Georgia came out of the gates Wednesday night playing a 1-2-2 zone, slowing the pace of the game and forcing Tennessee to shoot outside jump shots. This strategy played out perfectly for the Dawgs in the first half, as Tennessee made only 11 of 29 from the field (38%), including 1 of 10 from three-point range.
Despite not having Travis Leslie on the court for nearly 10 minutes of the half (he picked up 2 fouls early), Georgia fed the ball to Trey Thompkins over and over and was able to build up a 29-24 lead going into the break.
Raise your hand if you felt comfortable with the Dawgs lead at the half? If you raised your hand, then you haven’t seen many Georgia basketball games this year…
The Dawgs came out of the halftime break and once again fell asleep on the defensive end. The first 4 minutes of the second half were hard to watch, as Tennessee shredded the 1-2-2 zone by attacking the rim without any resistance from the Georgia defenders.
Mark Fox then tried switching to a man defense, which in turn led to a barrage of J.P. Prince dunks (he had zero points in the first half; 15 in the second). I am not sure where Ricky McPhee was on the court, but he repeatedly lost Prince on backdoor cuts which resulted in dunk, after dunk, after dunk (to McPhee’s credit, this was a horrible match-up for him since Prince had a 6″ height advantage).
Tennessee scored on its first 10 possessions of the second half…I repeat, Tennessee scored on its first 10 possessions of the half. UGA did not secure a defensive rebound and take it to the other end of the court for an offensive possession until Albert Jackson grabbed a miss by Scotty Hopson with 12:48 remaining.
The Vols pounded the ball inside, and shot a much-improved 55% from the field (they only attempted four 3-point shots in the second half – they made 2 of them).
The only thing that kept Georgia in this game at all was the brilliant play of Trey Thompkins. He finished the night with 25 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks…Trey was the only Georgia player to score in double figures (Tennessee had four players score over 10 points).
With 3:37 remaining, the Dawgs had the ball and trailed the Vols 61-56. Unfortunately, Travis Leslie committed turnovers on back-to-back possessions.
However, the Vols only capitalized on one of the turnovers, and Jeremy Price was able to bring the Dawgs back within 5 following a pair of made free-throws.
The Vols had the ball up 63-58 with 1:47 remaining in the game. Georgia desperately needed a defensive stand.
Instead, Vincent Williams let Bobby Maze blow by him, which forced Albert Jackson to abandon Wayne Chism underneath. Maze missed the lay-up, but Chism got an easy put-back off the missed shot that put the Vols up by 7 with only 1:21 left.
On the Dawgs’ next possession out of a timeout, freshman point guard Vincent Williams jacked up an ill-advised jumper that clanked off the rim, and landed in Scotty Hopson’s hands…the game was basically over.
The Dawgs are now 0-9 in true road games this year, with only two opportunities left to get a win away from Athens (at Vandy and at LSU).
Here are two questions that I have about last night’s game:
1) How can the Dawgs come out of the half and once again let up on the defensive end of the floor? Defense is about effort. You don’t have to be the most talented or athletic team in the land to play good defense. And since we know Georgia isn’t A) that talented or B) that athletic, then why can’t they give 40 minutes of solid effort on D?
2) Why was Vincent Williams on the floor at the end of the game? Did Ware get injured? Williams may pan out to be a good player, but right now he is too erratic and out of control. I certainly would rather have Dustin on the court in the games final minutes for key offensive and defensive possessions.
If you have answers to these questions, or any other insights into this team’s “second-half meltdown syndrome” please share…