Iona outlasts Dawgs in OT to win 81-78

The good news for Georgia basketball fans is that the Dawgs played their most exciting and inspiring game in nearly a month, since the team traveled to Brooklyn and went toe-to-toe with Indiana and UCLA on consecutive days.

The bad news, however, is that the Bulldogs’ effort was not quite good enough to beat a 3-4 Iona team (now 4-4) in Athens.

Coach Mark Fox can certainly take away some positives from this game, especially the fact that two of his freshman – Brandon Morris and Charles Mann – set career bests in scoring, chipping in 12 and 18, respectively. Unfortunately, Morris and Mann’s performances were not enough to overcome a wretched team effort from the free throw line.

After making 4 of 5 from the charity stripe in the first half, Georgia proceeded to connect on only 16 of their next 32 free throw attempts. Even more appalling was the fact that UGA hit only 6 of their last 17 shots from the line in the game’s final 6 minutes (including the overtime).

Despite all of the team’s struggles from the stripe, UGA had a final shot at redemption when Neme Djurisic stepped to the line with an opportunity to tie the game at 79-apiece with 4 seconds remaining in overtime. Neme made the first and then left the second short, solidifying the Gaels’ road victory.

Djurisic’s inability to come through in the final seconds for his team was pretty much icing on the cake of yet another poor performance by the sophomore from Montenegro. Neme finished the game with only 4 points (no field goals) and 3 rebounds, turning the ball over a team-high 5 times.

Freshman Brandon Morris, who continues to get better, took advantage of his starting power forward position due to a sidelined Marcus Thornton and chipped in 12 points and 7 rebounds. More importantly, Morris gives Georgia a more versatile lineup that can run the floor, and I would hope that yesterday’s effort means that the freshman will keep taking more minutes away from Djurisic as the season progresses.

Iona got out to a quick start, relentlessly pushing the ball at a torrid pace that enabled them to build a 23-11 lead nearly halfway through the first half. Georgia, however, clawed their way back into the game and actually went into the intermission with a 37-36 advantage following a halfcourt shot by Kentavious-Caldwell Pope.

In the second half, Fox played a much quicker lineup to match the Gaels’ tempo, employing Kenny Gaines and Tim Dixon for a combined 20 minutes. The Dawgs played well at the faster pace, building a 48-41 lead with 13:09 left in the game.

That lead didn’t last long though, and Iona’s Lamont Jones – who scored a game-high 25 points – carried his team to the 81-78 victory.

After the game, Fox expressed that he felt that Georgia played Saturday’s game with a “very awkward lineup”. I guess I am confused as to what was awkward about it? Was it the fact that the younger, more athletic lineup was scoring better than any team he has had on the floor this season? Or maybe he missed the team’s usual slew of shot-clock violations?

I know Marcus Thornton’s knees are bothering him again and I do not wish harm upon anyone, but I hope that even as he begins to heel that both he and Neme will see less minutes throughout the season.

This Georgia team is now 2-7, with little hope of having a 10-win season. The time for Brandon Morris, Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines is now, because Fox is going to need these three seasoned and battle-tested by next year if he hopes to avoid a similar debacle.

15 thoughts on “Iona outlasts Dawgs in OT to win 81-78

  1. There will be no next year for Mark Fox. Terrible last year, even worse this year and no reason to expect any significant improvement next season considering the pathetic roster he has put together.

    Our RPI is 250+. We are around 300 or worse in all of the following categories: scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage.

    1.7 mil a year with absolutely zero return on that investment. The Mark Fox experiment is over. Time to give someone else a chance starting next season.


    1. Yep it’s over for Fox I really don’t know how it got so bad after his 1st 2 seasons but it did and it’s time to make changes because it doesn’t look to be getting any better. And on the other hand we do have a pretty good freshman class with some potential with the right coach so lets not wait another year.


  2. It got so bad so fast because Fox wiffed on every truly blue-chip recruit he went after save KCP. I do like our freshman class and I suspect that McGarity will give Fox at least one more year to turn things around here. His SEC brethern (e.g., Donovan, Calipari) say Fox can coach. But he is simply not getting the guys to compete in a major college schedule. I suspect that we’d be middle of the pack in the Southern League this year.
    As for last night, I think that there is little doubt that Charles Mann should be running this team. The offense looked as if it had a clue when he was in the game, and Mann didn’t get eaten up by Jones and Sledge penetrating to the hole as Vince Williams did. As an old (and I mean old) guard, I do go crazy whenever Mann leaves his feet not sure where he will throw the ball. But he is a freshman whom the team seems to respond to when he is on the floor. He is becoming the leader this team really needs. Finally, Morris gave last night what I hoped we’d get from him this season. I sure hope that he can sustain it.


    1. We finally got what we asked for-the freshmen played a lot of minutes and the team was much better when they were in. Cannon only 2 minutes? Did he get hurt? CMF seemed disappointed that Thornton could not play and he had to play Morris. The free throw problem can be fixed with more experience.Hopefully, CMF will realize the season is lost and play for the future. Maybe by the end of the season the young guys can save his job Otherwise, on the way to the worst record in the SEC and the Bulldogs worst in many years. This is his team that he touted as a good one before the season and were picked to be in the middle of the pack-not dead last.


  3. Enjoyed the football video on bb blog. Therein lies the problem at GA. If’n it is not pointed on the ends, I don’t want nary thang to do with it! Coach Fox is beginning to realize that, I’m afraid.


  4. I agree that Nemi has played himself to the bench a la Florveus, but we have little hope the Thornton will stay out. Fox lamented being able to bang down below after the game. He spoke of the 6000 free throws the boys had taken in practice netting a ~75% success rate. All that seemed to do was make everyone overly conscious and tight. Yes, free throws doomed us, but I still see too much forcing going on. Driving double and triple teams, tossing up rushed 3’s. Fox preaches patience and maturity, yet that didn’t improve – at least not in the 2nd half and OT. Fox said the offensive plays had to be simple due to Morris playing out of position. I’ll accept that though they appeared overly simple. I was more troubled by our inability to dominate in the paint so that we would get all those tip-in chances. We were improved, but even flipping the entire lineup, it will take time to gel. That will take more time and more losses. What happens if we come to see losing and “building for next year” as inevitable? Will we be swept by the bottom half of the SEC? Something about Fox’s demeanor has changed. A past fire seems missing, and he obviously avoids getting hot with this group. Why? What group of boys fails to respond when their coach roasts them from time to time? Heck, I haven’t really seen these boys getting fired up yet – except back when Morris beat his chest …and promptly was call to have a seat. I don’t know where I’m going with all this. Just that usually I’m angry and crabby when we lose. Yesterday, I was strangely unmoved.


    1. Bill, I completely understand your being unmoved by the loss. I’m numb over all the losses that I believe should be wins. When we can play the way we played against indiana and UCLA (flawed as we were at times), there is little reason to believe that we should ever lose to S. Miss, Iona, and Youngstown State. I am beginning to wonder if Fox sees his appointment here as a lost cause–that one can’t win big at UGA. Wonder if anyone ever said that to Tubby or Harrick? I’d respect Fox a lot more (losses or no losses) if he did display the fire we were told he had. Let’s see a little emotion on the Georgia bench!


  5. So, we play our freshmen and we score 78 points. Looks like progress to me. If Fox goes back to other line-ups w/o the freshies, it is time to get him out. I think this team will be a lot better in January if the freshies get the minutes now instead of at the end of the season. I hope Fox divorces Thornton and Williams b/c we could be a lot better than people think if he continues with more PT for the younger guys.


  6. By the way, I will drag my retired tail out of the sack to journey to the Steg for tomorrow’s 11:30 A.M. tip. Does anyone know why the game is being played at such an unGodly hour on a weekday when many of the loyalist (is that a word?) of fans will be working? I suspect it will resemble a weekday scrimmage there tomorrow. Sure hope that no recruits are scheduled to visit!


  7. It’s mid-December, SEC play hasn’t started, and already the Bball Dawgs need to just plan for next year. Start Mann, Gaines, KCP, Morris, and Cannon for the rest of the season.


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