After trailing by double digits for much of the second half, Mississippi tried to mount a comeback down the final stretch of the game. Following a jumper by Breein Tyree, the Rebels had cut the Georgia (11-5; 3-1) lead to 53-44 with 5:37 remaining. The Ole Miss (10-6; 1-3) crowd, which hadn’t had much to cheer about for the previous thirty-something minutes, finally started to come to life. On the ensuing possession, however, J.J. Frazier delivered a crushing three-pointer, which sent the Dawgs’ advantage back up above 10 points. Frazier’s bucket sparked the Georgia offense, which had connected on only 37% of its previous attempts, and the Dawgs closed out the game by making 5 of their last 9 shots en route to a 69-47 blowout of the home team.
Offensively, it just wasn’t Ole Miss’s night. Of course, it didn’t help that the team’s leading scorer, Deandre Burnett, who averages 19 ppg, left the court with an ankle injury with about 4 minutes remaining before the break, after scoring just 3 points. Unfortunately for Andy Kennedy’s team, Burnett wouldn’t return to the game. The Rebels’ second-leading scorer, Terrance Davis, netted 9 of his 12 points quickly after the intermission, but he eventually had to sit for a large chunk of the second half due to foul trouble.
Usually, when a team’s best players aren’t on the court, that team is going to struggle to score the basketball. Ole Miss came into the game shooting 44% from the field; on Wednesday night they hit under 28% from the floor. The Rebels were making over 36% from beyond the arc, but this evening they failed to make more than 10% from the perimeter. Even the free throw line flummoxed them: Ole Miss hit just 53% from the stripe, which was a far cry from its season average of 75%.
But it wasn’t all just bad shooting and a lack of personnel. Coach Mark Fox’s team did an excellent job of mixing in their zones with man defense, and the UGA perimeter players for the most part effectively closed out on the Rebel shooters.
Georgia was led offensively by Frazier and Yante Maten, who scored 17 and 15, respectively. Frazier looked more comfortable from beyond the arc, where he knocked down 3 of his 7 attempts. Maten notched another double-double as he snagged a team-high 11 boards, and the junior scored all but 2 of his points after halftime.
All and all, though, UGA didn’t look that great on offense. Ole Miss ran an extended 1-3-1 zone that transitioned into a 2-3 for much of the night, and it served to limit the number of good looks at the basket for Georgia. The Dawgs seemed unsure of how to attack the pressure, which should be a major concern going into the Florida game. Georgia connected on only 40% from the floor and less than 28% from beyond the arc in Oxford, and I fear that a similar effort in Gainesville this Saturday could leave the Dawgs on the receiving end of a blowout.
Once again, UGA had trouble taking care of the ball. After turning it over 20 times last weekend against Missouri, Georgia committed another 14 tonight in Mississippi. Mark Fox’s team took a 30-18 advantage into the intermission, but had they not given the ball away 10 times in the first half, UGA could have been up by 20 points or more at that point.
The biggest positive takeaway on the night for the Dawgs offensively has to be their efficiency from the free throw line, where Georgia sunk 22 of its 25 attempts.
This victory is UGA’s second conference road win of the young SEC season, and it marks Georgia’s best RPI win to date as the Rebels came ranked 38th.
The Dawgs return to action this Saturday at high noon against the Florida Gators in Gainesville, a place where Mark Fox has yet to win.