Georgia’s string of miraculous finishes orchestrated by J.J. Frazier came to a screeching halt today in Hogville as Arkansas punished the Dawgs 85-67 in Fayetteville this afternoon. A game that was close for the first twenty minutes quickly spiraled out of control for UGA as Arkansas began to assert its will both offensively and defensively. Georgia followed up a 38% first half effort from the floor by shooting just 25% after the break, while Arky made over 60% of its shots in the game’s final twenty minutes.
The Razorbacks started the second half with a 10-2 run that saw their 38-37 halftime lead blossom to 48-39 with 17:30 left. With a little over 15 minutes remaining, J.J. picked up his 4th foul and had to sit with his team trailing 53-44. Arkansas brutalized the Dawgs in Frazier’s absence, going on a 9-2 run that put them up 62-46 with 11:46 remaining. Frazier would return, but it would not matter. The Hogs continued to score without much resistance and coasted to a relatively easy home win.
UGA’s defense failed big time on Saturday. The Dawgs’ zone looked out of sorts all afternoon, especially on defending cutters inside the lane. Georgia’s rotations by its help defenders were basically nonexistent, and Arkansas took advantage by racking up a whopping 48 points in the paint. The Razorbacks had 4 players finish in double-figures, and they shot over 55% from the field as a team. Maybe the Dawgs came into this game focused on locking down the perimeter, since Arkansas is the best three-point shooting team in SEC play. UGA managed to hold the Hogs to just 21% from beyond the arc, but it didn’t matter as Arky had a field day accumulating a plethora of easy baskets in the lane.
For Georgia, the sledding wasn’t nearly as simple on offense. The Razorback defense consistently pushed the UGA guards out well beyond the three-point arc, which forced the Dawgs into a number of off-balanced shots. Frazier led all scorers with 24 points, but he had to work hard for them as he routinely was the target of traps whenever he came off ball screens on the perimeter. Arkansas is much more talented than Alabama, LSU and Auburn. J.J. needed help on the outside, but he didn’t get it. Tyree Crump and Juwan Parker each shot 2 for 10 from the floor, and Turtle Jackson connected on just 2 of his 7 attempts. As amazing as Frazier has been in the past three wins, he wasn’t able to do it alone against a more talented Razorback defense.
The only other Bulldog to score in double-digits was Derek Ogbeide, who finished with 12 points to go along with 7 rebounds. He scored 10 of those points before the break, and then Ogbeide sort of disappeared in the second half as the Razorbacks ratcheted up the pace of this game.
Andy Katz labeled this one as a must win for Georgia if they hoped to earn an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament. With the loss, it would seem that UGA would need to reach the finals of the SEC Tournament to receive serious consideration for the Big Dance. The fact of the matter is that Georgia really doesn’t have many significant wins on its resume. Vanderbilt is the only RPI Top 50 team that the Dawgs have beaten this year. To play on into March in the only tournament that matters, Georgia probably needs to notch a couple of RPI Top 50 wins next week.