Dawgs drop SEC opener to the Crimson Tide

Georgia Bulldog (9-6; 0-1) Coach Mark Fox put his team in a zone defense for the entire first half in the hopes of encouraging Alabama (12-3; 1-0) to take more shots from the outside.  Alabama, who came into the game shooting just 27.2% from beyond the arc, responded by lighting Georgia up for 6 three-pointers before the break.

Freshman Trevor Lacy was responsible for 3 of the Tide’s first-half threes, and he tallied 17 of his game-high (and career high) 19 points before the intermission.  He had been making only 26.7% of his three-point attempts entering the contest, yet on Saturday night Lacy ended up hitting 3 of his 4 perimeter shots.

The Tide used the outside shots to surge ahead of Georgia, taking a 38-26 lead into the break – a lead which could have easily been 38-23 had it not been for a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Bulldog senior guard Dustin Ware before the half (his only points of the game).

The Dawgs did not let up after halftime though, using a mixture of zone and man defense that enabled Georgia to go on an 11-4 run that brought the score to 52-48 with 9:18 remaining.  Unfortunately, this run seemed to wake up the more talented Alabama team who then responded with a 12-2 run of their own, extending their lead to 64-50 with just 5 minutes left.  At this point the game was out of the Dawgs’ reach and Bama coasted to a 74-59 victory in Athens.

The Bulldogs had a tough night shooting from the perimeter, connecting on just 4 of their 17 attempts.   Georgia must shoot the ball better from beyond the arc (especially at home) if they hope to pick up some conference wins this season.

Alabama crushed Georgia on the boards (as to expected), out-rebounding the Dawgs by a tally of 35-20.

The lone bright spot for the Bulldogs was the play of freshman Kentavious-Caldwell Pope, who finished the game with a season-high 22 points on 6 of 9 shooting from the floor.  This game marked KCP’s first SEC contest and he certainly rose to the occasion, almost single-handedly keeping his team in the game for most of the night.  Pope continues to be active on the defensive end of the court as well, picking up 4 steals against the Tide on Saturday.

The rest of Georgia’s guards struggled to be productive in the conference opener.  Gerald Robinson, Jr. ended up with 11 points but it took him 15 field goal attempts to reach that total.  In Robinson’s defense though, I do think he feels a need to push things a bit on the offensive end since he doesn’t have much to work with in the paint.

Vincent Williams and Dustin Ware, who both played well throughout December, combined for just 3 points (all Ware’s) and 2 assists against the Tide.

The highlight of the Dawgs’ defensive effort had to be the fact that they were able to hold Alabama star forward JaMychal Green in check most of the night, limiting him to only 8 points and forcing Green into 9 turnovers.

Despite the final score you have to give this Bulldog team credit for coming out and playing competitive basketball against one of the better teams in the conference for nearly 32 minutes.  I had extremely tempered expectations for this team prior to the start of SEC play, but after Saturday night’s game I feel like the Dawgs could pick up as many as 6 conference wins.

Sadly though, Georgia is on the road for both its games next week against Florida and Vanderbilt.  Florida got thumped by Tennessee yesterday which means that the Dawgs will most likely be taking on a rather upset Gator team in Gainesville on Tuesday evening; and Georgia is rarely successful when playing on the raised court in Nashville.

I fear that by this time next week the Dawgs will have an SEC record of 0-3.

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9 thoughts on “Dawgs drop SEC opener to the Crimson Tide

  1. I thought Georgia played hard and the game could have been much closer. Djurisic continues to improve and did well against the Bama big guys. Even drove the lane to the basket. Ware and Robinson again had off games. Not good for seniors. Georgia must having scoring from them to win. Ware did not set his feet and looked off balance on his shots. Robinson looks very good and then very bad.But the team made a big effort-just not enough talent to match up. Despite the score, they did not embarass themselves.

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  2. It is hard to be optimistic after a 15-point thumping. I hope you are not wrong, Hoop, about six confrence wins, but I’m thinking 4 is more like it. I, too, liked Djurisic’s play last night and I truly believe he will evolve into a fine SEC caliber player. Donte’s improvement is also noted here–he’s to the point where the team is noticably worse off when he is not on the floor. I didn’t think that was necessarily true a month ago. I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but the Tide’s Mitchell walked every single time he went to the rim in the second half. It was as bad as the NBA out there last night. Also Green was shameless in wrapping up on Georgia’s bigs on rebounds and was only called once when he and Neme got into a shoving match. I thought the refs let the Alabama bigs do anything they wanted to…and I’m not one to complain often about officiating.

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    1. Mitchell might as well have had on roller skates last night, his feet were moving so much. I think they called it once maybe?

      It didn’t matter though, they outclassed our bigs something fierce. It was painfully obvious how poor our frontcourt recruiting has been.

      If we could only keep the momentum of our runs in check, and not give it right back to our opponents, we might (might!) can beat one of these teams coming up that we’re not supposed to beat. (UK excluded… they’ll beat us by 25 or more)

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    2. I felt like the Alabama players and their coach were generally pretty whiny. Every time the officials blew a whistle on a Bama player Anthony Grant instantly had his arms up in complaint.

      I’m already excited to see a team like Kentucky pound the Tide later this season.

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  3. All things considered, it seems like the Dawgs have improved a bit since the last time they we saw them play a quality opponent in mid December. I think Thornton would have helped on the defensive end last night and made the game a good bit closer. If the Dawgs can find any kind of offense, I think they might actually steal a few this season.

    I wasn’t at the game last night. Did anybody else last night watching on TV notice how their trivia question (about Dawgs who left school early) completely left out D.A. Layne? Guess they forgot him since he wasn’t drafted. . .

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  4. Was at the game last night and the entire first half, Hoopdawg’s thoughts on us playing man-to-man versus zone kept beating me upside the head as Bama drained three after three. Even in the second half, we only played man a couple of times down the court…I just don’t get it. To me that just made the rebounding challenge that much tougher.

    On the plus side, we did very well from the FT line (including Donté who has struggled a good bit). We also came back from 19 down to cut it to 4 as mentioned. The student turn-out was disappointing but the alumni side was mostly full. The crowd really helped the defense as we began to cut into the lead.

    I saw some of the Auburn-Vandy game on TV yesterday afternoon. Ole Miss wasn’t good before they kicked their best player off of the team. We’re not NCAA caliber this year but we are far better than some of the others in the league and should be quite competitive with many of the others. I’m not too optimistic about the next two games myself but then again, I didn’t think UT had a chance against Florida either. Regardless of those outcomes, I’ll return to Athens for the game against the Vols. GO DAWGS!

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  5. I think the team’s heart was admirable. Though we lost the first half rebounding, we actually were in the right spot many times, but the ball, as it sometimes will, took a little extra bounce that gave it back to Bama. We got the steals, but the outside shooting left us, and obviously without it, we never really had a chance. I didn’t think John or Tim did too badly with their time, and Nemi’s first driving basket opened my eyes! But, it had to be a complete game for us to win and we didn’t quite have it. The lack of calls on our behalf, and some phantom fouls against us was irritating. We got a bit quicker on defense and it almost worked until three end. The roadtrip will bring more hard lessons, but I agree, we might just have a surprise for Tennessee. Go Dogs!

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  6. I hope that is the last time we sit in a zone for the entire half. Just a soft way to play basketball, especially at home.

    I do think we can win some SEC games at home when we get the students back on campus and in the Steg.

    KCP needs to take more shots.

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