  Walker is the better shooter of this tandem(38.2% 3PT), and he is also very good at creating his own shot off the dribble.

The Florida frontcourt is tall (yet thin) and features juniors Alex Tyus 6’8″, Chandler Parsons 6’9″, Vernon Macklin 6’10” and senior Dan Werner at 6’8″.  Tyus can score inside with his back to the rim, yet he also has a surprisingly soft touch from 15′-18′.  He is averaging 11.9 points a game, and is the Gators leading rebounder at 7.1 per contest.

Chandler Parsons (he hit the 3pt shot that beat SC) is averaging 10.7 points/6.6 boards, and he often looks to pop out for 3’s (shooting 35%).  Reserve Dan Werner is another guy that will shoot it from beyond the arc, yet so far this season he connecting only 30.2% of the time.

You may be noticing trend in Florida’s shot selection on offense – they like to jack it up from downtown.

The Gators are second in the conference in team defense, surrendering only 62.8 points per game.  However, they are second to last in blocks per game with only 2.95 per outing.  They do a good job of guarding the perimeter, but their bigs do not give them much support on the inside (Tyus and Parsons are awfully thin and struggle against wider opponents).

Keys to the Game

Handle the Pressure – Coach Fox’s team should expect to see a lot of full-court pressure from the Gators on Wednesday.  In last Saturday’s win over Tennessee, Georgia only saw token pressure from the Vols when bringing it up the court.  I expect Billy Donovan’s team to run a more aggressive full-court trap press, trying to force Georgia into turnovers.  The Gators prefer to play up-tempo, and will want to make this game somewhat chaotic and fast-paced.  Dustin Ware, Ricky McPhee, Vincent Williams and EA (Ebuka Anyaorah) need to play strong with the ball.  Trey Thompkins, Jeremy Price and Albert Jackson must be careful with their ball-reversal passes when taking on the press (can’t have a repeat of what happened at the end of the Mississippi State game).

Get in the (1-2-2) Zone! – Against Mississippi State and Tennessee, the Dawgs played in a 1-2-2 zone defense for the majority of both games (with Travis Leslie out on top).  This defensive set limits the number of quality looks for opponents from 3-point range.  Georgia held MSU and UT to 25.8% and 18.8% from beyond the arc, respectively.  Hopefully Fox will have his team in the same defense on Wednesday, ready to challenge and contest all Gator 3-point field goal attempts.  With Georgia’s size inside I don’t see the Gators getting too many second chances.

OutFox Them – Last Saturday was a good day for both of these programs.  Georgia ended a 10-game losing streak with their upset of the #8 Vols, and Florida won their 3rd straight SEC game on a thrilling last-second shot by Chandler Parsons.  How will these teams handle their recent successes?  Luckily for Coach Donovan, his Gator team is playing at home and will have a rowdy crowd backing them up.  Mark Fox has a greater challenge ahead of him – not only does he have to get his players focused on THIS game (and put the UT game in the past), but he also has to get them ready for another SEC road trip.  Hopefully Fox can keep his guys level-headed, and ready to dictate a slower tempo in this game.

The game tips off at 7PM EST and will be televised on CSS.  On the radio, you can listen to the first half on 750AM, and the second half on 97.1FM.

Side notes:

-Pat Forde of ESPN gave Mark Fox his “Coach who earned his comp car this week” award in his this week’s “Forde Minutes”.  He also proceeded to mention what none of us Georgia fans dare say at this point for fear that it won’t come true…the Dawgs have an outside shot at finishing .500 in the SEC.

-Congratulations again to Travis Leslie for nabbing the SEC Player of the Week award.  His dunks are becoming a regular part of ESPN’s Sportscenter highlights.

-During the Kentucky-South Carolina game on Tuesday night, ESPN analyst Jimmy Dykes (who was calling the game for ESPN) mentioned that he was looking forward to the Georgia-Florida matchup on Wednesday night.  Dykes went on to proclaim the Dawgs as the best team in the country to be ranked last in a conference, citing wins over Georgia Tech, Illinois and Tennessee.

Bonus side note from Hoop Dawg:

This is my first year with this blog, and I just wanted to say that I am loving all the comments!  Keep them coming…

It’s great to know that there are so many other fans of UGA basketball out there, and I love having a place like this where we can discuss the team, coaches, players, opponents, etc.

Anybody smell a Gator upset?

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14 thoughts on “Dawgs Head to Florida

  1. This site is great, keep updating regularly. I live in Chattanooga, so I don’t get to make many home games – but I did go to Gwinnett for the Illinois game. I for one thought we got a steal with Coach Fox last spring. He was consistently a winner at Nevada and those of us hoop junkies who follow the game know he is a great at game-planning against an opponent. Of course, we are all hoping for the big dance this year, but realistically an Nit bid would be unreal for this program and would be a tremendous springboard for next season. We have two tough road games this week, especially since Carolina took the Cats out last night. It would be great if we could split before our two home games next week. Go Dawgs!

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  2. Love the blog. I went to UGA during the Harrick years and have never seen a Dawgs basketball game. Currently live in Gainesville where they’ve won two championships since I’ve been here. If Florida can have a basketball program, so can Georgia. I am so excited to go to the game tonight and root for the Dawgs and so glad we finally have a program we can be proud of. Maybe next year (or more likely the year after) our relationship with Florida can be like our current relationship with Tech – beat them in both Basketball AND Football. People who say Dawgs don’t care about basketball don’t know what they’re talking about – if a team shows heart and the ability to win then respect and attention will follow. I couldn’t be happier with Mark Fox, just hope we can hang onto him and that he wants to finish what he has begun. Sic ‘Em!

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  3. I look for Price to build on his strong performance in the Tennessee game… having watched the UF/SC game on Saturday, if we can take care of the ball and get it inside, I think Trey, Big Al, and Price could have a big night against the Gators in the paint. They also have a better than average chance of pulling down offensive boards. But as I said, we must take care of the ball.

    Go Dawgs!

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    1. I think RedCrake is on to our advantage. Barnes, Price and Big Al should be able to push the Gators around a bit and dominate the rebounds lilke we did against UT. The real key for all three of those guys is finishing with a basket when they get it to the rim.

      Our inside advantage won’t matter though if we don’t keep our poise against their pressure.

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  4. Great preview.

    I’m concerned about how we match up against the Gators. You mention UF’s big men aren’t that stout, but they do at least have the size to defend against our inside game.

    I’m also waiting for an opposing coach to pack the zone on defense and force us to shoot more from outside.

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    1. Hopefully there aren’t any opposing coaches reading this blog, because I think you could be on to something…other than McPhee and Thompkins, the Dawgs don’t have too many consistent outside threats.

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  5. The blog is fantastic. Keep it up. There is no other viable option online to talk about the basketball team. Especially considering I’ll be in Europe the entire regular season, I need this to come though. My sports sanity is in your hands.

    About the game: I don’t know what to expect tonight. The only time I watched Florida play this year was the same night that we beat Illinois and they lost to USA. So maybe that was a good omen.

    Go DAWGS!!

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    1. “My sports sanity is in your hands”

      Sounds a bit like the character Brandt in the movie “The Big Lebowski” – “Her life is in your hands, dude…he asked me to repeat that…her life is in your hands”

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  6. Hey, guys… glad to see so much participation on this really neat blog! It’s a great day to be a round ball fan!

    I saw the end of the FLA/SC game and wondered why it was so low scoring (haven’t kept up with those teams) If UF only allows 62.8 points per game, I think the Dawgs can better that, esp. if Travis and Trey get hot. What worries me is overconfidence, coming off a big game vs. Tenn. where they fed off of the crowd and dominated that game from start to finish (TN’s missed shots and TOs helped too). Did you notice on a number of passes, and dunks, there were TN players standing around watching? I think the HoopDawgs’ crisp, quick passes in the TRI-Offense dazzled them a little. But, like last night’s Kentucky loss (after becoming #1), a team can get too caught up in their recent success to focus on the job at hand. However, I think our coach has their attention, and they will get the job done, if they don’t get too far behind early. Yes, I’m calling for the upset.

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  7. I dont think overconfidence will be an issue, after the GaTech win- we went to Lexington and outplayed the Cats for 30 minutes. The game tonight rides on our bench, if we can get some contributions from Price, EA, and Williams for a minute or two, I think we can win this one- we are due down there.

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