Dawgs outlast Auburn at home

After sleepwalking through much of the game’s first 20 minutes, the Georgia Bulldogs (13-8; 6-4) woke up and took command of today’s contest against Auburn during the first 4 minutes of this game’s second half.  During this stretch, the Dawgs went on an 8-1 run that enabled them to open up a 39-25 lead with 16:03 remaining.

UGA’s lead grew to as much as 25 points at times during the second half as the Tigers struggled mightily to put the ball in the basket.  Even after 10 minutes of play, Auburn managed just 5 points during  the first 10 minutes following the intermission.

Both teams played their backups for the final stretch of the game though, which enabled Auburn to cut the Georgia lead to 65-55 by the time the final horn sounded.

The Tigers made less than 26% of their field goal attempts in Athens on Saturday.  Much of that, however, can be attributed to Auburn’s inefficient offense rather than the Dawgs’ defense.  While Georgia did a pretty good job of contesting the Tigers’ shots, Bruce Pearl’s team was playing without its leading scorer, point guard Kareem Canty, who was netting over 18 points per game.  And let’s be honest: without Canty, that team is just not that good.

UGA’s shot the balll pretty abysmal as well as the Dawgs connected on under 36% of their field goal attempts. Georgia was led offensively by J.J. Frazier, who scored 16 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Yante Maten and Charles Mann each chipped in 12 points, and Maten snagged 12 boards as well to finish with yet another double-double.  Yante also had 5 blocks, all but one of them coming against Auburn’s Cinmeon Bowers.  Bowers kept trying to drive the ball into Maten’s body, only to have his shot batted back by Yante.  At one point, I found myself almost pitying Bowers.

Ultimately, Georgia crushed Auburn in the paint, where the Dawgs outscored the Tigers 34-18 on the night.

This game had sandwich written all over it.  After toppling #25 South Carolina at home in Athens, the Dawgs looked primed for an upset with a road date at Kentucky on the horizon. Georgia hung tough though, despite getting only 7 points from senior guard Kenny Gaines.

Tonight’s win over Auburn was fairly uninspiring, yet it was important as Georgia again avoided a bad loss.  ESPN recently added Georgia to its “Bubble Watch” coming into today’s game, and the Dawgs held serve to keep their NCAA tournament dreams alive.

Coach Mark Fox’s team has a road date with Kentucky on Tuesday in Lexington.  The Dawgs are in desperate need of RPI Top 50 wins at this point, and they have yet to beat the Wildcats at their place under the leadership of Mark Fox.

If UGA hopes to be dancing in March, they are going to have to win a few games that no one gives them a chance in. And winning at Kentucky on Tuesday would be a great start.