Georgia drops SEC opener to Arkansas

The Georgia Bulldogs’ six-game winning streak and their perfect home record officially came to an end after Michael Qualls sunk a pair of free throws to put his team up 79-75 with just 4 seconds remaining.  Just several plays earlier, it had seemed that Qualls had put his stamp on the game when he finished a breakaway with an emphatic dunk that gave Arkansas a 76-70 lead with only 27 ticks left.  But, a three-pointer from J.J. Frazier, followed up by a layup from Marcus Thornton after a botched inbounds play by Arkansas, and UGA was only down 2 points with a little less than 5 seconds on the clock.  For a brief moment, Georgia held slim glimmer of hope before Qualls, who finished with 17 points, sunk the two aforementioned free throws.

This loss will surely not sit well with this team or its fans.  The Dawgs played an incredibly controlled first half offensively, not letting the Arkansas pressure dictate their purpose.  Before the break, UGA had knocked down 6 of its season-high 9 three-pointers, taking a 44-37 advantage into the intermission.

In the second half though, Coach Mark Fox’s team started to unravel.  After building up a 57-49 advantage on a Neme Djuriisic tip-in with 13:12 remaining, UGA’s offense stalled, going nearly 8 minutes without a field goal until Yante Maten converted a layup on a break that helped reclaim the lead for his team at 64-63 with 5:52 left.

After shooting nearly 58% in the game’s first half, Georgia managed to hit only 34% of its field goals after the break.  The Dawgs’ ball security became a lot looser in the second half as well as UGA committed 11 of its 17 turnovers in the final 20 minutes.

Arkansas was led offensively by Bobby Portis, who scored 21 points and proved to be a very difficult matchup for the UGA bigs.

Georgia’s scoring was very balanced, with five players finishing in double-digits; Neme led all scorers with 16 points to go along with 7 rebounds.

After building up a lead that got as high as thirteen points in the first half, the Dawgs no doubt have to feel as though they let one slip through their fingertips.  At 0-1 in the conference, Georgia really has its work cut out for them with back-to-back road games coming up – LSU on Saturday night and Vandy next Wednesday.  If UGA cannot find a way to steal a game away from Athens, they could find themselves at 0-3 in the SEC when they take on Florida a week from Saturday.

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9 thoughts on “Georgia drops SEC opener to Arkansas

  1. The Dawgs’ D also couldn’t stop them in the second half. Although it was great at the beginning of the game, the defense still shows it has trouble stopping a good offense for 40 minutes. The top three offenses they’ve faced so far this season – Gonzaga, Minnesota, and Arkansas – have all been losses. The personnel on this team has always been streaky on offense, so we’re going to have some dry spells. However, if we had been able to make a few mores stops on the defensive end in the second half, we still could have won that game.

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    1. And made a few more FT’s. UGA shot 16-24 from the line, and they are now hitting less than 66% on the season, putting them in a tie for 258th in the country in that statistic.

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  2. Without Juwan Parkers 10 points the offense crumbled even more than normal! Thurmond and Mann have come tumbling back down to earth also! We have to maintain our focus since all the SEC teams seem to have raised their games! I was disappointed w/ the fan turnout for the first home game on a 6 game win streak! Back to work Dogs! Long haul ahead, but you can do it!

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  3. It was a disappointing 2nd half but I think this loss will not look too bad when all is done. In other words, the Hogs seem to have a very good team. Portis was unstoppable and when they started hitting 3s in the second half it was too much for us.

    Although Thornton has improved, the biggest thing our team lacks is inside scoring punch. We don’t have anyone that can be counted on to catch on the block and score when we hit one of these shooting lulls.

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  4. Well, you don’t win when you can’t hit, that’s a given, but in the end, we got out-quicked. Look at how many times we were leaving our feet in the 2nd half. That’s fatigue. Portis is tough simply because he’s a big boy who can jump. But Maten was getting under his skin and they had a battle 2nd half. Portis kept yowing at Maten and Yante ignored him. (Yante was limping pretty good a the Steak n Shake later though.) Everyone talked about getting more stops, but it’s hard when a team tosses 3s and all of them seem to be perfectly placed. As they all started to fall you could see our boys shaking their heads because they knew they were getting tired. We have some issues when a team pushes three defenders high out above the key, but even then, we got some good looks, they just didn’t fall. That seemed to wear on the boys’ psyches. I’m not ignoring the turnovers, but I’ve got to put some of that back on Fox. He called two (and maybe a 3rd 30) to draw up an inbounds play to beat the high trap. I couldn’t see any difference any of those times. Heck, once Nemi had to bolt from mid-court to create an in-bounds under the basket as the seconds disappeared. I’m not going to get too down on this one. We will be stronger for it. That’s a FAST team and for the most part we stayed with them. Had we hit a few more free throws (still a sore spot) and hit 40% in the 2nd half, we’d be enjoying a win most pundits would consider an upset. The first half showed we can be a wicked little team (Lord, what if we perfect some of those last second “misdirection” passes close to the basket?). When we sustain a bit of balance over both halves, we’ll be tough to beat.

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    1. Dawgs looked awesome in the first half – definitely must get better from the line, especially since they are taking 27 FT’s a night (which is 12th best in the nation).

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  5. Though we had great success from the 3-point line in the first half (8-12), we only made one in the whole second half (JJ’s shot in the last minute). We can’t depend on 3-pointers to win. Aside from the missed FTs already mentioned, we had way too many turnovers. We dominated the Hogs on the boards but it was just not enough. Great credit to Arkansas for hanging in and eventually winning.

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