Dawgs drop the opener to rival Georgia Tech

Charles Mitchell, who had spurned Georgia twice already on the recruiting front, torched the Dawgs in Atlanta on Friday night for 20 points and 9 rebounds en route to an 80-73 Georgia Tech victory.  Mitchell was one of Fox’s targets coming out of Wheeler High School a few years ago, but the young man opted to go to Maryland.  Last year, when Mitchell chose to leave Maryland to return to the state of Georgia so he could be closer to his grandmother, he again snubbed UGA, selecting Tech as his new basketball destination.  Despite these choices, last evening he appeared to be playing possessed, with a chip on his shoulder, almost. And, Mitchell gives the Yellow Jackets something that the Dawgs desperately need: a post who can play with his back to the basket.

Much like in the exhibition game last week, Georgia’s offense looked clunky, making just 27% of its shots in the game’s opening half.  The Dawgs ended the game hitting nearly 42% from the floor, but Mark Fox’s team appears to be lacking scoring options, especially when Charles Mann has a 3 for 11 shooting performance.  While Fox’s offensive scheme involves a lot of motion and picks, without playmakers it simply does not work.  This system still needs players who can slice their way into the lane from the wing position, and right now, I’m scratching my head wondering who on Georgia can fill that roll?

Despite starting poorly, UGA managed to hang around in this contest, cutting the lead as low as 4 points after a Marcus Thornton bucket with 14:39 left in the game and Georgia Tech up 50-46.  However, back-to-back field goals by Charles Mitchell – one of them an awkward dunk off a break – pushed the Jackets lead back up to 8 points.

Whenever Georgia managed to get close, Tech would pull away.  Quinton Stephens, who led all scorers with 22 points, was a menace for UGA all night, connecting on 6 of his eight shots from beyond the arc.

The Dawgs’ best performance was turned in by Djurisic, who finished with 18 points, helping to keep his team around before the intermission with some timely three-pointers.

Cameron Forte wins the award for the most efficient performance of the night, scoring 5 points and grabbing 3 rebounds to go along with a steal and a block, all in just 4 minutes of play.  Forte’s lack of presence on the court as the game progressed was perplexing since he was giving his team a viable scoring option.  Last season, Forte’s defense is what limited his playing time; whether that has improved or not, he needs to be in the lineup more because this team needs all the help it can get on the other side of the ball.

This loss is going to sting (pun intended).  Georgia Tech does not look like a very good team, and it seems likely that they will end up near the bottom of the ACC, just as was projected by numerous media sources.  Whether this game will hurt UGA’s NCAA hopes later in the year probably shouldn’t be of much concern to Georgia fans because right now this Dawgs’ team does not have the looks of an NCAA tournament team.

What should worry Dawgs’ fans is that Mark Fox has now dropped four straight to the Jackets, which hasn’t happened since the 1960’s (back when Tech was in the SEC).  Georgia gets a slew of cupcake games before taking on Gonzaga in New York on November 26th as part of the preseason NIT.

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