With the way Marquette shot the ball on Sunday, it was hard to determine whether it was raining harder outside Stegeman Coliseum or in it.
After trailing by as much as 16 points early in the second half, Georgia cut the Marquette lead to 72-70 with 7:06 remaining following a pair of free throws from William “Turtle” Jackson. For a brief moment, UGA appeared to have resurrected itself from the land of the dead and looked poised to battle the Golden Eagles down the stretch. That moment was fleeting, though, as Marquette went on an 11-0 run that was capped off by a Markus Howard three-pointer, which put his team up 83-70 with just 4:29 left. Georgia wouldn’t climb out of this hole, and the Golden Eagles walked out of Stegeman with a 89-79 victory.
Howard hit 3 three-pointers on the night and finished with 15 points. He was one of four Golden Eagles to knock down 2 or more shots from beyond the arc. The last time Georgia had four players hit multiple three’s in one game was – er, quite a while ago, I’m guessing?
Marquette torched the Dawgs’ man defense for 8 three-pointers in the first half, only missing two. After the intermission, Coach Mark Fox switched his team into a matchup zone which enabled them to close out better on the Golden Eagle shooters, limiting them to just 5 three’s on 26% shooting from the perimeter in the second half. The Dawgs’ exterior defense wasn’t the only issue, though. Marquette had their way with Georgia off the dribble, and UGA’s help defense on the inside was seriously lacking. The Golden Eagles had four players finish in double-figures with Sam Hauser leading the way with 19 points. In addition to all the scoring, Marquette thoroughly dominated Georgia on the glass, winning the battle of the boards by a tally of 42-31, and 15 of those rebounds were of the offensive variety.
As much as I would like to point to strategic mishaps that ultimately led to UGA’s demise in this one, I really do not think that that was the case. Rather, Georgia simply doesn’t have the talent to play with and beat a team of Marquette’s caliber (or Clemson’s or Kansas’s, for that matter). Yante Maten and J.J. Frazier scored 24 and 22, respectively, and the Dawgs’ hit nearly 50% of their attempts from the floor, yet that still wasn’t enough firepower to match Marquette’s 89 points.
This UGA team has a serious talent drop off after accounting for Maten and Frazier. Center Luke Fischer, who is arguably Coach Wojo’s best player, only saw 7 minutes of court time in the first half due to foul trouble, and his team still took a 46-43 advantage into the break. Wojo has five legitimate scoring threats who at any time can either take their man off the dribble or hit a perimeter shot. How many guys like that does Coach Mark Fox have?
Right now, Fox has one guy who can consistently knock down outside shots (Frazier), and that is a problem. Georgia got nice efforts out of Mike Edwards and Turtle Jackson, who netted 11 and 8 points, respectively, but they are just not a very scary team to defend. If team’s can yield over 20 points to both Maten and Frazier and still win by 10, then the Dawgs’ postseason aspirations should go no further than the NIT.
UGA is now 5-3 on the season, and 0-3 in its attempts to secure a win against a team from another Power 5 conference.
Due to final exams, Georgia will have over a week to brood over this one before hitting the court again on December 14th, when the host Louisiana-Lafeyette.