Georgia offense wakes up at home against Ole Miss

The Georgia offense, which had been relatively dormant over the past few weeks, finally came to life on Saturday inside Stegeman Coliseum; and by UGA offense, I’m referring to J.J. Frazier, Kenny Gaines and Yante Maten, who combined to scored 68 of the team’s 80 points today in Athens.

Frazier, who led all scorers with 26 points, carried the Dawgs down the stretch, netting 14 points in the game’s final 10 minutes.  Georgia was clinging to a 54-53 lead with 10:40 left when J.J. buried a three to send the Dawgs up by four. He would hit two more three-pointers during this same stretch, the second one putting UGA up 70-59 with a little over 5 minutes remaining.  That second three sealed the game for Coach Mark Fox’s team, and Georgia came away with the 80-66 home victory, snapping a three-game losing streak.

Gaines and Frazier each hit 5 three’s on the afternoon, torching the Rebels from the outside.  Kenny Gaines also did a phenomenal job defending Ole Miss guard Stefan Moody, who entered today’s contest leading the conference in scoring at over 23 points per SEC game.  On Saturday, though, Moody couldn’t find any room to work due to Gaines’s stingy defense, and he finished with just 15 points on a sub par 5 for 13 shooting performance.  Gaines looked every bit the part of an All-SEC guard in this contest.

At times this season Mark Fox’s substitution patterns have been confusing, moving guys in and out of games at a torrent pace.  However, today Fox had it right as he played Gaines and Frazier 38 and 37 minutes, respectively, which was certainly the right call considering that both guys were on fire.

Georgia just appeared more hungry in this one than the Rebels.  The Dawgs got 19 second chance points to Mississippi’s 7, with a large chunk of those coming from Yante Maten, who nabbed another double-double, scoring 19 points to go along with 10 boards.  UGA forced Ole Miss into 14 turnovers, and they opportunistically converted those mishaps into 22 points.

The Dawgs looked like they were on pace to cruise early on in this game, opening up a 27-16 first half lead after a tip-in by freshman Michael Edwards.  But then the Georgia offense stalled, and Ole Miss closed out the final 7 minutes of the half with a 16-6 run, cutting the UGA advantage to 33-32 at the break.

The Rebels continued to roll out of the intermission, hitting 5 shots from beyond the arc in the first five minutes of the second half, which gave Andy Kennedy’s team a 49-41 lead 14:56 left in the game.  Credit Coach Fox’s team for digging in and getting themselves in a position to win the game after enduring this barrage from the perimeter.

This win puts Georgia at 15-12 overall and 8-8 in the SEC.

Advertisements

Georgia can’t overcome slow start on The Plains

The fact that Georgia was even in a position to possibly tie the game in the waning seconds is a testament to J.J. Frazier’s heart.  Frazier, who score 24 of his game-high 29 points in the second half (he netted 11 points in final four and half minutes), went to the line with the Bulldogs trailing Auburn 84-81 and only 1.6 seconds left.  J.J. missed the first shot unintentionally, which forced him to have to miss the second intentionally with the hopes that the ball might kick out for a long rebound and a potential last second three-point attempt. None of that happened, though. Instead, Auburn’s Cinmeon Bowers corralled the miss and the Tigers secured the home victory.

Kenny Gaines deserves a lot of credit for the late surge as well, hitting 3 three-pointers in the game’s final minute, giving him 23 points on the night.

Ultimately, though, the Dawgs could not overcome another sluggish first half.

In the game’s first twenty minutes, UGA made just 26% of its shots.  Auburn wasn’t much better at 38% from the floor, yet the Tigers held a 39-23 advantage at the break.  This lead was somewhat surprising considering that Cinmeon Bowers, who averages a double-double for Auburn, spent the majority of the first half on the bench with two fouls.

Despite Bowers’s absence, Maten could not take advantage, putting up a goose egg in the scoring department prior to the intermission, continuing his recent offensive woes.  Entering tonight’s contest on The Plains, Maten had connected on just 11 of his last 38 shot attempts.  Yanted ended up with 10 points and 8 boards, but this contest marked the 3rd straight game where Maten has had trouble offensively.

While Auburn leads the conference with nearly 9 three’s per game in SEC contests, the Tigers have only been making 33% of their attempts from beyond the arc. Tonight, however, Auburn torched Georgia from the perimeter, knocking down 11 three-pointers en route to a 46% shooting performance from the outside.

The Tigers were led by T.J. Lang and Jordon Granger, who scored 21 and 18 points, respectively.  These two also combined for 7 of Auburn’s 11 three’s.

Winning on the road in college basketball is not easy, and Georgia has the 2-8 road record to prove it.  But this was not a very good Auburn basketball team.  Actually, it’s a pretty bad Auburn basketball team.

The Tigers entered tonight’s contest at 4-10 in the SEC, second to last in the league.  Prior to this evening, Auburn had dropped 8 of its last 9 games. Not to mention that they have been playing without the services of Kareem Canty, who was removed from the team last month due to disciplinary reasons – at the time, Canty was the Tigers’s leading scorer.

Good teams don’t lose games like this one, even away from home.  But at 14-12 overall and 7-8 in the SEC, it’s starting to look like UGA is not that good of a team.

The NIT, which is Georgia’s only hope for a postseason experience at this point, is starting to look out of reach for Coach Mark Fox’s bunch.

Vanderbilt shuts Georgia down in Nashville

The loss to Florida was bad, but if they could just win the next five games they’d still have a chance to make a push for the NCAA tournament.

This is what I told myself as I made the five and a half hour drive from Athens to Nashville on Friday night.

That wishful thinking was crushed early in Memorial Gym on Saturday, as Georgia fell behind quickly and stayed behind, losing 80-67 to the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Georgia put up another offensive dud today, shooting only 38% from the floor en route to a 67-point performance.  J.J. Frazier (21) and Yante Maten (19) combined for nearly 60% of their team’s output, while the rest of the supporting cast was nowhere to be found.  Kenny Gaines managed only 5 points on a 2 for 10 shooting effort, making it the 4th time in the last 5 games that he has failed to finish in double-figures.

The Dawgs’ offense is becoming increasingly stagnant as the season progresses.  In the early Mark Fox UGA years, Georgia scored regularly on both cuts down the lane and backdoor cuts set up by off-ball screens.  Today, Fox’s team looked completely one-dimensional, relying heavily on pick and rolls, which Vanderbilt eventually got very comfortable defending. The result: UGA scored one point more than its SEC game average of 66 points.

Get this: in conference games, the Dawgs are now averaging the least amount of points per contest in the league.  Team assists, which were once a staple of Mark Fox’s teams, are now hard to come by as UGA is dishing out only 11 per game, ranking them 11th in league in the category in SEC play.  The numbers don’t lie, and at this point, I think it’s safe to say that Fox does not have the talent that he had when he first came on board in Athens.

Georgia has dropped 3 of its last 4 games, and not surprisingly, it has shot under 40% in all three losses.  The Dawgs have become incredibly easy to guard, especially when Yante Maten is not on the floor. Even when Yante is in the game, UGA at most has 3 viable scoring threats, assuming J.J. and Gaines are playing, and that’s just not going to cut it against decent teams.

Georgia’s defense wasn’t much better, though, as they allowed all five Vanderbilt starters to finish in double-figures.  The Dores were led by Wade Baldwin IV’s 17 points as well as Damian Jones, who netted a double-double, scoring 15 to go along with his game -high 16 boards (I should mention that Maten too had a double-double).  On numerous occasions the Vandy guards made passes to wide open bigs, resulting in a string of uncontested dunks.  The Dores shot nearly 46% from the floor, which is a point higher than their SEC game average.

The Dawgs are now 11-0 against teams ranked outside of the RPI Top 100, and 3-11 when playing teams inside it.  Georgia is 2-7 on the road this year, which is bad news considering that they travel to The Plains on Wednesday for a rematch with Auburn.  Today’s loss put UGA one step closer to playing on Thursday of this year’s SEC tournament; losing to the Tigers next week would almost assure it.

 

Florida wins in Athens, sweeping Georgia on the year

Kenny Gaines, who had knocked down three-pointers on consecutive possessions, couldn’t make it three in a row for the Dawgs, which would have tied the game at 56 apiece with less than 10 seconds remaining. Instead, Gaines’s attempt fell short, and so did Georgia’s comeback, giving Florida the 58-54 road win in Athens, along with a season sweep of Coach Mark Fox’s team.

At this point, any discussions of UGA (14-10) earning an at-large bid to this year’s NCAA Tournament are pure fantasy as Georgia is now a dismal 3-10 against the RPI Top 100.

Neither team shot the ball well tonight, but the difference was that Florida made a much higher percentage of its attempts in the second half.  Even though the Dawgs took a 25-19 advantage into the intermission, I couldn’t help but feel uneasy as Florida was just 1 of 17 from beyond the arc in the game’s first twenty minutes; surely, at some point, the Gators would find their range, which they did following the break, knocking down 50% of their shots from both the field and three-point land.

UGA, however, hit just 32% from the floor on the night, making exactly 10 of 31 attempts in each half.  The Dawgs’ offense hit a wall during the game’s final 7 minutes, just after UGA had taken a 44-41 lead following a nice finish by Yante Maten on the break.  Georgia would score only one field goal over the next 6 minutes, which is why Coach Fox’s team found themselves in the predicament that they were in, trailing Florida 52-47 with less than a minute left.

The Gators, who pressured UGA relentlessly when the two teams met in Gainesville earlier this year, seemed content to play a half court game, which obviously worked in Georgia’s favor.  Without having to face the ragged Gator press, the Dawgs managed to turn the ball over just 10 times on the night.

Florida was led offensively by KeVaughn Allen, who scored a game-high 19 points, including 4 three-pointers – 3 of which came in the second half.

Kenny Gaines, Yante Maten and J.J. Frazier scored 12, 11 and 10 points for UGA, respectively; though, none of them had much success in the shooting department.  Gaines was 4 for 11, Frazier 4 for 10, and Maten hit only 4 of his 17 attempts.

The Dawgs are 1-7 this season against the RPI Top 50 for a reason: they don’t have enough players to to compete with high-level teams for 40 minutes.  Georgia has two outside shooting threats and one legitimate post player, which is just not enough to be successful against strong competition.  If one of those guys gets in foul trouble or is having an off night, UGA is essentially playing 4 on 5 when it has the ball.

Anyone know what the NIT bubble is looking like these days?

 

 

 

Dawgs get second road win of season

Georgia got what it needed on Saturday night in Starkville: a win.

For just the second time this season, UGA won a game away from Athens, boosting its overall record to 14-9 overall, 7-5 in the SEC.  More importantly, the Dawgs avoided what could have been their worst loss of the season as the Maroon Dogs entered tonight’s game with an ugly RPI of 164.

Coach Fox’s team won tonight’s game with defense.  The Dawgs played matchup zone for  a majority of the night, limiting Mississippi State to just 31% from the floor.  Missy State entered this contest with the 3rd best shooting percentage in the conference in SEC games at over 45%; yet, Georgia managed to hold them in check, contesting shot after shot.  UGA also did an excellent job of securing their opponent’s misses, out rebounding State by a tally of 45-35.  The Dawgs have the best defensive rebounding percentage in the SEC in league games, and tonight was no different as Georgia hauled in 75% of the Missy State misses.

The Maroon Dogs were led offensively by Quinndary Weatherspoon, who netted 17 points. The team’s leading scorer, Gavin Ware, finished with only 6 points, nearly 10 below his SEC average.

UGA closed out the first half with an 11-4 run, capped off by a Yante Maten jumper that sent the score to 32-21 going into the break.  Maten, who finished with a game-high 25 points, scored 15 of them prior to the intermission. He was unstoppable this evening, scoring on an array of layups, hook shots, and midrange jumpers.

Georgia began the second half with an 11-2 run, and after a pair of free throws from none other than Yante Maten, the Dawgs’ lead had blossomed to 43-23 with a little over 17 minutes remaining in the game.  From this point on UGA coasted, leaving Starkville with the 66-57 victory.

Charles Mann played arguably his best game of the season, scoring a season-high 21 points, six of which came on a pair of three-pointers.

Freshman Derek Ogbeide got the start tonight at the five spot, a position that has been somewhat of a revolving door for the Dawgs this season. While Ogbeide only netted 4 points, he did grab a team-high 13 rebounds.

The Dawgs have two days off before they returning to action on Tuesday night in Athens for a big time showdown with the Florida Gators.  Both Florida and Texas A&M lost today, putting UGA in a four-way tie for 4th place in the conference (with Vanderbilt being the other 7-5 team).

The contest with the Gators could have huge SEC and NCAA tournament ramifications.

 

Kentucky whips Georgia in Lexington

Here are some of my thoughts from that 82-48 shellacking:

Epic scoring drought

Georgia, a team that has had its offensive issues as of late, took it to a whole new level in Lexington on Tuesday night.  To be specific, Kenny Gaines hit a three-pointer to cut the Kentucky lead to 19-13 with 13:36 left in the half, and then UGA didn’t score a field goal for the next 18 minutes.  Let that sink in for a second.

By the time Charles Mann finally broke the dry spell on a lay up in the second half, Kentucky’s lead had grown to 52-26 with a little over 15 minutes remaining in the game.  Not making any field goals for nearly half the game is a recipe for disaster against just about any college basketball team, but it’s especially detrimental when it happens at Rupp against the #22 Wildcats.  Georgia’s 11 field goals tonight set a season low for Power 5 conference teams (UGA hit just 22% of its attempts from the floor).

Kentucky experienced an offensive rut of its own in the first half, going almost 7 minutes without a field goal, which allowed the Dawgs to get to within 6 points. Coach Calipari’s team snapped out of its funk, though, while Georgia didn’t, ending any hopes that Coach Fox’s team might have had of keeping the game close heading into the intermission; Kentucky led 42-24 at the break.

Kentucky’s backcourt dominance

UGA came into Rupp hoping that its backcourt would carry them on the road.  Unfortunately, the Dawgs trio of J.J. Frazier, Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines were simply outplayed by the Wildcat guards.  Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis scored 24 and 14, respectively, with Murray knocking down 6 of his 10 three-point attempts.  In addition to his 14 points, Ulis had 8 assists and 3 steals, and he had J.J. Frazier’s number from the opening tip.

Frazier, Gaines and Mann combined for just 21 points, hitting 5 of their collective 24 attempts from the field. Frazier, who had only 4 of those points, failed to connect from the floor, missing all 8 of his attempts.

Turnover differential

The Dawgs do not have the firepower on their roster to go into Lexington and play sloppy, and yet, that’s exactly what happened on Tuesday night for Coach Fox’s team.  Credit the Wildcats – they have great athletes and Calipari does get them to play hard man defense. But Georgia was extremely careless with the ball on Tuesday, turning it over 15 times. Unfortunately, Kentucky committed just 7 turnovers, so Georgia gifted the Wildcats, who made over 52% from the floor, an extra 8 possessions.  The culprit for 6 of UGA’s turnovers was none other than senior Charles Mann.

Georgia is now 13-9 overall and 6-5 in the SEC. Sadly, UGA just made its second consecutive appearance on ESPN’s “Bubble Watch” prior to tonight’s game. But after suffering their second beatdown to a ranked team on national television, the Dawgs are more than likely off that bubble now.

UGA has a couple of days off before hitting the road again to take on Missy State in Starkville this Saturday night.

 

 

J.J. Frazier’s stellar season

Back in November of last year, both Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann were selected to the Preseason All-SEC team.  In fact, they were both First Team selections.

Odds are that neither of them will be on the First Team when the teams are chosen at the conclusion of the year.  Gaines, who is averaging 13.5 points per SEC game, may wind up on the Second Team.

Barring an epic meltdown, Georgia should have a representative from its backcourt on that First Team, though; and that person is J.J. Frazier.

Frazier is having a fantastic SEC season, and he is on the leaderboard in 7 out of the 13 categories that the conference tracks. Four of those statistical areas pertain to rebounding and blocked shots, which J.J. can hardly be faulted for since he is typically the smallest player on the court (yet he is second on the UGA team in rebounding, grabbing 4.9 a game on the year).

In conference games, Frazier is netting nearly 17 points a night, and he is making almost 45% of his three-point attempts. J.J. has a stellar assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.7.  Oh yeah, and he’s leading everyone with 2.5 steals a contest in league games.

While Frazier’s perimeter shooting has been remarkable thus far, it’s certainly not his only weapon.  Everyone remembers Frazier’s 37-point effort against Missy State last year, a game in which J.J. nailed all 7 of his three-point shots. The problem with that game, though, was that it let the cat out of the bag on Frazier, warning the rest of the league that he needed to be guarded closely beyond the arc.  For the most part, teams obliged, keeping a defender close to J.J. at all times, which severely limited his open outside looks. The result: Frazier only scored in double-figures 5 times in the remaining 14 games.

The issue was that last season J.J.’s offense centered around three-pointers.

This year, however, that is not the case.  Frazier has shown his ability to take the ball to the rim this season, and if defenders play him too tight on the perimeter, he just goes by them. Last year, only 39% of J.J.’s field goals were two-pointers. This season, that number has risen to 50%, and the year isn’t over yet.  Offensively, Frazier is much more dynamic this season compared to last.

Simply put, Frazier is integral to UGA’s success.  He and Yante Maten are the two guys that Coach Fox must have on the court and out of foul trouble if this team is going to make a late-season push for the NCAA tournament.

Georgia is just 3-5 this year in games in which Frazier scores 12 points or less, and they are 10-3 on the season when he goes over that number.