The #18 Vanderbilt Commodores (17-4) come into Athens sporting the reciprocal of Georgia’s 1-6 SEC record (their only loss was at Kentucky).
Vandy has played well on the road this year, winning 5 out of 7 games away from their home court in Nashville, TN.
They are second in the SEC in scoring at 80.4 a game, and they lead the conference in both FG% (50.1%) and 3PT% (42.4%). Their offense is…efficient.
The ‘Dores attack teams with a well-oiled inside/out game. Senior point guard Jermaine Beal is a very tough match-up because he can create off the dribble and shoot it well from the outside. Beal is leading Vandy in scoring, pouring in 14.1 a night and burying 37.1% of his 3PT attempts.
Sophomore shooting guard Brad Tinsley is a nice complement to Beal, giving him someone to kick it to on penetration. Tinsley averages 7.3 points a game, and though he is only hitting 31.3% of his three’s this year you must be aware of where he in on the court because he is a career 38% shooter from beyond the arc.
The key to Vandy’s inside/out game is junior center A.J. Ogilvy, who at 6’11” and 250lbs can create some mismatches down low. Ogilvy is averaging 13.9 points and 6.0 rebounds, and he is the glue that holds it all together. If Ogilvy is able to establish himself and score in the paint, Vandy wins…it’s that simple. In their 4 losses this year, A.J. was held to 13, 8, 8 and 12, respectively. Once he gets going, it frees up everybody else on the perimeter and wing positions.
The rest of Vandy’s scoring comes from forwards Jeffrey Taylor, Andre Walker and guard John Jenkins. Taylor is a native of Sweden, and like the Swedes, he prefers to take it to the rim. He is a good athlete that is giving the ‘Dores 13.6 points and 5.2 rebounds a game.
Andre Walker rounds out the starting five, and he is a versatile player that can line up at both forward positions. He handles the ball well, making Vandy difficult to pressure on the perimeter. Walker is chipping in 6.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists.
Off the bench, the main guy to know on this team is freshman John Jenkins. Jenkins is the most highly decorated recruit to ever sign at Vandy. Jenkins can flat-out shoot it – hitting 49% of his three-point attempts and averaging 10.8 points (he averaged 42.3 points a game his senior year of high school!). He will definitely be one of the premier players in the SEC in the years to come.
Keys to the Game
There are two sides to every story
If the Georgia Bulldogs could have somehow convinced their first 7 SEC opponents into playing only one half, they would be 6-1 in the conference. Unfortunately for the Dawgs, they do not play in a bizzarro-world SEC, and they did have to go out and play those second halves…how unfortunate, indeed. Georgia is out-scoring SEC teams in the first half 38.4 to 33.7. In the second half, the Dawgs are getting outscored by an average of 34.0 to 41.7.
I don’t know if this is because of a lack of depth, focus, experience or all the above. Whatever it is, it has to stop. Georgia is nearly half-way through their SEC schedule, meaning that freshman are now considered sophomores and sophomores are viewed as upperclassmen. Ajax, McPhee, Thompkins, Ware, Leslie, Price, Barnes, etc…some of these guys need to step up and make it clear to everyone on the team that the game doesn’t end at the break. When the opponent comes out of the half and cranks up their defensive intensity, the Dawgs need to match that intensity on both sides of the ball.
Play Loose, Play Loose, Kick Off Your Sunday Shoes
I don’t even like that movie (Footloose), but I couldn’t think of any other good puns. The point is that Georgia is 1-6 in the conference and has lost a handful of close games. They can’t dwell on it though…Vanderbilt is the team with the national ranking and 6-1 SEC record. They are coming into Athens with a bullseye on their back, and the pressure that comes from the fear of losing to the “worst” team in the league. Hopefully Coach Fox has the guys nice and loose and ready to have some fun on Saturday night.
Since I started talking about the Dawgs’ impressive rebounding margin (which is still +4.4 and second in the conference), they have lost three straight games and got out-rebounded in two of them. So this is me “not mentioning” that I think that Georgia could have a rebounding advantage over Vandy. You did not hear it from me.
The game tips-off at 8:00PM, and it will be televised on Fox Sports Network if you can’t make the trip up to Athens, GA.
How is everyone feeling about this game? Hopefully interest has not dropped too much in the midst of this three-game losing streak…The Dawgs have finished with a winning record only once in the past five years, so this isn’t anything new to a Georgia Bulldogs basketball fan…