Georgia’s Donte Willams made a free throw to complete an old-fashioned three-point play, which brought his team to within 3 points, cutting the LSU lead to 45-42 with just 6:52 remaining in the game.
The Tigers responded with back-to-back threes from Andre Stringer and Ralston Turner, and following a pair of free throws from Justin Hamilton they were back on top 53-44 a little over two minutes later.
LSU made 8 of its next 12 free throw attempts which was enough to keep Georgia (12-15; 3-10) at bay, securing the 61-53 SEC home win (their 7th of the season).
Sophomore Andre Stringer hit a number of big shots from beyond the arc Wednesday night, connecting on 4 of 9 attempts and leading all scorers for both teams with 18 points. All night it seemed as if just as UGA was about to make a run to close the gap, Stringer would can a timely three to shut down any thoughts of a Bulldog run.
Georgia got out to an atrocious start in this game, missing their first 3 field goal attempts and turning the ball over 2 times in less than three minutes of play. After the dust had cleared, the Dawgs found themselves trailing the Tigers 10-0.
UGA was unable to recover from this initial deficit, playing the entire game from behind. Coach Mark Fox’s team couldn’t tie the score once in Baton Rouge, let alone take an advantage over LSU. The closest Georgia got all night was on the aforementioned Donte Williams old-fashioned three-point play.
Coach Fox kept his defense in a lot of zone on Wednesday, looking to force the Tigers to beat them from the outside. His defensive strategy did serve to limit LSU center Justin Hamilton to just 7 points on the night – nearly 9 points lower than his SEC average.
However, Georgia was unable to contain freshman big Johnny O’Bryant, who pounded the Dawgs on the inside for 14 points and 8 rebounds.
The only UGA player that provided any offense for Coach Fox’s team tonight was senior Gerald Robinson, Jr., finishing the game with 17 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 3 steals.
Sophomore Donte Williams struggled with foul trouble for the majority of the game, limiting him to only 17 minutes of play. His minutes were productive, though, with the sophomore ending up with 7 points and 4 boards.
Kentavious-Caldwell Pope’s offensive woes continued in Baton Rouge as he went just 4 of 12 from the floor, ending the game with only 10 points.
The biggest and most pleasant surprise on the night (for me at least) had to be the play of freshman reserve big John Cannon. In just 14 minutes of game time, Cannon racked up 4 points, 3 rebounds and a block. More importantly, both of his field goals came on hook shots that he initiated with his back to the basket – real post moves! By a UGA player at that!
Going forward with the small amount of season that is left, I’d much rather see Cannon come off the bench than John Florveous, Tim Dixon, etc. At least he can get into the paint and bang like a legitimate post player, which is more than I can say for the other two guys I just named.
Wednesday night’s loss to LSU marks the third-straight for UGA, moving the Dawgs’ conference record to 3-10 (just one game above the Gamecocks).
Assuming Georgia can beat South Carolina at home in 10 days (while simultaneously assuming losses to Florida and Kentucky), the Bulldogs should then have the 11-seed locked up for this year’s SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament in New Orleans.
UGA’s tournament opponent is up in the air at the moment, with Tennessee, Alabama, LSU and Mississippi State all being possible contenders. I hate to say it so soon after another Georgia loss, but I could realistically see the Dawgs beating any of those four conference opponents on a neutral court.
Any other thoughts on the game, the SEC Tourney, or just the general state of UGA basketball?