Tourney Time! Dawgs and Hogs

The Dawgs need Travis Leslie's offense if they hope to make some noise in Nashville

Georgia has lost two straight games, and Arkansas is in the midst of a five-game losing streak.

But guess what?  Nobody cares!

The beauty of the conference tournament is that everybody gets a clean slate, a chance to start over and try to make something special happen over a long weekend.

Mark Fox’s Georgia Bulldogs should be very excited about the opportunity that they have to give a little payback to this Arkansas Razorback team.  Back in February, the Hogs overcame a 15-point halftime deficit in Athens to hand Georgia a 72-68 loss at Stegeman.

The second half of that game was painful to watch.  The Hogs pressure defense frustrated Georgia’s offense, forcing 11 UGA turnovers and limiting the Dawgs to only 40.9% from the field.  Arkansas, on the other hand, shot a blistering 64% from the floor and were led by Courtney Fortson’s 19 second-half points (he finished the game with 27).

Sophomore guard Courtney Fortson is the man on this Razorback team.  He is similar to South Carolina’s Devan Downey, minus the three-point shot.  He is very fast with the basketball in his hands, and he can past defenders to the rim.

Fortson’s numbers in SEC games this season were pretty impressive – 18.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists (first in the SEC).  The only knock on him is his field goal percentage, which sits at 35.5% on the season.  In the first meeting between these two teams, Georgia did not have an answer on how to stop this guy.

His complement in the backcourt is sophomore guard Rotnei Clarke.  Clarke is the shooter on this team, hitting 37.5% from beyond the arc and netting 12.1 points per game in SEC play this season.  The Dawgs did a great job of being aware of where Clarke was on the court in the game in Athens, limiting him to only 2 points.

On the inside, the Hogs are led by freshman Marshawn Powell and senior Michael Washington.  Were it not for the “Diaper Dandies” on Kentucky (Wall, Cousins), Powell would probably be in line for this year’s SEC “Freshman of the Year” award.  In conference play, he is scoring 15.1 points and grabbing 6.9 boards a night, while shooting 50.5 % from the field.  Washington is pouring in 11.3 points and nabbing a team-leading 7.0 rebounds a game in SEC play.

The Arkansas bigs gave the Dawgs post players fits in the second half in Athens.  Washington scored 13 of his 15 after the break, and Powell got all 11 of his points in the second.  The Dawgs were unable to stop either of these guys once they got the ball in their hands on the block.

Keys to the Game

Attack the Zone

Over the past one and a half games, Georgia’s offense has looked inept.  This is the same offense that led the SEC in team field goal percentage (47%), three-point percentage (39.6%) and assists (15.0/game).

Both Kentucky (in the second half) and LSU showed the Dawgs a lot of zone defense, emphasizing pressure on the perimeter.  Georgia’s guards could not get the ball inside or penetrate, and Travis Leslie (especially) was uncharacteristically ineffective – over the past two games, Leslie has scored a total of 15 points and shot 7 of 22 from the floor.

When teams show the Dawgs man defense, the UGA offense works like a well-oiled machine – backdoor cuts, great interior passing and a plethora of Leslie dunks.

But the Dawgs have to be more effective when they see zone.  Ware has got to be more of a penetration threat from the point guard position.  Ricky McPhee and Travis Leslie cannot merely swing the ball back to the top of the key – they must do a better job of getting the ball into Trey Thompkins (and the other UGA bigs), and they have to be able to create (at least some) off the dribble.  If Leslie can dribble the ball into the zone and draw defenders, it will open up so much inside for the Georgia bigs.

Slow Down Courtney

In the first meeting between these two teams, Courtney Fortson scored 27 points and got to the free throw line 16 times (he made 12 of them).  Mark Fox must adjust his defense (zone?) to make it more difficult for Fortson to get into the paint.

This is tricky since you can’t give too much help on Fortson or he will be able to find Clarke for wide open three-point shots.

I am interested to see how Fox chooses to play the Arkansas star.

In Thompkins We Trust

Trey Thompkins finished the season second in the SEC in scoring this at 18.9 points per game.  He came in fourth place in the conference in rebounding this year with 8.4 per contest.  He is a great emotional leader on the floor, and he has openly expressed how much he loves Georgia and how he wants to be a part of turning this program around (he is definitely one of my favorite Dawgs’ basketball players ever).

It’s hard to ask more of this young man considering how much he already does for this team, but Coach Fox needs Trey’s defense more than ever against Arkansas.  Georgia cannot afford to have Powell and Washington pour in points in the paint, and it is going to be on Trey’s shoulders to make sure that doesn’t happen.


The game is scheduled to tip-off Thursday night at 8:45PM Central Time, 9:45PM Eastern.  Since it’s the fourth and final game of the day, there is a very good chance that it won’t get started until 10:00PM or later.

Go ahead and email/call your boss and let him or her know that you might be in a bit late on Friday, because this one is going to go into the wee hours of the night!

14 thoughts on “Tourney Time! Dawgs and Hogs

  1. This is a terrific blog I discovered only about a week ago. Keep up the good work. I look forward to reading this for years to come as UGA’s BkB program continues to improve under Coach Fox.


  2. Nice preview hoopdawg.

    I think Georgia is in a much better position to beat the Hogs than the first time we played them b/c we have improved a lot at handling pressure. We just need to keep the ball moving and get it inside to Trey and Price and we will be fine.


  3. Trey has got to stay out of foul trouble. He had 4 fouls in the first game with Arkansas. When he has to sit due to fouls, it obviously has a big negative impact on our game plan. The worst example of that was the Auburn game.

    Another disappointing thing about the first Arky game was the fact that Fortson, Washington and Powell all ended up with 4 fouls, but we weren’t able to get any of them out of the game over the last 5-6 minutes. If we could have gotten Fortson out of the game, we almost certainly would have won.


  4. The LSU was an aberration. I expect a rested team to come out Thursday night rested, but with high energy and a renewed determination avenge the earlier loss to Arkansas and to show up, show out and make a run.

    And Trey…if you’re reading this…please stay. Next year could really, really be something special but you’re the anchor, the foundation, the master link in the chain. O.K…enough grovelling.

    Go Dawgs!


  5. hoopdawg – just wanted to echo what zzggyy said. Nice work on the blog! Found it a few weeks ago, and have now incorporated it into my daily dawg (internet) browsing routine.


    1. Thanks a lot, I ‘ve enjoyed writing it.

      Honestly, I didn’t know how many UGA basketball fans existed out there (other than my small group of friends) in the world…it’s nice to know that there are plenty of other people that care about the program.


  6. This blog would be a lot better if you blogged about a certain New Year’s Eve Beer Olympics.


    I hope we can win 1-2 games in the tourney – my goals are modest, I know, but I just think our guys are too worn down from playing so many minutes this season to make much noise for 4 games in 4 days. I love this team to death, I just don’t think they have it in them. Do I hope I’m wrong? Of course!

    With all of that being said, everyone’s pretty much touched on what I was going to say. It was frustrating how we couldn’t foul out Arky’s top 3 guys before, Trey’s obviously the key to us winning, etc. I also look for Jeremy Price to have a big game. He’s really come on as the season has progressed. If we can get anything (ANYTHING) from our bench guys, we can win this one. One game at a time!

    Oh, and of course, great job on the blog, HD


    1. The Keys to the NYE Beer Olympics were simple…pace yourself.

      Price really has improved, hasn’t he? I heard Fox talking on his weekly show about how excited he is to have Price for a full off-season. Sounds like he plans on making Jeremy work a lot more on his game and conditioning so that he doesn’t balloon up to 280lbs (once again) before next season.


  7. Hoop Dawg, this blog rules- from even an old guy like me (40), I love the Dawgs, maybe one day we can relive the magic of 83.


  8. Bold tourney prediction; combined line from Big Al and McPhee tonight:

    27 pts, 13 rbs, 5 asists, 4 blocks, 3 steals


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