A major question coming into the 2012-2013 season for this Georgia Bulldog (1-2) basketball team centered on how much improvement the Dawgs would see in their big men after a season and off-season under the tutelage of Coach Mark Fox.
The answer: Not much.
After being pushed around and out-rebounded in their first two games, the Georgia bigs once again lost the rebounding advantage (36-27) – this time to a much smaller opponent.
Coach Fox tried to open the game in a man defense, but Marcus Thornton, Neme Djurisic, Tim Dixon, etc. were unable to contain on the outside, allowing the quicker Southern Miss players to slash to the basket for easy baskets. The Golden Eagles opened up a 15-3 lead with 12:07 left before the break after a lay-up by Neil Watson.
For the remainder of the game, Fox sat his team in a zone, which permitted Southern Miss’s left-handed shooter Jerrold Brooks to connect on 5 of his 10 three-point attempts en route to a team-high 17 points. It wasn’t just Brooks who feasted on the zone however, as the Golden Eagles scored 30 points in the paint on Thursday night to the Bulldogs’ 12. Even this morning, I am still unable to shake the haunting images of the Southern Miss posts sliding around the heavy-footed UGA bigs for bucket after bucket.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who has been the lone bright spot on this otherwise dimly lit team, had an off night, hitting only 5 of his 21 shots from the floor. With the supporting cast that KCP has around him this year, he cannot have off nights.
Despite Pope’s poor offense, he did manage to contribute in other ways for his team with 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.
In his post-game comments, Fox harped on his team’s poor free throw shooting, citing that the Dawgs made only 11 of 21 attempts from the stripe. Making barely over half of your free throws won’t win you many games, and in last night’s case, these misses may have been the difference in a win or a loss.
Georgia’s shooting as a team was slightly improved from Monday night’s 32% performance, but still sub-par overall at just 38.5% against Southern Miss.
If I were to offer a quick analysis of this year’s UGA team through three games I would say that they do not shoot very well, they are soft on defense and the boards, and they only have one player that can score. I am sorry that I cannot offer more positivity, but up to this point this team has not given me much to work with.
The scariest prospect to start concerning yourself with right now as a Georgia basketball fan is not the impending match-up with #1 Indiana (though that deserves merit).
Right now, I’m envisioning what this team will look like next year without KCP, who I am thinking may not choose to return to endure another season with this group with the allure of the NBA as another option.