Georgia @ Auburn Wednesday 9:00PM EST

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Jeremy Price is averaging 9.5 points and 5.0 rebounds over his last two games.

The Georgia Bulldogs (10-11, 2-6 SEC) head to The Plains on Wednesday to take on the Auburn Tigers (11-12, 2-6 SEC).   The loser of this contest will earn sole possession of the SEC’s second-worst record.

The Auburn Tigers are 8-5 while playing at home this season, but their SEC home record sits at an abysmal 1-3 (the only win over 3-6 Alabama).

However, if there is one team in this conference that you can get healthy against on your home court it’s the Georgia Bulldogs.  The Dawgs are win-less in seven true road games, including 0-4 in SEC away match-ups.

The Tigers style of play is best described as chaotic.  They look to press teams, run the court and shoot threes.  And when I say “shoot threes”, I mean like no other team in the conference.  Auburn is hoisting up 25 three-pointers a game in SEC play, accounting for nearly 43% of their overall field goal attempts!

Unfortunately for the Tigers, they are only making 32.5% as a team from beyond the arc.  However, they are leading the SEC with 8.13 three-pointers made a game (mostly due to the sheer number of shots that they take).

Auburn’s backcourt features seniors DeWayne Reed and Tay Waller (a native of Manchester, GA), along with sophomore Frankie Sullivan.  The tallest of this bunch is Waller, who stands at a mere 6’2″.  This might explain their fondness for the long ball.

DeWayne Reed leads the Tigers in both scoring and assists, averaging 16.0 and 4.4 a game, respectively.  Sullivan is the most accurate shooter on the team, knocking down 39.7% from three-point range and scoring 13.4 a game.  Waller shoots 37.6% from beyond the arc, and is averaging 12.9 points.

Seniors Lucas Hargrove and Johnnie Lett round out Auburn’s starting frontcourt.  Hargrove (6’6″) is the team’s leading rebounder with 7.1 a game to go along with 13.3 points.  Lett is the taller of the two, standing at 6’8″ and weighing 210 pounds – he only nets 2.3 points a night.  Lett starts most games, but he actually yields a lot of playing time to reserve 6’10” senior center Brendan Knox.  Knox is averaging 8.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in only 20 minutes of play.

Auburn plays a lot of guys off the bench, but none of them average more than 3.5 points per game and thus seem unworthy of being mentioned.

Keys to the Game

Winning After A Win

Georgia followed up their win over Georgia Tech with a loss at Kentucky (forgivable).  The Dawgs followed up their win over Tennessee by getting blown out in Gainesville (not as forgivable).  Georgia is coming off its third win of the season over a ranked opponent (Vandy), and now the team heads back on the road…seeing the pattern here?  Hopefully Fox has everyone on the team focused on the upcoming task at hand, as opposed to rejoicing in last Saturday’s upset of then #18 ranked Vanderbilt.  It seems unlikely that Georgia could take Auburn lightly, especially since UGA has yet to win a game away from Athens this season.  But these are 18 and 19-year old kids, so anything is possible.

Tempo, Tempo

As I mentioned, Auburn likes to apply full-court pressure and play at a fast pace.  The Tigers are tied for second in the conference with 7.38 steals per game.  Georgia is last in the SEC in turnover margin at -5.5, and the Dawgs are giving the ball away 17.3 times a game.  If Georgia’s guards are careless with the ball (see Missouri, Kentucky, Miss St or Florida games) and can’t handle the press this game could get ugly.

However, if UGA breaks the press and turns this thing into a half-court  game, I don’t see how Auburn can compete.  The Tigers are last in the conference in scoring defense, surrendering 77.2 a game in SEC play.    The Georgia bigs will have a distinct size advantage inside and should look to exploit it all night.  Auburn’s SEC rebounding margin is -1.5 per game, which is to be expected considering their small lineup.

Coach Mark Fox will want his guys to play half-court ball and totally dominate the paint.

Mix It Up

The last two games, Georgia has played primarily man-to-man defense the entire game (which I love).  However, due to Auburn’s preference for shots from outside the three-point line, it might be beneficial to the Dawgs to mix in some of their 1-2-2 zone as well.  Offenses can struggle when they face multiple defensive sets, and the 1-2-2 zone will still allow Georgia to contest three-point attempts (the 1-2-2 zone worked very well against MSU earlier in the year – another team that likes to chuck it)

Bonus Note

Several of this blog’s regular commentors have mentioned the marked improvement in Georgia’s passing game since the arrival of Coach Fox.  As of February 6th, 2010, the Dawgs are leading the SEC with 15.0 assists per game!

Not to fluff Coach Fox’s feathers too much, but his UGA squad is also leading the conference in field goal and three-point percentage at 49.2% and 42.7%, respectively.

Thank you Triangle Offense!

Don’t forget to vote for Travis Leslie as the Best Dunker in the SEC

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12 thoughts on “Georgia @ Auburn Wednesday 9:00PM EST

  1. This seems like this should be the first game we win on the road. We’ve shown we can at least handle the press better than in past season. Thankfully Dustin Ware can dribble the ball up past half-court when pressured by a couple guys unlike Corey Butler/Zach Swansey. This year we were able to deal with UT’s press and beat the snot out of them, and Auburn doesn’t have near the talent as UT. I’d like to say we’ll win, but like you said, they are 18-20 year olds, anything could happen.

    GO DAWGS!!

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    1. UT didn’t give the Dawgs their typical full-court trap press (because of their lack of depth)…they guarded the ball and then backed off.

      If Auburn runs something at UGA ala Florida, it will be interesting to see how Dawgs handle it.

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  2. Great pre-game analysis, love the blog. If the dawgs can stay calm under the press they certainly have a shot at walking away with their first SEC road win. Also need to keep up and put pressure on Auburn’s threes. Go Dawgs!

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  3. Put pressure on the threes, contest the threes, block the threes. Do not foul on the threes. I’m looking at you McPhee….

    Who am I kidding…. I can’t stay mad at you Ricky. Everytime you maul a guy behind the line, you turn around and shoot a 25 foot nothing but net shot or create something out of nothing with a silky smooth assist inside off the baseline. But seriously, lay off the 3 point fouls — tell your teammates!

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    1. Good point RedCrake…is that two games in a row now where McPhee has committed a silly foul on a three-point shot? At 6’2″, I don’t see Ricky blocking too many three-point attempts.

      I love watching him play, but hopefully he will get that part of his game cleaned up.

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  4. lets get this tonight, I am pumped- have the kids in bed by 900 and let the wife watch American Idol (I hate that show), college basketball rocks. I hope Trey gets 25 tonight.

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  5. I listened to the first couple of segments on the radio — sounds like Thompkins wasn’t ready to play. Coach Fox needs to guard against some bad oncourt habits by our best player — I sense a lack of focus at times.

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  6. I know one thing, Thompkins needs to quit thinking he is a point guard. When you rebound the ball, get it to a guard and get up the floor.

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