Archive for November 2015
Georgia played its best first half of the season, but in the end the Dawgs couldn’t find enough offense to pull off the upset in Newark. Here are some thoughts I had on the game:
Hello Yante Maten
Yante Maten, who has been a relative non-factor through the first 3 games, stepped up and scored a career high 21 points tonight against the Seton Hall Pirates. Maten put together his most complete offensive performance as a Bulldog, showcasing a midrange jump shot that hopefully is here to stay. He also hit 9 of his 11 attempts from the line, helping to keep his within striking distance of the Pirates for much of the night.
Defense takes a step back
Playing primarily man defense for much of the evening, Coach Mark Fox’s team struggled to contain Seton Hall’s guards, allowing Isaiah Whitehead and Khadeen Carrington to finish with 22 and 20 points, respectively. Fox managed to slow the Pirates down late in the second half by switching into a zone with the Dawgs trailing 60-57, and Georgia even pulled to within a point following a pair of free throws from Kenny Paul Geno. However, Whitehead quickly went off for 7 points to send his team up 67-59 with only 29 seconds left, and the Pirates would eventually win 69-62.
Seton Hall killed Georgia on the glass, hauling in 13 offensive rebounds, which contributed to 30 second chance points for the Pirates. Even though UGA shot the ball much better this evening (47%), the Dawgs do not have enough scorers to give opposing teams too many additional opportunities on offense.
Georgia’s backcourt was supposed to be a strength this year
Kenny Gaines hit 5 of his 10 shots and finished with 13 points, but he had to work extremely hard for those attempts. Right now, Gaines is clearly the only scoring threat that UGA has on the perimeter, and defenses are certainly aware of it – Seton Hall defenders were draped over Gaines all night, denying him off the ball for much of the game. Until Charles Mann and J.J. Frazier find some offense, Gaines will continue to be keyed in on by the opposition.
Frazier and Mann are really hurting UGA right now, especially J.J. He made only 2 of his 11 field goal attempts en route to just 4 points, and Frazier is now 6 for his last 32 from the floor. If J.J. cannot start converting more of his shots, then hopefully Coach Fox can convince him to at least take less of them.
Mann continues to bull his way into the defense in the hopes that he gets a whistle, which hasn’t been happening a lot lately. Mann connected on only 2 of his 6 shots, giving him 5 points on the night.
Mark Fox’s team took a page out of the UGA football playbook tonight in Athens, proving that games can in fact be won with little to no offense.
The Dawgs (2-1) surged to a 33-22 halftime lead, riding a 14-5 run into the locker room.
However, Georgia forgot to bring its offense back out for the final twenty minutes. The Dawgs went for nearly 15 minutes without a field goal during the second half before Kenny Gaines knocked down a jumper with 2:35 remaining. The damage was done, though, as the UGA drought allowed High Point to erase Georgia’s double-digit lead.
High Point had a shot at tying the game on the final possession, but neither of Anthony Lindauer’s three-point attempts went in, giving UGA the 49-46 home win.
J.J. Frazier and Charles Mann, who both played otherwise underwhelming games tonight, both made key baskets for the Dawgs in the final minute of this contest. Frazier hit an off-balanced jumper as the shot clock was winding down to put his team up by three with just 28 seconds remaining, and Mann knocked down a pair of free throws that again gave Georgia a three-point advantage with only 11 ticks left on the clock.
Mann was just 2 for 7 from the floor, but he shot a perfect 8 for 8 from the stripe as he led all UGA scorers with 13 points.
Frazier followed up his 1 for 11 shooting performance against Murray State with a 3 for 10 effort this evening, although he did manage 8 rebounds to go along with his 10 points.
The most curious aspect of the Dawgs’s offensive strategy in this contest was the limited number of shots that Kenny Gaines was afforded. After scoring a career-high 35 points last Friday against the Racers, Gaines took just 8 shots against High Point; he did make 4 of those attempts en route to 12 points.
Coach Fox’s team shot under 30% from the floor as a team for the second straight game, but luckily they held the Panthers under 30% as well. The Dawgs defended John Brown very well, limiting him to just 11 points, which is 9 below his season average.
Though it wasn’t the prettiest 40 minutes of basketball ever played inside Stegeman Coliseum, the bottom line is that Georgia found a way to win against a solid mid-major opponent. The Dawgs have a tough road test looming this Saturday when they travel north for a date with Seton Hall, and that game would have had much more a desperate feel had UGA been upended at home this evening.
Georgia’s string of consecutive games against quality mid-major opponents will continue on Wednesday when the Dawgs host the High Point Panthers.
UGA began the season with an overtime loss to Chattanooga, a media favorite in the preseason SoCon standings. A week after taking down the Dawgs, the Mocs went up to Champaign and took down Illinois 81-77. Chatt picked up its first loss of the season last night following an 83-63 drubbing from #4 Iowa State.
Georgia’s first win of the season came last Friday over the Murray State Racers (3-1), a team that ESPN projected to win the Ohio Valley Conference this season.
Now, enter High Point, a team that many in the media predicted would win the Big South Conference this year. The Panthers, who return three starters, including hyper-athletic senior John Brown, have either won or shared the conference title over the past three seasons.
According to an NBC Sports College Basketball analyst, High Point is the favorite to win the Big South:
“In my mind, it would probably be High Point. There will be several teams that have really good players back, but High Point has several really good players back and John Brown has been one of the top players in the league for the last three years.”
Picked for the fourth time as the conference’s Preseason Player of the Year, here is NBC Sports’s depiction of Brown:
“I’d say John Brown should be the favorite for preseason player of the year. There are a lot of good ones, but he’s definitely been really good for a long period of time. I think it starts with his motor and how hard he competes and how physical he is. He just stays after it every possession. He really plays so hard on both ends. He’s great at working at working on catching the ball at the rim and using his size and athleticism to score in the paint. Then he’ll get stuff in transition and on the offensive glass. He’s a monster.”
CBS Sports deemed Brown the #1 dunker in college basketball for 2015:
Georgia could definitely use the services of freshman center Derek Ogbeide in its efforts to contain Brown on Wednesday. Ogbeide, who has missed the first two games of the season with a shoulder injury, was a “game time” decision against Murray, so he must be getting closer to returning.
John Brown and his Panthers will view Georgia as a potential NCAA Tournament resume-builder, and the Dawgs should expect an intense effort from their opposition on Wednesday.
Kenny Gaines must not of liked the idea of starting out 0-2 this season.
The senior from Atlanta torched Murray State for a career-high 35 points, simply willing his Bulldogs to their first win of the season.
With 4:11 left in the game, the Racers jumped ahead 50-48 following a pair of free throws from point guard Bryce Jones, erasing a Georgia lead that had been as high as 8 points just 5 minutes earlier.
Unfortunately for Murray, though, their comeback would end there as Kenny Gaines rattled off three-pointers on the next three possessions for UGA, and after his free throw with 1:35 remaining Georgia held a 58-52 lead that they would not relinquish, ultimately winning this one 63-52.
The other major highlight of the night other than Gaines was the Dawgs’ defense, which looked much improved since the debacle against Chattanooga last Friday. Georgia consistently closed out strong on the Racers, holding them to just 30% from the floor and only 17% from beyond the arc. UGA also did a great job of limiting the Racers to just one shot – Murray managed only 10 offensive rebounds because Georgia hauled down over 75% of the Racer misses, which led to just 3 second-chance points for MSU.
While Murray shot the ball poorly, Georgia shot it worse, connecting on under 30% from the field. Kenny Gaines made 10 of his 18 field goal attempts, but the rest of the Dawgs hit under 18% of theirs. J.J. Frazier was 1 of 11 and Charles Mann 0 for 7.
Yante Maten grabbed 10 rebounds, but he looked lost on offense, missing a plethora of hook shots that led to a 2 for 8 shooting performance. Hopefully Maten has more in his arsenal than the hook, or UGA is going to struggle to find offense in the paint because right now the Dawgs do not have any sort of productivity coming from that area of the floor.
Freshman Mike Edwards scored just 2 points because he missed a couple of easy put backs, but he was very active on the glass, snagging 8 rebounds in 26 minutes (3 of them offensive). As the season progresses, Edwards may play his way into the starting five with his athleticism.
The only other tidbit of interest from this one was Coach Mark Fox’s decision to sit senior Charles Mann for the game’s final 5 minutes. Even when UGA had taken control of the game thanks to Gaines, Mann remained on the bench. Mann’s free throw shooting continues to be a problem (1 of 2 last night), so it’s possible that Fox saw him as a liability down the stretch once the Dawgs had the lead. To Mann’s credit, he was the loudest cheerleader on the UGA bench up until the final horn.
This win gets Georgia to an even 1-1, with a chance to get above .500 right before turkey day as they host High Point on Wednesday here in Athens.
For the second straight year, Coach Mark Fox and his team will begin the season with a losing record.
After digging themselves into an 84-77 hole with 1:57 left in overtime, Georgia, despite some acrobatic three-pointers from Turtle Jackson and J.J. Frazier, was unable to close the gap before the final moments expired, and the Chattanooga Mocs escaped Athens with a 92-90 victory.
Although, the Dawgs spent a greater part of the evening trying to claw their way back into this game. Georgia trailed the Mocs for the first 30 minutes of this contest before a Frazier layup put the Dawgs up 53-52 with over a little over 10 minutes remaining in regulation. UGA briefly appeared as though they might have finally taken over this one after a tip-in by E’Torrian Wilridge sent them up 64-59 with just 6:39 left.
But the Mocs wouldn’t go away, and a few minutes later the game was locked up at 66 apiece following a jumper by Casey Jones. On the next possession, Jones buried a three-pointer that gave his team a 69-66 advantage.
The Dawgs failed to contain Jones, who along with teammate Jonathan Cook, scored 23 points to lead the Mocs.
Coach Mark Fox’s team has to be somewhat embarrassed that they allowed two Chattanooga players to finish with 20-plus points on Friday. Although, UGA didn’t seem too particularly interested in playing much defense last night anyhow, especially on the perimeter where the Mocs connected on 40% of their three-point attempts (12 in all). Despite Chattanooga’s effectiveness from the outside, Coach Fox kept his team locked in a zone defense, permitting a plethora of open looks from beyond the arc for the visitors. For whatever reason, CMF didn’t feel comfortable enough with this group to allow them to play man defense on Chattanooga.
The Dawgs also yielded 15 offensive rebounds to the Mocs, which led to 14 second chance points. Last year, UGA finished 2nd in the SEC in defensive rebound percentage at 71%; however, last night they grabbed just 57% of the potential defensive rebounds. The difference? No Marcus Thornton.
Not to harp too much on one performance, but Georgia has another glaring problem: Nemanja Djurisic’s graduation has left them with just two shooters – Kenny Gaines and Frazier – and when one of them fouls out (Gaines), Georgia’s offense becomes a lot easier to defend. Frazier hit 4 of his 8 three-point attempts and ended up being UGA’s leading scorer with 22 points to go along with his 8 assists. Gaines knocked down 3 three’s himself, but he dealt with foul trouble all night, tallying 12 points before fouling out with with 5 minutes remaining.
Gaines and Frazier combined to shoot 78% from the foul line, while the rest of the Dawgs managed just 58% from the stripe. If one were to peruse the annals of college basketball, I cannot imagine that many teams have taken 45 free throws in a game and managed to lose. But, UGA missed on 17 of those attempts, which ultimately led to their demise on Friday.
Senior Charles Mann, a preseason All-SEC selection, finished the night with 17 points, but he committed a team-high 7 turnovers, a problem that has plagued him for much of his UGA career. Mann also missed 6 of his 16 free throw attempts, leaving precious points on the table. Out of his 8 trips to the stripe, Mann connected on both free throws just twice, and at some point, those one-point efforts to the foul line start to feel like mini-turnovers.
If there is any silver lining to be taken from this disappointing loss it is that Chattanooga is a sound basketball team, and they were selected by numerous media outlets as a potential contender to win the SoCon this season.
Georgia has to regroup and prepare for another home game next Friday against Murray State, and from the looks of the giant plastic brace attached to the sling around Derek Ogbeide’s shoulder, I would say that Georgia should be ready to play once again without its starting center.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word exhibition as “a public show of something”. Notice that the definition does not contain any words like “competition”, “win” or “lose”. A college basketball exhibition game is merely an opportunity for the coaches to play their entire bench in a game-like atmosphere so that when they step on the court for real it won’t be quite as big of a shock.
That being said, I was glad to see the Dawgs win this one, and I was thankful they didn’t pull a Murray State because that would have unnerved the UGA fan base heading into Friday’s season opener against UT-Chattanooga (Murray State dropped its exhibition game in OT to NAIA opponent Freed-Hardeman). But, I’m not going to dwell too much on statistics from this one because the competition – no offense to AAU – was not anywhere near what the Dawgs should expect to see when the Mocs roll around next week. Plus, Georgia had ten guys play more than ten minutes apiece, with Fox running a multitude of various lineups throughout the night, which makes it difficult for players to get into any kind of rhythm.
I will say I was pleased with Georgia’s defense: UGA limited AAU to just 20% from the floor, and the Dawgs hauled in a Herculean 60 rebounds. Considering how many different guys played on Friday, it was nice to see that the one constant was playing sound team defense.
The biggest takeaway from the entire event was just how impressive Georgia’s freshman LOOK. There are no Tim Dixon’s or Donte Williams’s in this bunch. Turtle Jackson, E’Torrion Wilridge, Derek Ogbeide and Mike Edwards all appear physically ready to compete with SEC calibre teams, especially the bigs. Ogbeide had been garnishing a bit of hype prior to the season after CBS college basketball analyst Jon Rothstein tweeted out the following:
Oogbeide is a huge 6’8″ (listed at 250lbs), and he definitely looks capable of leading this team in rebounding. Edwards, who led UGA with 11 points, is slightly leaner, but certainly not thin, and he too should be able to contribute immediately in the paint. UGA will be just fine this year if these two frosh can combine to replace Neme’s 11 points and 5 rebounds from a year ago.
J.J. Frazier missed last night’s contest due to a possible broken nose that he incurred at practice on Friday night. However, Turtle filled in nicely, running the offense with a confidence not usually seen in true freshman. And, at 6’4″, he makes UGA’s backcourt look quite formidable alongside the 6’5″ Charles Mann.
Mark Fox might potentially have another NCAA Tournament team on his hands, considering how strong the Dawgs are at guard. More importantly, though, it feels like Fox might have finally gotten things rolling. He’s brought in a strong freshman crop following last season’s NCAA tournament appearance, and even though he loses Mann and Gaines after this year, Fox has a pair of 4-star shooting guards committed for 2016 to complement Jackson and Frazier in the backcourt.
Georgia has a difficult non-conference slate which begins next week with the Chattanooga Mocs, a team that many are picking to win the Southern Conference. A win would be a great way for UGA to set the tone early that this team has every intention of playing well into March.