Arkansas pressure too much for Georgia

In the first meeting between Arkansas and Georgia in Athens – a game which UGA won 67-61 – Michael Qualls scored just 3 points on a 1 for 10 shooting performance from the floor.

Unfortunately for the Dawgs, Qualls made amends for that game on Saturday inside Bud Walton Arena, where he scored 20 points to go along with 3 steals.  Throughout much of the game, Qualls served as the catalyst in the Hogs’ full-court press, which gave Georgia fits for much of the afternoon.

Arkansas turned UGA over 16 times in Fayetteville with Brandon Morris and Charles Mann leading the way with 7 and 6, respectively.  In Georgia’s press offense, Morris and Mann are usually the primary ball-handlers, so when they are coughing it up a combined 13 times to the other team things typically don’t pan out well for the Dawgs.

Despite all of the turnovers, Arkansas could not put Georgia away in the second half, seemingly leaving the door open for a UGA comeback.  After shooting nearly 60% from the floor before the break, Arky went cold in the second half, making just 40% of its field goal attempts and connecting on only 1 of 9 shots from beyond the arc.

The problem, though, was that UGA shot the ball worse, hitting less than 30% of its field goals following the intermission.  Aside from Kenny Gaines and Marcus Thornton, Georgia did not have much going on on the offensive end of the floor.  Gaines, who connected on 6 of 9 threes, scored a game-high 25 points, and Thornton chipped in 13 points to go along with 6 boards.

Charles Mann, who had as many turnovers as points, only scored 2 points in the second half, and he sat on the bench for the final stretch of the game after Coach Fox appeared tired of watching Mann’s carelessness.

Georgia did cut the Arkansas advantage to as low as 5 points after Kenny Gaines hit a pair of free throws to make it 65-60 with just 4:43 remaining.  But the Hogs responded immediately and in less than a minute the score was 70-60 after Rashad Madden connected on the team’s only three-pointer of the half.

UGA didn’t have another run in them, and the Hogs cruised to the 87-75 victory.

A disconcerting by-product of yesterday’s loss is that Georgia’s hold on third place in the SEC is now a lot less secure.  Both Arkansas and Tennessee are just one game behind the Dawgs in the standings with two games remaining on the conference slate, and these two teams would win any kind of two-way or three-way tie-breakers that might exist with UGA should their conference records end up the same.

Georgia has a winnable home game against Missy State on Tuesday, but then the Dawgs have to hit the road again for a difficult regular-season finale in Baton Rouge versus the LSU Tigers.

Arkansas and Tennessee’s final two games seem less daunting than Georgia’s since each team has a much easier road game this week.  The Hogs get Ole Miss at home before heading to Tuscaloosa to play Alabama (6-10).  The Vols travel to Auburn (5-11) before ending the season at home against Missouri.

Obviously anything is possible and there is still week of basketball to be played, but Georgia’s chances of reaching the finals of the SEC basketball tournament seem much more favorable as the 3-seed.  At the 3-seed, UGA could avoid Florida – the only team that truly seems unbeatable in this conference.

At the 3-seed, Georgia could potentially play in a winnable semifinal game against Kentucky, a team that is currently in the midst of a two-game losing streak and reeling from Saturday’s loss to SEC bottom-dweller South Carolina (4-12).

Georgia has two games left on the schedule, and the only way to ensure a 3-seed in the conference tournament is to win both of them.

7 thoughts on “Arkansas pressure too much for Georgia

  1. Not sure if the Dawgs are a lock for the NIT. If they lose the game against LSU and Tenn and Arkansas win out, they slip to the 4th seed and could lose their first SEC game. Then what?? Mann seemed to be pressing and was frustrated by his failure to get to the hoop. JJ played well, even though his shots were off. Can he get bigger and stronger next year? He has a great deal of poise under the circumstances.


    1. Actually, if UGA loses at LSU and Ark/Tenn win out Georgia would slip to the 5-seed, meaning a potential date with Florida on Friday (assuming a win in the second round).


      1. The 5-seed, provided they beat the winner of the 12-13 seed game, would then play the 4-seed. Florida will be playing the 8-9 winner on Friday. So if we do go 1-1 and either Ark or Tenn wins out, I suppose I’d just as well see them both pass us. That way we’d get an extra game against the winner of, say, Auburn/USC. To me, as long as Florida looms, our chances of winning the tournament do not materially improve whether we have a bye or not, so I’d gladly take the extra game in the above scenario instead.


        1. Good call – meant to say “a potential date with Florida on Saturday”. I am so used to Georgia playing on Wednesday of the SEC tourney that all these bye scenarios are causing me to get my days and rounds mixed up 🙂

          I’m just really hoping for the 3-seed on the off chance that UF gets upset before the finals.


    2. I understand your concern about even making the NIT. I’ll stand though on my earlier prediction that 18 wins, no matter where they come from, gets the dawgs in. I think the chances of getting a home game are very slim however.


  2. I’m afraid Hoops Dawg is right about the road game only in the NIT! The games are based on attendance as well as record and we have struggled in both areas! The Dogs tried to make a game of it on Sat, butthe streaky component of the game made it difficult! I admired the way Fox rolled up his sleeves and fought to get some calls for the Dawgs in the early 2nd half! Our bigs were getting hammered each time they touched the ball! Also, Qualls, their guard seemed to clear out with a lead arm each time he drove to the bucket! Five years ago,Anthony Grant and Mike Anderson were on the short list for the Coach at UGA! I do believe we made the right choice on that one! Alabama and Arkansas continue to struggle with their programs, Fox is COTY candidate! Miller’s Grove pipe-line has saved UGA and we will soon see if Jonas Hayes contacts have paid off!! Go Dogs!!! Mike Potter


  3. I agree that Mann killed us. Morris did damage, but to a lesser extent. At least he made his free throws. The troubling thing for us is that when we need a complete game from everyone, 1/3 of the boys fail to play well. Parker also had a poor night. I think JJ, with a year or two in the weight room, will be able to bomb some long 3s some day. Too bad we’ll have to wait. I didn’t think Nemi, or Donte did too poorly, but as everyone saw, the turnovers killed. On the radio, Fox said we couldn’t maintain that pace, and I guess he’s right. To do so, you’ve got to have 18,500+ screaming lungs behind you. It was nice to do the NCAA dream even if it only lasted 3 1/2 days. Let’s hope that in the tournament, we can get a few complete games from everyone. PS. (Canon did well. Dixon didn’t in s limited minutes. Still a toss-up for next year.)


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