Kentucky Edges Georgia 66-60

During the 2009-2010 season, Mark Fox’s first as Georgia’s basketball coach, the Bulldogs (14-6; 3-4) were forced to play a lot of zone defensive sets due to a lack of depth.  Coach Fox stressed that he preferred to play man-to-man, but he just didn’t have the personnel.

Before the start of this season, Coach Fox, on numerous occasions, expressed that this year’s team would play primarily man defense because of the bolstered bench support.

In Georgia’s 77-70 win over Kentucky earlier this month in Athens, the Dawgs used a physical man-to-man defense to frustrate the Wildcats offensively.

So why did Coach Fox have his team start the game on Saturday in a 3-2 zone?  And even further, why did he keep them in it for the entire first half (and chunks of the second)?

The strength of this Kentucky team is its perimeter shooting – they shoot 40% as a team from beyond the arc, which ranks 12th in the country.

In the first half on Saturday, Kentucky moved the ball around Georgia‘s zone, connecting on 6 of 12 from three-point range and building up a 39-24 halftime lead.  Freshman Doron Lamb, the Cats’ sharp-shooter/zone-buster, torched the Dawgs in the first half, knocking down 3 three’s en route to 11 points (he finished with a game-high 19 points).

Before the first media timeout, Georgia had already committed 3 turnovers and trailed 11-4.

During the game’s second half, Coach Fox got his team out of the zone and matched up with the Cats in a man defense.  After shooting 51.7% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc in the first half, Kentucky looked flustered offensively after the break, hitting only 31.8% of their field goal attempts.  The Cats followed up their 6 first-half three-pointers with a goose egg in the second, going 0 for 5 in their perimeter shot attempts.

Georgia fought and clawed till the end, and actually cut the Kentucky lead to 59-53 with 2:07 left following a Dustin Ware three-pointer.  On the next trip down the court, the Dawgs got a stop and had a chance to make it a one-possession game, but Trey Thompkins missed an open three-point look.  Kentucky’s Darius Miller got the rebound, got fouled, made two free throws and essentially sealed the game with the lead up to 61-53 with only a minute remaining.

The final score ended up 66-60 in Kentucky’s favor, and Georgia now finds themselves in the midst of their first two-game losing streak since dropping back-to-back games to Notre Dame and Temple back in 2010.

The missed three was a theme for Thompkins on Saturday, as he finished the game 0 for 5 from beyond the arc.  Trey only played 11 minutes in the game’s first half due to foul trouble, and he ended up with just 9 points on the day.  This was the first time this season that Thompkins failed to score in double-figures.

But misery loves company, and Georgia’s Travis Leslie wasn’t about to let his teammate struggle on offense all by himself.  Leslie was an icy 0 for 7 on field goal attempts Saturday, finishing with only 5 points.

The Dawgs are not going to win many games when their preseason All-SEC First Team players (Thompkins and Leslie) combine for just 14 points.

The only Georgia Bulldog that bothered to show up in Rupp Arena was junior Dustin Ware.  Ware led all Bulldog scorers with 18 points, and his 4 three-pointers were critical in keeping the game from becoming a blowout.

Georgia’s only other player to score in double-figures was junior Gerald Robinson, Jr., who contributed a quiet 12 points.  GR2 began conference play like a man possessed, averaging 18.0 ppg in his first five games.  In the last two games however, Robinson has looked tentative and reluctant to create, leading to just 19 total points.

The Dawgs are now anchoring the cellar in the SEC East with a 3-4 conference record.  At the SEC media days conference in October of 2010, Florida Coach Billy Donovan predicted that Georgia would win their side of the league.  At this point, with 5 of the remaining 9 games coming on the road, its starting to look like an 8-8 SEC record is more likely, with a 9-7 record being a “best-case scenario”.

Things don’t get any easier for Georgia, as they begin the week with a trip to Arkansas on Wednesday.  The Razorbacks are 4-3 in SEC play, and they are coming off a huge 89-78 victory in Nashville over Vanderbilt.  They dropped Tennessee at home 68-65 as well, so the Dawgs best not take them lightly.

Georgia gets Auburn at home on Saturday, so if they can collect themselves and get a win in Fayetteville Wednesday night, they have an opportunity to make this a big week.

The key word being “opportunity”.

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13 thoughts on “Kentucky Edges Georgia 66-60

  1. The Hogs looked TOUGH yesterday at Vandy, and that is not easy to do. We will have to be all over their 3-point marksman (whose name escapes me) and battle the Hog “bigs” for everything we can get to have much of a chance in their arena, where they are tough. Good write-up Hoop–you saw the game pretty much as I saw it and nailed Trey’s missed 3 as the turning point that undermined a nice comeback. Gosh, we have to start playing with a sense of urgency or else the season will soon be wasted.

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  2. Very insightful point on the zone. I think Fox’s logic once Trey got into foul trouble was to use the zone to eat up some clock until half time, but why in the world he started the game that way is beyond me. The stats you point out comparing the Cat’s first and second half FG% tells the tale.

    Also, is it just me, or has Gerald Robinson been playing a little bit more out of control these last couple of games? It’s hard to fault a guy who had some key baskets to keep us in this one, but it just seems like he’s been trying to do a bit too much out there these last couple games, leading to some big turnovers.

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  3. Dawgs were in a Zone due to Treys’ Inj. and I think Trav had been sick and just trying to conserve some energy. I also read that some guys are banged up. Hopefully we can bounce back vs. Ark but it will be tough. They are a very streaky team. We have played pretty well in bounce back games vs. West teams this year so we need to make a statement. We have @ Ark, AU,(Xavier), @ SC and the got VU at home. I think this stretch will be our season. We go 4-0 in conf. we are in great shape. 3-1 we will have a shot, but we will have to win at either UT/UF/Bama.

    We will see what type of team we have. We should beat SC(twice), AU, LSU, Vandy. We just have to find a way to win a couplce of road games.

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    1. I live out here in Franklin county where my direct TV local channels are South Carolina. I say this Luke because I see a lot of Carolina games/news highlights, etc. and I think you may be seriously underestimating the Gamecocks in saying hat we will beat them twice. I hope that you are right, of course, but I will remind you that SC recruited a top-20 class last year, and Darrin Horn is a very good young coach who has this young talent playing very well (recall that they beat Florida at the O-center). I’m at the point where I assume no wins and realize that this team needs to fight for everything it is likely to get.

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      1. I agree. The Gamecocks look much better than I expected. Dawgs aren’t in bad shape yet, but they definitely are going to have some work to do with the schedule remaining.

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          1. I live in SC, work in Columbia and watch them play a good bit. This team has over achieved all year in my opinion. They got hammered vs. Furman. They are very athletic but don’t have really an inside threat. Watched them play AU and it just looked like reality has sat in for the Cocks. If they get hot from the 3-pt line(ala UF) and get a huge game from Ellington then they may be tough. I just think we play our game vs. them then we should beat them. Looks like Ellington has been rather silent lately as well which may mean he is running out of steam for a frosh. They got pounded by a bad AU team and looked aweful in doing the same. Vandy just handed the game to SC, kinda like we did UT.

            Put it this way, I think we should beat AU/LSU/SC at home pretty handily(10 + pts). We should win @SC if we take care the Bball.

            We CAN win every one of the remaining games we play. Will we win the rest of the games this year…NO… I don’t think we will get blown out of any game this year so we just got to find a way to win the close ones. We still lack a true gaurd that can create his shot. And Leslie has been aweful in SEC play. If he gets out the shooting slump then I think we will turn it around. He is a lay up and off rebound machine.

            I also would like to see up go small and play Thorton at the 4 a little more. He can make some shots on the perimiter to take the post players out the lane so the double doesnt come to trey so quickly. Thorton is athletic enought if we fall into the 1-2-2 zone he can hold on the block pretty well. Barnes and Price not being able to hit a shot out the lane kills Thompkins on the post.

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            1. I agree with your assessments, Luke. USC is an unpredictable team. We should take them in Athens and hopefully in Columbia.

              Not so sure that I’m ready for more Thornton though. He’s unreliable on the offensive end and is a liability at the FT line.

              Is it just me or do others cringe when Price & Barnes get the ball at the top of the key? It just seems like bad things happen most of the time when they are too far from the basket.

              We’re the only East team to have played less than 3 games against the West so far. A couple have even played 4. It’s time to let our divisional foes beat each other up. If we can take care of business versus the West and win our division games at home, we still end up at 9-7 (and that’s assuming we don’t win at USC). Here’s hoping!

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  4. I am defaintly not thinking Ark is in the bag. If we come out firing on all cylinders as we have when we needed it this year I think we win this game. Talent wise we are better then them but can we handle the pressure of a MUST win game!

    Leslie has got to step it up!!! This kid was a late 1st rounder to beggining 2nd and he has been aweful from the outside the paint this season. I think unless he blows it up the remainder of the season he needs to come back 1 more yr. If he just devolopes the outside shot he could be 1st rd.

    GR2 got to stay in control, he has been out of control to much vs. UF and UK and needs to start being smarter with the basketball.

    This game is the turning point of the season. We either starting pointing to the NIT or the NCAA tourney.

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  5. Hoopdawg,

    I don’t know how much you look into recruiting but I was wondering about the Dawgs potentially picking up some guys for next season. I know we got only 3 guys leavin in Barnes, Price and Nolte, is there a chance when trey leaves and possibly travis that we pick up another recruit? We’ve got only 12 kids on scholly and we lose 3 and got 3 signed any chance we take someone else or on the radar of anyone else. I don’t want any more Vincent Williams projects!

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    1. At this point, I can’t see Leslie leaving unless he really just doesn’t like school. Ultimately, I think it will be hard for him to make an NBA roster with his inability to create of the dribble and shoot consistently.

      Plus, I’d love to have him back at UGA for another season!

      I know that the two kids we signed – 6″8 Tim Dixon and the 7′ Juco transfer John Florveus – have both been labeled “projects”.

      With Trey (most likely), Price and Barnes leaving, you are right – there is going to be a huge void in the paint (having Leslie back would help a ton with the off/def rebounding).

      Most of the 2011 ESPNU 100 have signed, so unless Fox finds a diamond in the rough I don’t know what to expect.

      It would be huge if he could get a couple big juco transfers ala Anthony Evans and Shon Coleman from the 2001 Dawgs team?

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