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.

 

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6 thoughts on “Vanderbilt shuts Georgia down in Nashville

  1. I have refrained from commenting for two games almost laughing at all the commentary about what our Dawgs need to do to get to the dance ( or NIT). Face it folks—this is not an NCAA team and it will get there only by a fluke of Feltonian magnitude. I posted at the beginning of the year that I thought the NIT was likely to be the best we could hope for (even though I really hoped we’d do better) My fear was that the toughness the dawgs displayed last season would not survive the loss of Thornton—a true warrior out there —and Neme. We just don’t have the grit and muscle that those two showed regularly. Maten is becoming a really fine player who may evolve along those lines and I also believe Ogbeide has the potential to be a beast. We shall see.
    So what do we do to salvage the season? At this point I’d start preparing for the future by playing Turtle more for some seasoning–we have to hope as a point guard that he comes to distribute the rock better than Mann or JJ does. Legacy or no, I’d keep Kessler on the bench and play Geno and Willridge more. And I am just perplexed by Kenny Gaines, who doesn’t even play good defense much of the time these days after being our best on-the-ball defender last year. Hoop’s last paragraph is very telling and illustrates just how mediocre this team is. And I am sad to say that they are not much fun to watch in their current state.

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  2. regarding the chip towers article in the ajc: is he watching the same team i’m watching? in a state rich with basketball talent, fox can’t get good players. this year, game by game, they have two players, sometimes three. if you’re a hot recruit and want to play deep into the tournament, why would you want to come to georgia and run their dopey gene hackman offense? keeping fox is tantamount to telling a potential recruit “we’re a mediocre program and we plan to stay that way”. fox needs to go and he can take towers with him.

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    1. I must say that I disagree with you. I think that Chip Towers’ article was right on the mark. I have also been following the Dawgs since Hugh Durham’s reign. Like you, I yearn for more success. At the same time, we have not had such consistent success EVER. Unless, the team just packs it in over the next four games and goes out quietly in Nashville, I don’t think there is a chance Fox will be gone. I do think McGarrity will not wait forever to go to the next level though. I expect that next season will be a make-or-break one for Coach Fox. I really like him as a person and I hope he can find a way to get them to play together and win these next four.

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  3. I disagree with the statement that we lack sufficient talent to compete. While we lack depth, our top four have shown an array of skills at various times that would complement each other tremendously were they ever to display them all at once. I don’t believe in talent regression in players this young — if you’ve shown a talent, you own that talent, unless you’re hurt. I do believe that young players can get discouraged if they don’t trust the process that’s been implemented, or how they’re being utilized within it.

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  4. We are not a blue chip program in basketball, so the success each year will usually come down to how well the seniors play. As mentioned by others, last year Thornton and Nemi had great senior season, playing better than they ever had before and carrying us to the NCAA.

    This has been a very disappointing senior campaign for Gaines and Mann. These two seniors were supposed to be able to carry us to more wins even with the lack of depth on the front line. The lack of consistent scoring or good assist/turnover ratio out of these two senior guards is all you need to know as far as Georgia not making the NCAA.

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  5. Now that the NCAA is out of the question, lets not overlook the value of the NIT. Extra games for Turtle, Edwards and the other freshmen would be big as we need major contributions from them next season.

    According to this site – http://www.dratings.com/predictor/bracketology/ – the Hoop Dawgs are currently “last four in” for the NIT. We can’t afford to lose to Auburn, even on the road, if we want to make even the NIT.

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