Trey Thompkins makes a surprise return to the lineup, and Georgia (3-1) loses its first basketball game of the season to Notre Dame 89-83.
Not exactly how many people might have scripted it.
Georgia went into the half leading Notre Dame 37-25.
Last season, six of the Dawgs SEC losses came in games in which Georgia actually held the lead at the break.
The Dawgs were given an opportunity to show their growth from last season by closing out a game that they had total control over.
This did not happen.
I attribute the Dawgs second half collapse to three things: an inability to adjust their offense to Notre Dame’s 2-3 defense, poor interior defense and even poorer free throw shooting.
In the second half, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey switched his bigger Irish team into a 2-3 zone defense, daring Georgia’s guards to shoot it from outside. The Dawgs shot it from beyond the arc, but not very well as they connected on just 9 of 34 attempts (or 26.5%).
At times, Gerald Robinson, Jr. was able to penetrate the zone and get into the lane and create – but this did not happen often enough. It seemed like Georgia was more content with swinging the ball around the perimeter until something opened up from three-point range.
It would have been nice to see Georgia push the ball a bit more and not give the Irish so much time to get back and settle into their zone.
I already noticed a few comments on my last post about the defensive play (or lack there of) by Georgia’s bigs last night. In the second half, Notre Dame bigs Tyrone Nash and Carleton Scott feasted on Jeremy Price and Chris Barnes like they were Thanksgiving leftovers. Nash scored 9 points in the second half and finished with 18, and Scott matched his 9 and finished the game with 11 before fouling out with 1:42 left to play.
Price and Barnes repeatedly allowed the Irish bigs to receive the ball WAY to close to the basket, resulting in a barrage of Notre Dame points in the paint.
During the stretch of play in the second half in which Notre Dame outscored Georgia 35-18 (from 17:42 down to 0:37 left in the game) the Dawgs missed 8 consecutive free throw attempts. They finished 10 of 20 on the night from the charity stripe, and were probably left wondering if they could have won the game in regulation if only they could have knocked down a few more.
But you do have to give the Dawgs credit – they definitely fought until the buzzer sounded. Even though they were down 62-56 with only 43 seconds remaining in regulation, Georgia scrapped and clawed and tied the game up on a tip-in by Trey Thompkins with just 9 seconds remaining.
Personally, I thought Georgia was going to pull it off at the end of the first overtime after GR2 knocked down a jumper with 41 seconds left to put the Dawgs up 69-68. The Irish missed a couple of shots on their last possession, but kept securing the offensive rebounds until Ben Hansbrough was fouled by Dustin Ware on a put-back attempt (this could have been a no call in my opinion). “Psycho B” knocked down 1 of 2 from the line, though, and the game went on to a second overtime.
It was great to see Trey back out on the court again – he appeared to be slimmer and certainly had less hair. Trey looked a tad rusty on offense, missing shots he normally makes and traveling 3 times. But I thought his defensive play was solid – bringing down 10 rebounds (8 defensive) and blocking 3 shots.
I haven’t seen ESPN’s Sportscenter yet today, but I have to imagine that Travis Leslie’s one-handed alley-oop dunk and his Dominique Wilkins-esque windmill both made the “Top Plays” segment. Leslie led the Dawgs with 23 points and a team-high 9 rebounds.
Notre Dame forward Tim Abromaitas lived up to his top billing, scoring 25 points including 4 of 5 from beyond the arc. Georgia really didn’t have an answer for this guy all game, and when the Irish needed buckets he was there to provide.
This was a tough loss because it would have looked great on UGA’s tournament resume to have a win over a quality Big East opponent.
Hopefully it will serve as a learning experience though, and next time Georgia goes into the half with a lead the Dawgs will come out of the locker room and put their opponent away.