Georgia (9-5) came away from Friday’s contest with Delaware State (4-7) with a win, but similarly to the Winthrop game on Tuesday, it didn’t come easily.
The Bulldogs got off to another dreadful start, making just 2 of their first 9 field goals attempts and with 12:58 left in the half they trailed the Hornets 14-4. Georgia reclaimed the lead on a Dustin Ware three-pointer that put them up 20-19 with only 6:11 remaining before intermission.
The highlight of the afternoon came just before the half when Kentavious-Caldwell Pope launched a shot from beyond half court that beat the buzzer and drew nothing but nylon, putting his Bulldogs up 32-29 heading into the break.
Luckily for Georgia, Delaware State went frigid in the second half, connecting on less than 27% of their field goal attempts. The Dawgs weren’t much better on offense after halftime, making only 37.5% of their shots from the floor and turning the ball over 7 times – probably a big reason why the Hornets were able to hang around for most of the afternoon.
The game seemed in hand after KCP buried a three from the corner to put Georgia up 52-46 with only 4:28 left, but then the freshman managed to turn the ball over on UGA‘s next possession and then proceeded to foul Delaware State guard Casey Walker on his ensuing three-point attempt. Fortunately Walker, who led the Hornets with 16 points, only made 2 of the 3 free throws. Georgia’s Gerald Robinson, Jr. iced the game on the Dawgs’ next possession by scoring on a nice drive through the lane, and the Dawgs pulled away for a 58-51 victory.
GR2 didn’t score a single point until the 16-minute mark in the second half, and he finished the game with just 8 points to go along with only 1 assist.
Dustin Ware led all Georgia scorers with 15 points, and if it weren’t for his 3 three-pointers before the break the Dawgs could have really been in some trouble going into the second half.
Sophomore Donte Williams had one of his more productive games a Bulldog, scoring 12 points and bringing down 9 rebounds.
All and all, the Dawgs didn’t give the few thousand fans that showed up to Stegeman Coliseum much to be excited about before the start of conference play. Once again, Georgia struggled to put away a team (at home) from a mid-major conference with a sub-.500 record.
At this point, it has become painfully clear that even the worst teams in college basketball can come into Athens and hang with the Bulldogs if Georgia plays the game at a slow pace. Without any post players that can consistently score on the block, the Dawgs’ offense is at a huge disadvantage when trying to create points in the halfcourt set.
I strongly believe that it would behoove Coach Mark Fox and his team to start integrating more press into the game plan in an attempt to speed up the tempo – Fox has been subbing players in and out at a torrid pace this season, so one would assume that this team could handle the rigors that come with applying full-court pressure?
Georgia won its fifth-straight game today and improved to 9-5, but the last two games have left me especially worried about the daunting slate of SEC games looming in the Dawgs’ immediate future – Alabama, (at) Florida and (at) Vanderbilt.
The Dawgs open SEC play at home against Alabama on Saturday January 7th. The Crimson Tide are a big, physical athletic bunch that feature All-SEC bigs JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell – this is basically the same Alabama team that beat Georgia TWICE last season (and that was when Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie were still donning the Red and Black).
Coach Mark Fox has seven days to come up with a game plan for the Tide, and I am hoping with all hope that it involves relentlessly pushing the ball up the court.