Bulldogs snap losing streak, throttle Razorbacks

To say that everything went Georgia‘s (11-12; 2-7) way in the first half of Wednesday night’s game against Arkansas would be an understatement.

The Dawgs – a team averaging 55 points a game in conference play – rang up 43 points before the intermission against the Razorbacks, taking a 19-point lead into the halftime break.  Georgia made over 56% of their shots from the floor, scored 20 points in the paint (to Arkansas’s 6) and out-rebounded the Hogs by a count of 25-10.  Usually the Dawgs are on the receiving end of this kind of domination.

Gerald Robinson, Jr. was untouchable, torching the Razorbacks for 17 first-half points to go along with 4 assists and 3 rebounds.  GR2 finished with a game- and career-high of 27 points on 10 of 13 shooting from the floor as well as 5 assists and 5 boards.

Even Marcus Thornton, yes Marcus Thornton, buried a three from the wing with to put the Dawgs up 26-11 with 6:57 remaining before the break.  And then he hit another with less than 12 minutes left in the game to give Georgia a 60-33 advantage!

Arkansas looked nothing like the team that upended Michigan, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt on Wednesday night.  Coach Mike Anderson’s team appeared lethargic and soft on defense, and UGA exploited the Hogs’ sluggishness to the tune of 81 points – a team-high in SEC play this season – compared to Arkansas’s 59.

This game marked the first time in 2012 that Georgia has gone over the 70-point mark – the Dawgs hadn’t eclipsed 70 since their 92-86 overtime win over Winthrop back on the 27th of December.  UGA was efficient on offense, making nearly 54% of their shots and dishing out 15 team assists.

The Bulldogs were on cruise control for most of the second half, opening up a lead that nearly reached 30 points.  Georgia unloaded on the Hogs from beyond the arc, knocking down 9 of their 20 attempts.

UGA owned the glass on Wednesday night, easily winning the rebounding battle by a count of 41-20.

Even though Robinson contributed a third of the Dawgs’ points, Georgia’s scoring was quite balanced with three other players finishing the game in double-digits.  Freshman Kentavious-Caldwell Pope had a solid performance, chipping in 18 points on 60% shooting from the field.  Neme Djurisic and Marcus Thornton added 14 and 10 points, respectively.

The Georgia players should sleep well tonight knowing they finally put an end to their SEC losing streak which had gotten to four games.  More importantly, South Carolina dropped another road game at Tennesse, allowing the Dawgs to shake free of the Gamecocks and pull themselves out of the bottom of the SEC standings.

The Dawgs get two days off before traveling to Starkville to take on the Maroon Dogs this Saturday.

Dawgs look to bounce back against Hogs on Wednesday in Athens

The fact that the Arkansas Razorbacks are 16-7 on the season and 4-4 in conference play is a true testament to the coaching abilities of first-year skipper Mike Anderson.  Anderson, who took the job after a successful five-year run at Missouri, inherited a team that needed to find a way to score without last season’s leading scorer, Rotnei Clarke.

Clarke led the team with 15.2 points per game last year before deciding to transfer for Butler for his senior season.

To add insult to injury (literally), the team’s second leading scorer from a year ago – Marshawn Powell – went down after just two games this year with torn knee ligaments.

Powell, who was expected to carry a large portion of the scoring load, was off to a phenomenal start before his injury, averaging 19.5 points and 6 boards.

Despite these horrific personnel losses, the Hogs are in a position to play themselves into an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament with quality wins over Michigan, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt.

Arkansas plays an intense brand of pressure defense, which is customary of a Mike Anderson-led team.  Anderson’s style of play has been characterized as the “Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball”, with his team pressing and pushing the ball for the majority of the game.  Whether UGA will be able to handle that kind of full-court pressure or not will dictate the outcome of tonight’s game.

The Hogs are first in the conference in three-point percentage defense, limiting opposing SEC teams to just under 25% from beyond the arc.  The Arkansas defenders also have very active hands which is probably why they lead the conference in team steals with over 9 per contest.

The bulk of the Razorback offense comes from its backcourt trio of B.J. Young, Julysses Nobles and Mardracus Wade, who are averaging 13.0 ppg, 12.4 ppg and 10.2 ppg, respectively.

Fortunately for Georgia the Hogs’ major weakness is their lack of a strong inside game due to the fact that they are playing without Marshawn Powell.  Arkansas is down near the bottom of the SEC (along with Georgia) in both rebounding and rebounding margin, meaning that UGA‘s bigs have a chance to secure a rare win in the rebounding battle.

For the Dawgs, whatever goals they carried into this season have probably been scrapped off the table by now.  The new plan for Coach Mark Fox’s team for the remainder of the year should be to play the role of “Bubble-Burster” in games like this one, and to look for opportunities to improve in nearly every facet of the game.

Georgia has the lowest number of turnovers of any SEC team in conference play, yet with a team field goal percentage of only 35.3%, all those missed shots start to resemble turnovers.  I would be much more encouraged about next season if Georgia could manage to get itself out of the cellar in regards to this statistical category.  If the Dawgs could find a way to knock down 45% of their shots from the floor from here on out they could possibly end up at 40% on the year in SEC games.

Small goals.