The Georgia Bulldogs (13-3; 2-1) put on an offensive clinic in Oxford on Saturday night, whipping Ole Miss on their home court 98-76 and getting Coach Mark Fox his first (hopefully of many) SEC road win.
I cannot remember a more efficient offensive performance by a Georgia team in the past decade (if anyone can please comment and add a link). The Dawgs shot 63.5% from the field as a team, had five players score in double-figures and only had one player (Donte Williams) shoot under 50% from the field.
Georgia set the tone early, jumping out to a 7-0 lead on a Dustin Ware three-pointer and a bucket and some free throws from Jeremy Price. The Rebels were able to close the gap to 9-5 with 17:03 left in the first half, but that was as close as it would get. The Ole Miss crowd was taken out of this game before it even started. It was so quiet you could hear Houston Nutt’s (in attendance) thumbs fervently crunching text messages on his Blackberry.
Georgia shot a sizzling 67% from the field in the first half, with Gerald Robinson, Jr., Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie scoring 13, 11 and 10, respectively.
I’m trying not to gush over the Dawgs’ offense too much, but it was unbelievable how successful they were against Ole Miss. Mark Fox’s Bulldogs dished out a season-high 26 assists, while limiting themselves to only 7 turnovers.
And can someone please tell me where the Georgia Bulldog team that shot just 60.1% from the line before SEC play went? The Dawgs were nearly perfect from the line on Saturday, burying 26-27 from the charity stripe and making all 17 of their second-half free throw attempts. Through the first three SEC games, Georgia is now shooting 88.2% from the free throw line, which is by far tops in the conference.
Gerald Robinson put in another superb effort, and he is starting to look like one of the better guards in the conference. GR2 led the Dawgs on Saturday with 22 points and 5 assists, and he looked real smooth doing it. Robinson shot it well again from the perimeter, sinking all three of his three-point attempts – he’s hitting 60% of his shots from beyond the arc in conference play. GR2 could become totally unstoppable with an outside shot, since he can blow by most defenders off the dribble.
As if GR2’s offensive output wasn’t enough, he also locked-down Ole Miss’ leading scorer, Chris Warren. Warren came into the game netting nearly 19 points per game, yet on Saturday he mustered just 9 points on 3 of 12 shooting from the floor, his lowest scoring tally of the season. Robinson frustrated Warren early and often, and he didn’t even hit a field goal until nearly 10 minutes had elapsed in the first half. GR2 has now shut down two of the SEC’s best point guards – Kentucky’s Brandon Knight and Ole Miss’ Chris Warren…pretty impressive stuff.
Trey Thompkins really peppered the stat sheet on Saturday, scoring 21 points to go along with 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks. Offensively, Trey looked like an NBA lottery pick, canning shot after shot.
After the Vanderbilt game, there seemed to be a sense of frustration among the Georgia fan base with regards to the play of Jeremy Price and Dustin Ware. Bulldog fans wanted more from this team’s veteran role players, and on Saturday they got it. Dustin Ware stepped up and poured in 15 points to go along with a team-leading 9 assists. Ware looked confident and ready to shoot on offense, hitting 2 of his 3 three-point attempts. Price rebounded (no pun intended) well from the Vandy game as well, finishing with 12 points and leading Georgia with 6 boards.
All and all, it was truly just a great team effort. Georgia appeared poised from the beginning, and they looked like a team deserving of a national ranking. And most importantly, the Dawgs (and Coach Fox) finally got the monkey off their back and won an SEC road game for the first time in over a year.
The Dawgs now sit at 2-1 in league play, and they will head home for a three-game home stand against Tennessee, Mississippi State and Florida. Getting this road win at Ole Miss was huge, and it gives Georgia a great opportunity to build up a solid conference record.
P.S. The Colorado Buffaloes beat Oklahoma State on Saturday 75-71, making them now 3-0 in the Big 12 and 14-4 overall. Georgia beat the Buffs 82-74 back in November without the services of Trey Thompkins. This win is beginning to look like a “quality win” (especially if analysts note that it was without Trey), and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Colorado end up in the NCAA Tournament in March.