The Georgia Bulldogs (7-11; 1-4) were dealt a nasty hand in the beginning section of their Southeastern Conference schedule, playing two games against Florida as well as a road contest at Missouri (all of which the Dawgs lost).
However, the next stretch of games appears to be more favorable for UGA, although a majority of those games will be played away from Athens. Georgia’s next three opponents – Texas A & M, Auburn and South Carolina – have a combined conference record of 5-10. If the Dawgs still have any plans of getting this season back on track, now would be the time to do it.
The Aggies’ (12-6; 2-3) SEC basketball debut got out to a roaring start with consecutive wins over Arkansas and Kentucky (in Rupp). Since then, though, things have not been nearly as rosy for A & M, who enters tonight’s game with Georgia riding a three-game losing streak, including a 58-54 defeat at the hands of LSU in Baton Rouge on Wednesday.
The Dawgs effort against the #7 Gators on Wednesday night in Athens showed me that while this team still does not possess much in the form of a half court offense, they do still have some fight left in them. However, for Georgia to be successful in College Station later this evening they must find a way to score in the half court.
This Aggies team is long and they play strong man defense, something that the Dawgs have withered against all too often this season. In conference play, A & M is limiting opponents to under 60 points a game, which is third in the SEC. They have also been extremely effective on the glass in league play, boasting a +8.4 rebounding margin and hauling in nearly 13 offensive boards a night.
The Aggies’ offense runs through its backcourt, where they are led by senior Elston Turner and junior point guard Fabyon Harris. This tandem is one of the better ones in the SEC, with Turner leading the way at 15.5 points per contest. He is dangerous from the perimeter where he is making 40% of his three-point attempts. In the win over Kentucky, Turner dropped 40 points on the Cats, including 6 three’s.
Harris, though small in stature, pushes the ball well for A & M and he is netting just over 10 ppg.
While Georgia has played some stout competition thus far in conference games, the Dawgs’ biggest enemy in SEC play has been themselves. Through five league games, UGA is giving the ball away nearly 18 times a night. The Dawgs’ inability to value the basketball has amplified their offensive futilities, leading them to a league-low 56.2 points per SEC game.
Basically, Georgia has to clean things up. They also must become more effective when they have the ball – the second half against Florida brought back painful memories of earlier games this season against Youngstown State and Southern Miss, which featured UGA swinging the ball around the perimeter until a desperate shot went up with the shot clock expiring.
Coach Mark Fox’s team has a chance to steal a road conference win this evening, but they will need to play a lot smarter in order to do it.