The Georgia Bulldogs‘ Columbia High School Connection – Jeremy Price and Travis Leslie – combined for 42 points and 22 rebounds on Saturday, carrying the Dawgs over the Auburn Tigers 81-72.
Georgia (16-6; 5-4; RPI 36) got the conference win they needed yesterday, but they had to go to overtime to get it (against the worst team in the SEC).
The Dawgs looked like they finally had the game in hand when they extended their lead to 65-59 off a Gerald Robinson bucket with just 4:09 remaining. But Auburn scrapped to cut the lead to just 67-65, and then following an Ernest Ross (who finished with 30 points) steal and lay-up off of a Trey Thompkins turnover the game was tied with just 10 seconds left.
Robinson looked a bit lackadaisical bringing the ball up the floor, although he did end up getting a look at the rim but the ball wouldn’t stay down.
Auburn finally went cold in the overtime, and Georgia was able to pull away and win the game.
Georgia looked semi-interested in playing on Saturday, and they were extremely careless with the ball (committing 17 turnovers to Auburn’s 9). The Tigers came into the game shooting under 30% as a team from the three-point line in conference play, yet on Saturday they connected on 9 of 18 from beyond the arc. Georgia’s perimeter defense (or lack there of) has been something that has plagued this team all season, and they now rank 10th in SEC in that statistic, allowing opposing teams to hit nearly 35% of their three-point shots.
But it wasn’t all bad for Georgia on Saturday, as they passed the ball extremely well, finishing the game with 22 team assists (which seemed out of place considering all the turnovers). Jeremy Price had a career game, scoring 22 points and grabbing 14 boards (12 defensive) to go along with four monster dunks. Travis Leslie, who had been mired in a two-game slump, posted 20 points on Saturday, including a perfect 3 for 3 performance from beyond the arc (a career high in three-point fields in a game for him).
In his post-game show, Coach Mark Fox alluded to the fact that both Trey Thompkins and Gerald Robinson were dealing with illnesses. GR2 netted just 7 points and committed 4 turnovers, but maybe it was a Dayquil-induced effort?
Thompkins, once again, faced double-teams for a majority of the game, frustrating him into a 5 for 14 shooting effort. He did finish the game with 16 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists, and he scored some big points in the overtime to make up (possibly?) for his in-bounds pass turnover at the end of regulation.
It would be easy for Bulldog fans to look at the Arkansas and Auburn games and find a lot of fault in the Dawgs’ play. But it should be remembered that Georgia was coming off a pretty tough week last week, with consecutive losses to SEC East rivals Florida and Kentucky.
This is a basketball team that is trying to establish itself at a school that eats, sleeps and breathes football. Winning basketball is something that Georgia hasn’t played in quite some time, and the Dawgs are still learning how to win games and how to be consistent.
So I give Coach Fox’s team a lot of credit. They came into the week with a 3-4 SEC record and their NCAA tournament hopes on the ropes. They didn’t earn too many style points, but they did win both games and they are now 5-4 in the conference and in 3rd place in the SEC East.
The Tennessee Volunteers are one game up on the Dawgs in the conference standings, but the Vols have quite a week ahead of them with trips to Kentucky and Florida on the schedule. Georgia has another opportunity to move up in the SEC East standings this week if they can go into Columbia on Saturday and steal one from the South Carolina Gamecocks.
On Tuesday night, Georgia will go outside of the SEC to host the Xavier Mustketeers, an RPI Top 50 team and more importantly, a team that will probably be “dancing” in March.
Looks like another big week for the UGA Men’s basketball team.