The Georgia Bulldogs (4-3) are looking to stop a two-game skid when they play host to the Cincinnati Bearcats (4-2) on Friday night at 7:00PM in Stegeman Coliseum. After jumping out to a 3-0 start this year, the Dawgs have lost 3 of their last four games, with all the losses coming away from Athens.
Defensively, things haven’t actually been as bad as they have seemed to the observing eye for the Bulldogs. Coach Mark Fox’s team is limiting opponents to only 41.1% from the floor, resulting in merely 61.6 points per game. Georgia’s rebounding margin is sitting at just -1.6, even though it has felt like they have been dominated on the glass consistently this season – actually, the Dawgs have only been out-rebounded in 3 of their 7 games.
On the offensive side of the ball though, the picture is not so glamorous. When compared to the rest of the Division I programs, Georgia stacks up pretty low offensively. Seriously folks, brace yourselves because these numbers might floor you.
As a unit, the Dawgs are shooting a lackluster 38.4% from the field, putting them in a three-way tie with Bethune-Cookman and Drexel for 309th place in the country in the category. From beyond the arc, UGA is connecting on just 30.1% of its threes, knotting them up with Duquesne and USC Upstate for 257th in the nation in three-point shooting.
Lastly, Georgia is averaging only 15.1 free throw attempts per contest, placing them in a tie with Hartford at 313 in the land. UGA opponents have been shooting 8 more free throws per game than the Dawgs. These staggering charity stripe numbers really expose just how little presence Georgia has in the paint.
At this point, one of two things has to happen for Coach Fox’s team: either the guard trio of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Gerald Robinson and Dustin Ware steps their game up and plays lights-out for the remainder of the season, shouldering the entire scoring load; or, Georgia’s bigs get more productive inside.
Maybe the fact that this game against the Bearcats is being played in Athens, where the Dawgs are 3-0 on the year, will be a good omen for UGA.
Cincinnati came into the season ranked #21 in the country, their first preseason basketball ranking since 2003. Since then, however, the Bearcats have been upended by both Presbyterian and Marshall, which should give Georgia fans a sense of optimism going into this game.
The leader of the Cincy team is senior big man, Yancy Gates. Gates, who checks in at 6’9″ and 260lbs, leads the Bearcats in both scoring and rebounding with 14.2 ppg and 9.3 rpg, respectively.
KCP will need to be aware of Cincinnati’s second-leading scorer, sophomore Sean Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick is a good outside shooter who is averaging 13.8 ppg and knocking down over 46% of his three-point attempts. He’s the Bearcats most dangerous outside threat, and KCP has to stick close to him to prevent Kilpatrick from getting too many good looks.
The game against Cincinnati will mark Georgia’s second this season against a Big East opponent – the other being Notre Dame (a team Georgia beat).
I will be interested to see what kind of crowd shows up to The Steg, considering the major football event occurring in Atlanta on Saturday.
Through 7 games this season, the Bulldogs have looked incapable of scoring on too many occasions. Friday night will give this team an opportunity to right the ship and start putting the ball in the hoop more consistently.