Up Next: Vanderbilt

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.

Side notes

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…

12 thoughts on “Up Next: Vanderbilt

  1. If our defense on the perimeter is not any better we will get eaten alive tomorrow night. Sometimes young teams that are “rebuilding” hit a ceiling in their development with a new coach. I have seen that in the last few games, our kids have not developed the emotional maturity to stop the other team on defense. Offense is about skill and execution, defense is about pride, communication, and most importantly effort. I think Coach Fox is smart enough not to lose what he is building on the rest of this year. I could tell he was ready to explode on Wednesday night, but lets remember we have beaten the Illini, the Vols, and oh yes Tech (they still suck). Those are three victories I doubt many of us figured we would get this year. All these close losses, while frustating right now, will benefit us in years to come.


  2. Insightful post macdaddy. Losing repeatedly can certainly wear on you and I hope that this team is not ready to throw in the towel. I suspect that practice this week was interesting to say the least. It is time for everybody to step up–the season is not lost , yet. Any kind of postseason participation (i.e., NIT if hey can get there) would do wonders for a young team like this going into next season. With the dawgs strength of schedule and RPI, it is certainly possible should they win 5 more games and a couple in the SEC tournament.


    1. The NIT would be amazing considering last year, but it’s going to take a major turnaround…Personally, I would love to go to an NIT game at the Steg….that would be really fun.


  3. The point about perimeter D is a great one. The lack of physical strength among our guards a la Sundiata or Rashad is a big factor. One possible short-term fix might be a commitment to at least a few hard fouls by our big guys. Because not only are our perimeter guys getting beat off the dribble, but these small opposing guards don’t seem to fear going to the hoop.

    I hereby nominate Chris Barnes as our “five fouls to give” guy. He’s not doing much else….


    1. What happened to the interior post D? Around the Illinois game, the Dawgs were one of the top teams in the country in blocks per game…I agree with you that too many guards are getting too many easy looks when they get in the lane.


  4. I (and the team) could really use a win. Let’s hope Price continues to develop the way he did last week and Thompkins brings his “A” game. Leslie will be Leslie hopefully.


  5. What a game! Was concerned about the TOs but loved the defense off the glass. Vandy missed a lot of shots early, which helped. But, with the Dawgs leading by 10, then trail by 8, I thought they may pack it in against a better than lower ranked team. But, they held on, played through their fatigue and took off to put it away by 14. Barnes missed a dunk at the end of the first half that had me ticked. He ended with 2 points. Ware got 10 while recovering from illness – manned up. Loved McPhee’s elbow into Ogilvy, but it shouldn’t been called a foul (6’1″ vs 6’11”). Ogilvy looked like a whimp taking his fake fall. Now it’s going to get interesting! Taking out a 17-4 (6-1 SEC) team will do wonders for confidence going on the road to Auburn, which should be another SEC win. But I won’t predict it here and jinx them (as I have in the past). Let’s go Dawgs-GATA! Woof-woof!


    1. At halftime I called a friend and said we didn’t even wait until the second half to fold our tent. How wrong I was! Travis Leslie turned that game around by taking the ball to the hole something like six possessions in a row. And then we put on a passing clinic with McPhee as the glue guy.

      Also great bench play by Price and especially Williams. And Ware had one of his best games, despite illness — note to Vandy, the zone press was useless!


      1. One of the first improvements I noticed Fox brought to the Dawgs was their passing early in the season. Crisp, quick and deadly assists. But the last few games it seemed to drop off with too many turnovers. Then Trey and others mentioned getting too lackadaisical, as I suspected, after they built leads. Well, Vandy got all of the early comments about passing in this game, and the Dawgs threw some very lackadaisical passes toward the end of the first half (for embarrassing TOs). But, in the end, their passing was the difference in taking over the game. When they get it all together; passing, shooting, boards… they are really going to garner some attention. Tenn. and Vandy will be tough on the road, esp. with the revenge factor, but I can see the Dawgs winning 5 out of their last 8 games with a potential surprise against Kentucky at home. With a good showing in the SEC Tourney, they should get post season play. The flip side may be they finish 4-4, and shock the world with an outrageous SEC TC, and get to the dance. Just dreamin’…


  6. @sansho1

    Vandy’s press was so weak. Tinsley had some quote on espn.com saying that UGA “figured it out” in the second half. I’m with you though, the press wasn’t forcing Georgia into turnovers…the turnovers were on sloppy passes in the half-court set.

    The Dawgs didn’t have any problems with that soft 2-2-1 zone press.


  7. Even though I can’t stand Larry Conley (he is so anti-uga), he makes a good point in that you rarely see the Dawgs take a bad shot on offense, the system is working (when we hold on to the ball).


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