Georgia Sends Auburn Packing, Looks Ahead to Alabama

The Georgia Bulldogs (21-10; 10-7) did not allow the Auburn Tigers any grand delusions of a second overtime game between the two teams.

Instead, the Dawgs used the Tigers as a first-round tune-up and ended their season by 3:00PM (Eastern Standard Time), winning 69-51.

Auburn came into the game averaging nearly 13 offensive rebounds per SEC game this season, yet the Bulldogs gave them a taste of their own medicine this afternoon.  Georgia hit the offensive glass like a team possessed, pulling down 16 o-rebs and winning the battle of the boards by a tally of 36-22.

Georgia’s two-headed monster of Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie both finished with double-doubles, combining for 34 points and 10 rebounds.  Leslie also did a phenomenal job of limiting Auburn’s leading scorer Ernest Ross, holding him to just 4 points on 1 of 10 shooting from the floor.  In the first game between these two teams, Ross lit the Dawgs up for 30 points – Leslie was having none of that today, though.

The Dawgs jumped out to a 5-0 lead and never looked back (or relinquished the lead).  My favorite part of this game came right after the halftime break, with Georgia holding a 34-23 advantage.  Anyone who has watched this Georgia team over the past year or so knows that one of their Achilles heals has been the first five minutes after intermission.

On Thursday however, the Dawgs entered the second half with the same intensity as the first.  A healthy Thompkins hit two three’s before the first TV timeout, and Georgia was up 45-27 with 15:42 remaining in the half.  It was so refreshing to see the Bulldogs come out of the break and put their foot on the accelerator (and to keep it on it).

The Dawgs now advance to a highly anticipated second-round match-up with the SEC West regular season champion Alabama Crimson Tide.  A lot of analysts around the country are labeling this as an NCAA Tournament “Bubble Game”, with the winner earning an at-large berth and the loser – eh, who knows?  Left wondering come Sunday?

Tomorrow’s game will mark the second game between these two teams in a week, with Alabama winning the first one in Tuscaloosa last Saturday 65-57.  In that game, Bama out-rebounded and out-hustled the Dawgs, as well as forcing them into 16 turnovers.

In Georgia’s win today over Auburn, the Bulldogs were ferocious on the glass, and they turned the ball over just 7 times.

That’s Auburn though.

Alabama plays a different brand of defense, pressuring teams in the open court and limiting opponents to one shot – probably why they lead the SEC in team defense, holding teams to merely 60.9 points per contest.

Georgia did not handle the Tide’s pressure well in Tuscaloosa, and they must protect the ball better in the Georgia Dome if they want to advance to Saturday’s third-round game.

All-SEC First-Team selection Trey Thompkins carried his team through the first round of the conference tournament, scoring 22 points and hauling in 10 rebounds.  He’ll match-up with a fellow First-Team’er on Friday in JaMychal Green, in what should be a battle in the paint.

Personally, I am beyond tired of hearing about all of the different “bubble scenarios”, “bracketology’s” and “play-in scenarios” on ESPN.  Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled that Georgia is at a point as a basketball program where they are being mentioned in such conversations.

But I am ready to see this game played.

I think at this point, Georgia could survive a loss tomorrow and still get into the NCAA’s, yet probably as one of the teams that would play on either Tuesday or Wednesday in the new “first round”.

Coach Mark Fox’s team could take a lot of the guesswork out of the “Bubble” picture with a win on Friday.

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11 thoughts on “Georgia Sends Auburn Packing, Looks Ahead to Alabama

  1. A couple more things:

    1) I saw Alabama Coach Anthony Grant from a few rows back – he looks like he could still be playing.

    2) There were a decent number of tickets floating around after the Georgia game. Could be a different story tomorrow before 1pm as more Kentucky fans roll into town (there are already a bunch of them meandering around the Dome and CNN Center already). If you are going to head down looking for tickets, get there early because the Cats fans will be gobbling up any extras since they are also in Session 3.

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    1. Even though the Cats will be playing in today’s session, the SEC (for the first time I can remember) is selling single-session tickets. There were a decent number of UGA fans there yesterday but this team deserves more support. Hope more fans will show up today.

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  2. Hoopdawg I got a chuckle out of your EST reference in that post. 🙂
    I completely agree about being tired of thinking about potential scenarios. It’s time for UGA to step up and prove it on the court. This is THE game of the season. I maintain that when we play with intensity for 40 minutes we can handle a team like Alabama. The problem is we don’t do that very often. These boys have never had anything in their lives to play for as big as what is at stake tomorrow (JP excluded). I hope they come out focused and put us solidly on that 10/11 line instead of the play-in game or worse.

    GO DAWGS!

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  3. Should have gone to the dome today. I cannot believe this, but even though I live in NE Georgia, there is NO coverage of the SEC tourney on direct TV until the Saturday semis. There is tournament action from 9 other conferences (including the Big Sky), but no SEC!! Unbelievable!! When I called to complain, the customer associate (who lives in Dalton) said direct TV in that area does not carry the first two rounds of the SEC tourney either–ESPN wants us ignorant rednecks to buy that ESPN pay package to get OUR league. Apparently, only the Atlanta direct TV market in N. Georgia gets the SEC tournament. Can you tell that I’m pissed about that. I can’t go to the dome tomorrow, as I’ll be in Athens. Some of that time will be spent in a sports bar for sure–any suggestions out therefor a good place to view the game?
    Go Dawgs!

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  4. I don’t see how this game is a “play-in” game, as lots of bracketologists are saying. We’re a 39 RPI, they’re 83. A play in game would imply that we’re even teams. Clearly, we’re not.

    If Bama wins, you can’t say “they’re in over UGA because they beat them head-to-head,” just like you can’t say that Marquette should get in over Notre Dame because they beat them. It’s a season long body of work. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that. It’s silly to say this is a play-in game for us. We lose this game, we’re 21-11. We still will have no bad losses, a strong road record, a strong strength of schedule and RPI…if ‘Bama loses, they’re probably out, and that’s because they don’t have all of those things we have. It’s really quite simple.

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    1. You are preaching to the choir Caniac Dawg. By the way, “Caniac” wouldn’t be a reference to the six chicken finger plate at Raising Caines in Athens, would it? I have a buddy who loves that combo.

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  5. I am feeling very confident about today’s game. I don’t think it is a “must win” to make the NCAA, but it is a huge game for our program.

    Reasons Georgia will win:

    1) with Trey healthy and playing like he did yesterday, Georgia is just a more talented team;
    2) Bama is not so good away from their home court;
    3) it is a very tough thing to beat a team twice in 6 days;
    4) the Bulldogs have an advantage in that we played yesterday in the Dome and are used to its rims and shooting in the void.

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  6. Unbelievable. The turnovers on the press at the end of the game along with the bad timeout plays just killed us. I hope we still end up in the tourney, but that choke doesn’t help us very much. I still can’t believe it…

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  7. Hoop, it may be hard to get motivated to write up the description of this one. I was going to describe this game with two words: Epic collapse. But number 33 was even more parsimonious with his label of “choke”. I’ve some observations that I’ll save until after the next post. I’m very disappointed with this performance today.

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  8. No words to describe the lividness of how I felt today- inexcuseable use of timeout at the end, and inexcuseable not use of a timeout on the second to last possession. This one is on Fox.

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