Quick recap: Dawgs upset Gators 72-60 to earn huge SEC win

Maten’s 20 points carried his team in tonight’s win over Florida

Below is the box score from tonight’s game and some quick thoughts on what were the keys to Georgia’s (13-8; 4-5) victory:


Big defensive effort

Georgia’s defense suffocated Florida inside Stegeman this evening, especially down the stretch.  After Jalen Hudson hit a three-pointer to put his team up 51-48 with 10:40 left in the game, the Gators went over 9 minutes before converting another field goal.  But by the time Keith Stone made said triple, his Gators were down 66-56 with just 1:09 to play.  Florida shot 2 for 19 over the final 10 minutes of this contest.  Granted, the Gators definitely became a little selfish during this span and didn’t necessarily run much of an offense, but credit the Bulldog defense for making life difficult for Mike White’s team when the game was on the line.

The Dawgs held Florida to just 60 points, which is the Gators’ lowest offensive output of the season.  Mike White’s team entered this game scoring 81 points a night and shooting nearly 45% from the floor; tonight Georgia limited Florida to under 37% on its field goal attempts.

Responding at the right time

We all know the old adage that basketball is a game of runs, but this game REALLY was a game of runs.  With Georgia trailing 24-18 with 6:47 remaining in the first half, Tyree Crump came off the bench to bury a triple and cut the Gator lead in half.  Crump would hit another three-pointer two possessions later, and his hot hand sparked a 15-2 UGA spurt that was capped off by an emphatic dunk from Yante Maten which made it 33-26, Georgia, and enabled the Dawgs to carry a 37-32 lead into the intermission.

Florida started the second half with guns ablazin’ and ran off a 12-2 run in less than 3 minutes that gave them a 44-39 edge.  This was the moment when Georgia fans began to wonder if UGA was destined to lose its grip on another big lead a la the Auburn and Arkansas games.  Luckily, the players had shorter memories and didn’t seemed fazed by the rejuvenated Florida team that returned for the second half; the Dawgs went on a 14-3 run over a nearly 7-minute span that saw a 48-43 Gator lead evaporate and turn into a 57-51 UGA advantage.  And then of course the Georgia defense (highlighted above) kept the clamps on the Gators and enabled Georgia to earn another RPI Top 50 win (with Florida sitting at 38 before the game).

Bench steps up

Mark Fox got 20 points and some overall solid contributions from his bench tonight.  In addition to his two three’s, Crump also had a pair of boards and two nice assists. Jordan Harris had 7 points himself to go along with 5 boards, and he probably had his best dribble-drive of the season on a take through the lane late in the second half.  But the biggest effort of the night for a UGA player that didn’t start had to be the play of freshman Nicolas Claxton.  Claxton continues to be a force on the offensive glass, where he hauled down 4 of his 8 boards.  I was surprised to find that he only had 3 blocks because honestly it felt like he had more with the way he’s altering shots in the paint.  At this point, it seems that Claxton has wrested Mike Edwards’s spot of “first big off the bench”, and at this rate he may play himself into a starting role as he appears to be gaining ground on Derek Ogbeide.

Up next

Georgia hits the road to take on Mississippi State in Starkville this Saturday night.  The Maroon Dawgs have been rather stout at home, where they have earned wins over Missouri, Vanderbilt and Arkansas.

Kansas State edges out Georgia in Big 12/SEC game

DUkuMb1U8AAZ45T.jpgGeorgia’s offense is a one-man show, and when that man is double-teamed, the show quickly comes to a grinding halt.  Today in Manhattan, UGA had the following stretches of basketball in minutes in which they went without a field goal: 4:09 (1st half), 7:10 (1st half) and 6:51 (2nd half).  The 6:51 field goal-less span of game turned out to be the most devastating for the Dawgs as it occurred over the final 7+ minutes of this contest.

The game was locked up at 49-49 with 5:21 left, but the Dawgs (12-8, 3-5) couldn’t muster the offense necessary to earn a road win against Kansas State.  The Wildcats doubled Maten relentlessly during the final portion of the game, sometimes before the senior had even received the ball.  Yante had only 1 shot attempt over the last 4 minutes of play.  Conversely, K-State big, Dean Wade, who averages 16 ppg, scored 2 monster buckets in the game’s final 2 minutes, and his team won 56-51.  Good teams rely on their stars to win games for them at the end; Georgia couldn’t even get its star the ball.

Here’s the box score:

georgia ksu

ksu georgia

Yup, Georgia scored 51 points.  I thought the trip outside the conference might help the Dawgs locate some sort of offensive rhythm; boy was I wrong.  Georgia took slow tempo to a whole new level. Mark Fox’s team had 0 fast break points. UGA’s offense is run by a man named Turtle, which is kind of fitting considering the pace at which Georgia plays.  Maten only got 14 points, but to be fair, he was shadowed by multiple Wildcat defenders all afternoon. He’s the only threat on this team, and opponents are fully aware.  Honestly, I feel bad for the kid.  Playing these types of games has to be incredibly frustrating.

Turtle had one of his worst games of the season as he shot just 1 of 10 from the floor. Jackson had two opportunities for layups late in the second half, and he couldn’t convert either.  Both misses were troublesome as he was pretty much left unguarded as his man chose to follow Maten off of a screen-and-roll each time.  Had Turtle made the shots, maybe Yante would have gotten more opportunities.

Juwan Parker had a great first half, scoring 7 of his 11 points, but he REALLY hurt the Dawgs down the stretch in this one. Parker had 2 turnovers and a wild three-pointer that caromed off the backboard (which basically made his 3rd turnover) in the final 4 minutes.  Remember how the game was tied at 49? These plays didn’t help.

Rayshaun Hammonds was reinserted into the starting lineup, but the freshman could not take advantage. Rather, he continued to struggle to put the ball in the basket.  After making his second shot, Hammonds then missed his next 5 attempts.  He had a soft take to the basket with a smaller guard on him that he couldn’t finish, and he failed to connect on multiple open looks from beyond the arc.  At the start of the year, NBAdraft.net had Hammonds listed on its 2019 Mock Draft, but that’s not the case anymore.  The highly-touted freshman scored in double-figures 5 times prior to conference play, but he’s eclipsed that mark just 3 times since getting into the SEC slate. He’s also posted 4 goose eggs in the scoring column in 4 games during that same time span. Hammonds does not look confident at all with the ball in his hands right now, and I’m not sure how much better that’s going to get this season.

Georgia’s defense is legit; there’s no doubt about it.  It’s the only thing keeping them in games at this point.  UGA held a K-State team that came into the game averaging 77 a night to just 56 points and 38% from the floor.  Dean Wade got 20 points, but the team’s leading scorer, Barry Brown, who scores over 17 a contest, was limited to only 9 points on a 2 of 9 effort from the floor.  For the most part, the Dawgs only gave the Wildcats one chance to score each trip as they held K-State to 4 offensive rebounds and just 4 second chance points.

The offense is completely handcuffing this team.  They did a few nice things offensively, stress on the word “few”. Georgia hit 4 of 5 to start the game with 4 different players making the shots.  Derek Ogbeide and Tyree Crump ran several beautiful screen-and-rolls that resulted in easy buckets at the rim for Ogbeide.  But then the Dawgs go minutes upon minutes without scoring.  They can’t get the ball to their best player during  critical moments of the game, and there’s no one else on the court that can put the ball in the basket and garner some of the defense’s attention.  Looking back on that win at LSU – how on earth did the Tigers allow the ball to go into Maten?  If I’m coaching LSU on that last in-bounds play, I’m putting two guys on Yante.  Maybe three. I’m letting anyone else on Georgia try to beat me.  That’s what K-State did in the second half, and that’s why they won.

Georgia’s now lost 3 in a row and 5 of its last 6. The Dawgs play #20 Florida inside Stegeman on Tuesday. Yikes.



UGA basketball: beating the dead horse edition

If you want to find the reason why the Georgia Bulldogs are 3-5 in SEC play and putting up the lowest point total (64.1) in league games, look no further than the UGA guards.  The Dawgs have the worst turnover margin (-4.9) in conference games along with the lowest assist-to-turnover ratio (0.8). Successful teams are built around strong guard play, especially at the point guard position.  If you watch this year’s NCAA Tournament, you will notice a theme that emerges among the advancing teams: solid guard play.  Not to beat a dead horse, but Georgia’s guard play is its glaring weakness. It’s Achilles heel, if you will.

UGA’s wins away from Athens over Saint Mary’s and Marquette seem like distant memories at this point.  But looking back on each of those games, I have a theory as to how the Dawgs managed to pull off those upsets.  Both the Gaels and the Golden Eagles understood that they had to double Yante Maten, and they did.  However, what these teams did not do (that all the SEC teams are doing now) is relentlessly pressure Georgia’s backcourt.  Anyone who has watched UGA’s recent string of games has probably noticed that they are seeing a lot more full-court press.  When Georgia does cross the halfcourt line, opponents are pressing the Georgia guards well past the three-point line with aggressive man defense.  This increase in pressure is making it difficult for the Dawgs to get into their offensive sets, and even if they manage to there is generally not a whole lot of time remaining on the shot clock.  While SEC teams are still by and large doubling on Maten when he receives the ball on the block, they really don’t have to stress it quite as much because Georgia’s guards are struggling to get the ball to him.

All that being said, fans should not be overly frustrated with the play of Turtle Jackson and Juwan Parker.  Both of those players were 3-star recruits coming out of high school, according to rivals.com, and I’d say that each of them has met and exceeded expectations.  Turtle, who is scoring 6.5 ppg in SEC play, is not going to break anyone down off the dribble and take guys to the rim; that’s just not who he is; it’s not in his skill set.  He does get the ball up the court and where it needs to go most of the time, and he’s turned into a fairly reliable three-point shooter this season (36%), although his SEC numbers have been less gaudy (26%).  Parker is getting 9.4 ppg in conference games, and he’s hitting a robust 50% from beyond the arc, which is by far the best outside shooting he’s done during his time in Athens.  If Parker can bump his scoring average up by just 0.6 ppg, the Dawgs will have another player averaging in double-figures in SEC contests (along with Maten).

Jordan Harris and Tyree Crump were expected to shore up some of the scoring load vacated by J.J. Frazier’s departure, but that hasn’t gone according to plan.  They are COMBINING for just 7 ppg in league play.  The fact that these two players haven’t developed more to this point means either they were slightly overrated as 4-star recruits, or they haven’t been given the opportunity to grow in their first year and half in Athens.  Multiple times this season Mark Fox has lamented not having J.J. Frazier to bring the ball up or to be that catalyst for the offense.  But being that Frazier was a college athlete, Fox knew from the day J.J. set foot in Stegeman that his time with him had a limit.

Last year was one of Georgia’s best teams talent-wise under Coach Mark Fox considering he had two All-SEC players in J.J. Frazier and Yante Maten.  I thought for sure that team would make the NCAA tournament, and I was wrong (my punishment was having to endure the Belmont NIT game).  Before anyone says that Maten got hurt, remember that UGA was 6-7 in the conference BEFORE the game with Kentucky in which he sprained his knee.

With J.J. gone, Maten has tried to take on more and he’s played admirably, scoring 19.5 points and grabbing 9.5 rebounds in league contests.  He’s on the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 list.  But he’s leaving after this year.  Take Maten off this year’s team, look at what’s left and that’s the team that UGA is going to begin the year with next season.

I am in no way attempting to be derogatory about any of the current Georgia players.  It is on Mark Fox to figure out how to bolster the UGA backcourt by either recruiting and/or developing better.  I am aware of the “Mark Fox runs a clean program and he recruits the right way” argument, but to those people I say this: Vanderbilt has been to the NCAA tournament 5 times since Fox took over in Athens.  Vanderbilt does not pay its players or have a recruiting base anywhere near Georgia’s (see Atlanta).  How does Georgia create a culture of basketball success comparable to what the ‘Dores have cooking in Nashville?

Quick take on Georgia’s home loss to Arkansas

Prior to tonight, the Arkansas Razorbacks had yet to win a true road game, and they were 0-9 in games in which they trailed at the half.  Both those boxes quickly became checked, however, when Arkansas’s Trey Thompson recovered on defense and blocked Yante Maten from behind on a play that looked as though it would result in UGA (12-7, 3-5) taking the lead.  Instead, the ball kicked off Maten as he headed out of bounds with 2.2 seconds left; Daryl Macon sunk a pair of free throws and the Hogs escaped with the 80-77 victory after Maten’s last-second three-pointer failed to connect.

The loss at Auburn last weekend was difficult to absorb because of how quickly and mercilessly the Tigers dismantled Georgia after the break.  Tonight’s loss was a back-and-forth game that UGA, unfortunately, could not close out.

Box score


Missed opportunities for Georgia

Besides the block at the very end that prevented Maten from putting Georgia on top, the Dawgs had several other opportunities late in regulation and the first overtime to win the game, but they just couldn’t capitalize.

Situation #1: With a 1:30 remaining, Maten made a beautiful pass to a cutting Nicolas Claxton who let the ball bounce off his hands and out of bounds rather than catching it and dunking it.  Had Claxton finished the play, Georgia would have held a 63-61 advantage with 1:23 left.  But he didn’t, and Arkansas kicked the ball to guard Anton Beard off of an offensive rebound that broke the tie, making it 63-61 Razorbacks with 28 seconds on the clock.

Situation #2: I realize that Jordan Harris hit a pair of clutch free throws to tie the game and help send Georgia to overtime.  However, he had a chance to give his team the lead with 35 seconds left in the first OT, but the sophomore could only connect on 1 of 2 from the stripe.  Claxton blocked Barford’s lay-up attempt on the next trip down, making Harris’s miss even more painful.

Situation #3: Immediately after Claxton’s block (mentioned above in “Situation #2”) the ball landed in Turtle Jackson’s hands with almost 8 seconds remaining.  Jackson struggled to push the ball up the court and then took a running three-pointer with 2 seconds left that clanked off the right side of the rim.  Turtle has to be aware of the situation in that moment as he probably could have gotten a shot much closer to the rim.

Another big first half lead

Much like the Auburn game, Georgia built up a big lead early, getting up by a count of 27-11 after a triple by E’Torrian Wilridge with 6:40 left in the half.  The Dawgs, a team that averages 5 three-pointers a night in SEC play, had already hit that number by halftime.  Offensively, Arkansas looked lost for much of the first half as they played selfishly and spent a lot of time dribbling and standing around.

But Mike Anderson lit a fire under his squad over the final stretch of play before the break, and his Hogs ratcheted up their defense.  Georgia panicked under the Razorback pressure; the Dawgs did not look a team that was on offense when they possessed the ball.  UGA’s last 6 possessions of the half resulted in 2 turnovers and 4 missed shots, and the teams headed to the locker rooms with Georgia leading 33-28.

Arkansas’s guards just too much

Arkansas guards Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon are both in the top 10 in the league in scoring in SEC games this season.  Barford leads the conference with over 20 a night, and Macon entered tonight’s game scoring almost 17 a contest.  For the first 33 minutes of regulation, Barford had his way with Georgia, scoring 24 points on a combination of three-pointers and drives.  Credit Coach Fox for putting Jordan Harris on him for the final 6 minutes of play as he kept Barford from scoring again.

Almost on cue, though, Macon began to come on big in the second half and overtime.  Macon, who was held scoreless for the game’s first 20 minutes, ended up with 25 points overall, and he notched 16 of those in the overtimes.  Even as Turtle Jackson extended his defense further out to contest Macon’s three-point attempts, the unconscious Razorback guard just kept edging further away and making shots.

Up next

Georgia takes a break from SEC play this weekend as they hit the road to take on Kansas State as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.




Auburn blows Georgia out in 2nd half to cruise to 79-65 win

Tucker native Bryce Brown lit up the Dawgs for 28 points.

Before we even talk about that second half, consider this chilling fact: Auburn has 3 starters that are from Georgia (12-6, 3-4).  Shooting guard Bryce Brown, who scored 28 points on 5 three-pointers, is from Tucker.  Georgia’s Juwan Parker, who was the recipient of much of Brown’s abuse, probably wishes that his coach had offered the Auburn junior.  Tigers’ point guard Jared Harper had 13 points, 6 assists and 2 steals; Anfernee McLemore had 10 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks.  All of them are from the Peach State.

Here’s the box score:

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At this point, it’s still hard to believe that the first half even happened.  After building up a 40-26 lead at the break, Georgia fell to pieces coming out for the final 20 minutes of play.  Auburn switched out of its man defense and into a 1-3-1 zone, and Georgia responded by standing around a lot on offense.  The Tigers came out of the intermission firing from the perimeter as they hit 4 of 5 from beyond the arc in the first 5 minutes, and all of a sudden the Georgia lead was just 42-39.  Auburn would knock down 6 three’s in the second half and 10 in the game.  After holding the Tigers, a team averaging 83 points a game in SEC play, to just 26 points in the first 20 minutes, it was surreal to watch Bruce Pearl’s team blow the doors off Georgia in such an incredibly dominant fashion.  Auburn shot 25% in the first half, but knocked down over 58% in the second, while Georgia went from 56% from the field prior to the break to just 25% from the floor after it. UGA didn’t convert its first field goal of the second half until there was only 6:45 left to play in the game. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a team dish out a 31-4 run to start a half; I hope I never have to see such a spectacle again.

Basically, the wheels starting coming off, came off and then rolled all the way to Toomer’s Corner before Mark Fox and Georgia recognized what was happening.  Fox let his team play through the Tiger onslaught all the way to the first media timeout of the second half, despite his team being the victim of a 10-0 run. Auburn would score 15 more points to Georgia’s 2 before Fox deemed it necessary to call a timeout to try to stymie the Tigers’ momentum.  By that point, UGA’s 14-point halftime advantage had turned into a 51-44 lead for Auburn. Yante Maten, the obvious person to get the ball to when things needed to settle, only had 2 shot attempts through the first 14 minutes of the second half.  Maten wasn’t without fault, however, as he gave the ball away 3 times during that same time span and ended up with 6 turnovers on the night. Georgia’s offense stopped moving and its passes got sloppy as the Dawgs committed 13 turnovers following the break (18 in the game).  Whatever Fox’s strategy was for calming his team in this raucous atmosphere, it didn’t take. Personally, I thought the team might have benefited from a timeout on several occasions early in the second half just to slow things down a bit.

Even when Georgia held the advantage in the first half, it didn’t feel sustainable. For starters, Juwan Parker, a career 20% three-point shooter, had 3 triples and 13 points before the intermission.  UGA never looked comfortable on offense against Auburn’s man pressure, and the Dawgs certainly weren’t attacking the rim – Georgia didn’t shoot a single free throw in the first half until Hammonds took a pair with 5:01 left once the Dawgs got into the bonus.  UGA hit 7 from the stripe during this final stretch before the half which helped them add to their lead.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but once again Georgia’s guard play was inadequate, and this definitely feels like it will be the recurring theme for the remainder of the season.  Auburn, much like LSU, South Carolina and Missouri, extended its man-to-man defense and pushed the Georgia guards well outside the perimeter.  UGA’s Turtle Jackson does not possess the ball-handling skills that are necessary to put a defender on his heels and create space – that’s just not his game.  Freshman Teshaun Hightower may become that player, but he’s not there yet.  Jackson’s scoring average has dipped below double digits to 9.8 ppg, leaving Maten as the only Bulldog averaging in double-figures.  Through the first 7 SEC games, Turtle is getting only 5.3 points a night.  Jackson is seeing a lot more defensive pressure, and that trend will only continue as the Dawgs progress through their SEC slate.

When Coach Fox signed 4-stars Jordan Harris and Tyree Crump two years ago, it seemed that he had found his backcourt replacements to handle the spot that J.J. Frazier would eventually vacate.  However, neither of those guys played a whole lot last year, which might have hampered their development.  Harris’s role on the team is convoluted at best as he’s a two-guard that doesn’t like to handle the ball and can’t shoot it that well.  If Harris were 6’7″ he’d be a perfect wing a la former UGA player Brandon Morris, but alas, Jordan is just 6’4″ and stuck with the misappropriated title of “shooting guard”. Tyree Crump came into he game and scored 5 points quickly – one on a beautiful spin move that he finished at the bucket and then another on a triple.  For whatever reason, though, the sophomore only logged 8 minutes tonight.  Even when UGA couldn’t buy a bucket in the second half, Crump, who might be the second-best scorer on the team, remained on the bench.  The knock on Crump is that he doesn’t defend well and turns the ball over too much.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t that describe nearly every Georgia guard?  I’d think Crump’s scoring prowess could at least negate some of those criticisms, especially on a team that has major issues on the offensive side of the ball.

The remainder of Georgia’s SEC schedule is daunting to say the least: two games with Florida, two with #21 Tennessee, another with #17 Auburn, one at Vandy (where UGA never wins), one at South Carolina and a home game against a Texas A&M team at the end of February when the Aggies should be at full-strength and in full NCAA Tournament form.  Mark Fox’s team will be extremely fortunate to finish this season with a .500 conference record.



Rationalizing UGA’s 3 SEC losses and comparing freshman Rayshaun Hammonds to past and present UGA bigs

Reconciling UGA’s 3 conference losses by looking at the strength of the SEC

The SEC is without a doubt a much better conference today than it was five years ago.  The league currently has 10 teams in the RPI Top 50, according to NCAA.com.  The conference had 12 recruits from the 2017 class land on the ESPN100 – no other league had more.  The SEC’s level of play has reached new heights for the conference, and ESPN analysts are projecting that as many as 8 teams could make this year’s NCAA Tournament.  In short, it’s not an easy place to play night in, night out.

All of Georgia’s losses this year – Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina – have been hard for fans to reconcile.  At Kentucky, UGA once again held a lead late into the game (up 53-49 with 5:19 remaining) only to see the Cats surge ahead and eke out the victory.  In Columbia, the Dawgs flopped and flailed on offense, and they didn’t play a whole of defense in the second half either in their loss to Missouri.  Last Saturday, Georgia’s offense was inept, and the Dawgs yielded 18 offensive boards to the Gamecocks, who rolled out of Athens with the win.

In those aforementioned games, Georgia certainly did not play anything close to its best basketball, especially on the offensive side of the court.  However, I could rationalize each of those losses as such:

Kentucky: since John Calipari took the reigns of the Wildcats, only 5 teams have won inside of Rupp Arena.  His teams have played well over 100-something games in Lexington under Coach Cal, and they’ve only lost 5 of them.

Missouri: the Tigers just knocked off #21 Tennessee at home last night.  They’ve beaten Florida at home this season, too.

South Carolina: Frank Martin’s team could be hitting its stride as they followed up their road win in Athens with a stunning upset victory at home over #18 Kentucky on Tuesday.

To be clear, I’m not making excuses for how the Dawgs played in any of these games.  For sure, Georgia needs to clean things up on offense (and possibly push the tempo), and whether they have the guards on the roster to make that happen remains to be seen.  But fans should acknowledge that these are good teams that beat Georgia, and these losses may not be as devastating in the long run as they might have felt when they occurred.

Comparing Rayshaun Hammonds to former UGA 4-star forwards and others

Rayshaun Hammonds, who started the first 16 games of the season for Georgia, was not a starter on Tuesday night in Baton Rouge.  Against the Tigers, the freshman only logged 14 minutes; he’d been averaging over 26 minutes a game prior to this one.  Logic says that Coach Fox was punishing Hammonds for his lack of effort and aggressiveness against South Carolina, a team that blanked him (though he did haul in 7 boards).

Here’s a look at Hammonds stats so far this year:


Here are the freshman year numbers for some of Georgia’s most recent 4-star bigs (and one 3-star who is still playing for the Dawgs):

Marcus Thornton (4-star)


Trey Thompkins (4-star)


Jeremy Price (4-star)


Yante Maten (3-star)



At this point, Hammonds’s stats are sitting somewhere between Maten’s and Price’s.  Maten’s jump in scoring from freshman year to sophomore year was incredible as he averaged over 16 ppg in his second year in Athens.  Price, however, never averaged in double-digits during his UGA career, but that was because Thompkins and Travis Leslie (and later Gerald Robinson, Jr.) were doing the majority of the scoring.  Next year will be a big one for both Hammonds and UGA as he will be called upon to shore up a bulk of the points that will be abandoned by Yante’s departure.

Other SEC 4-star bigs from the 2017 class

Dan Gafford (Ark): 12.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg

Jeremiah Tillman (Mizz): 8.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg

Chuma Okeke (AU): 7.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg

Rayshaun Hammonds (UGA): 6.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg

Darious Hall (Ark): 4.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg

Chase Johnson (UF): 4.3 ppg, 2 rpg

Alex Reese (Bama): 3.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg

Ejike Obinna (Vandy): 3.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg

Galen Alexander (LSU): 2.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg

Mayan Kiir (LSU): 2.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg

Derrick Walker (UT): 1.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg

Ibrahim Doumbia (SC) 0.5 ppg, 0.9 rpg

Isiah Jasey (A&M): 0.3 ppg, 0.4 rpg

Isaiah Stokes (UF): DNP

While other factors are certainly at play here (playing time, scheme, roster talent, etc.), statistically speaking, Hammonds is outperforming the majority of his 4-star forward peers.





UGA bounces back with a 61-60 road win at LSU

The boxscore

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The ending

Georgia seniors Juwan Parker and Yante Maten both made incredibly important baskets for their team down the stretch of this game.  Parker, who finished with 9 points, calmly buried a three-pointer from the top of the key to put the Dawgs on top 59-58 with only 57 seconds remaining. However, LSU pushed the ball down the court and quickly found Duop Reath on the baseline, where he connected on a jumper that reclaimed the lead for the Tigers to make it 60-59 with just 41 seconds on the clock.  The ensuing possession for UGA resulted in a three-pointer from the corner by Teshaun Hightower (which we will get to later) that missed, but fortunately for Georgia, Parker was able to corral the offensive rebound and get a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, Coach Mark Fox had his team go to its bread and butter, Maten, and he delivered with a nice one-handed shot in the middle of the lane amongst multiple LSU defenders.  With Georgia up 61-60, LSU’s Tremont Waters had only a little over 5 seconds to get the ball down the court to hoist up a long three that missed the mark, and the Dawgs snuck out of Baton Rouge with a critical SEC road win.

Let’s talk a little bit more about that final 3:16

Coming out of the final media timeout, the Bulldogs led briefly – 56-55 – before Brandon Sampson hit a triple to make it 58-56 Tigers with 2:59 remaining.  For much of the second half, Georgia had made a concerted effort to get the ball inside to Maten, who delivered as he scored 17 of his game-high 21 points after the break.  Logic would lead one to think that Maten would see multiple touches over Georgia’s final series of possessions, yet that was not the case.  Over the next 6 trips down the court, the only time the ball wound up in Maten’s hands was the last UGA possession in which he made the game-winner.  As mentioned above, Parker took one as well (and connected).  The other 4 Georgia shots were attempted by none other than freshman Teshaun Hightower, who was clearly enjoying his first start of the season.  During this stretch of game, Hightower attempted 3 three-pointers, and he missed all three; though, that’s not terribly surprising considering he’s now 4 for 22 on the year from beyond the arc.  He did have a nice steal and wound up at the free throw line, but he couldn’t convert those shots either (Hightower was 1 for 6 from the charity stripe on the night and is now shooting only 40% from the line on the season).  Hightower did have several strong drives earlier in the game. He also did an excellent job of making life difficult on LSU’s leading scorer, Tremont Waters, who finished with just 6 points (0 in the second half), which is more than 10 points lower than his scoring average.  But the freshman has to realize that this team needs him to do three things: defend well, push the ball and find ways to get it inside to Maten and Derek Ogbeide.  For now, that’s about it.

Offensive adjustments

Georgia’s first half of offense looked a lot like a continuation from the South Carolina and Missouri games.  LSU pressed out of made baskets, which forced UGA into taking a lot of shots late in the possession.  In the half court, the Tigers pushed up hard on their man defense, which caused the Georgia guards to struggle to get the offensive sets started.  It’s kind of scary how easy it is to defend UGA sometimes; Georgia’s guards can really struggle to create separation and perform as catalysts for the offense when faced with just a bit of pressure.  The Dawgs shot under 41% from the floor prior to the break, and they hit only 1 of 9 from beyond the arc.  Georgia trailed 34-24 at the half; they weren’t even on pace to match their SEC average of 62 points, which is the lowest output in the league.

Georgia made 5 of its first 8 field goals of the second half during the first 15 seconds of the possession.

Coming out of halftime, however, UGA briefly reinvented itself and actually pushed the ball down the court on consecutive possessions.  Georgia made 5 of its first 8 field goals of the second half during the first 15 seconds of the possession.  The result: UGA took a 44-41 lead with 12:19 left in the game following a three-pointer by Jordan Harris.  After scoring just 24 points the entire first half, the Dawgs had already tallied 20 in less than 8 minutes.  Considering that Georgia has been the worst offense in the league through 5 SEC games, maybe it’s time for Fox to consider employing this strategy (playing more up tempo) more often?

Second chances

LSU has been the worst rebounding team in the SEC during league play so far this season.  The Tigers have a rebounding margin of -5.4, which means they are basically being out-rebounded every single night.  Last night was no different, as the Dawgs won the battle of the boards by a tally of 25-21.  While UGA only registered 4 more rebounds than the Tigers, probably the most important place where the Dawgs won the glass was on the offensive end, where Georgia pulled down 13 rebounds.  Those boards led to 17 second-chance points for Coach Mark Fox’s team; LSU had just 5.  After yielding 18 offensive rebounds to South Carolina last Saturday, it was refreshing to see UGA give an opponent a similar treatment.

Up next

Georgia heads to The Plains this Saturday night to take on #17 Auburn, a team that is currently on a 14-game win streak.  The Tigers are 4-0 in SEC play, and their RPI is sitting at 7.

Georgia falls to South Carolina 64-57, making them 0-2 on the week

This week was a forgettable one for the UGA basketball program that is now 11-5 overall and 2-3 in the SEC.  Today’s loss in front of a sold-out crowd was a tough one for UGA fans to absorb.  The loudest it got inside Stegeman this afternoon came during a media timeout in which Kirby Smart and his son were featured on the jumbo screen above center court.  Here are my thoughts on what transpired in Athens today:

Eye-opening stats that jump out from this one (besides the 64-57 final score in favor of the Gamecocks):

46: the number of rebounds South Carolina pulled down in Athens today (UGA had 42). Carolina finished the game with an astounding 18 offensive boards.

27.1%: South Carolina’s field goal percentage.  Pretty hard to win a game when a team shoots this bad, but somehow Frank Martin’s squad pulled it off today.

14: Georgia’s turnover total.

52.6%: UGA’s 2nd half free throw percentage.  The Dawgs hit only 10 of 19 from the charity stripe following the break.

3: the number of thee-pointers that South Carolina hit when UGA had the Gamecock advantage down to 5 points or less.  The ultimate dagger, though, came at the 1:22 mark when Frank Booker buried a triple to make it 59-50, South Carolina.

I’ve spent the past hour and a half debating which facet of this game to delve into first: Georgia’s offense or its effort.  I’m more frustrated with the offense, so here goes:

UGA’s offense

Mark Fox’s offense is nothing if not pedestrian and uncomplicated, and it’s predicated on the point guard’s ability to get the ball down the middle of the court so that he can make a pass to one of the wings.  At this point, that wing will either dump it to the high post, wait for the high post to bring a ball screen, or pass it back out to a big at the top of the key (sometimes there’s a backdoor cut that comes in the paint for the guy up top to look for).  However, if Georgia doesn’t get a clear path to that first pass off to the wing, the whole thing falls apart; and that’s exactly what happened today in the first half.

South Carolina plays a physical man defense, and Frank Martin pushed his guards out high so that they could deny the ball to the UGA wings.  This move by Martin left Turtle Jackson with no one to dump the ball off to in order to get the offense going, and that resulted in Turtle doing a lot of dribbling and his teammates doing a lot of standing around. Turtle’s not the type of point guard that’s going to put a defense on its heels and trying to force him to be that guy is a nightmare scenario for Georgia.  UGA took just 23 field goal attempts in the first half and committed 7 turnovers.  Occasionally, the ball found its way into Yante Maten’s hands and good things happened as Yante scored 14 points before the break.  For most of the first half, though, it was an exercise in futility for the UGA offense, and the Dawgs went into the half trailing 37-29.

Georgia wouldn’t go away quietly, however. Coach Fox and his staff made some big-time adjustments at the half to kickstart the offense. Well actually, they made one: on-ball screens.  The Dawgs began screening up high for their guards right out of the gates to start the second half, and it helped to create some spacing and better looks.  Georgia made 4 of its first 6 field goal attempts following halftime, and they tied the game at 39 with 14:19 remaining on an old-fashioned three-point play by Juwan Parker, who ended up with 11 points.

The problem, though, was that Georgia continued to go to the ball screen every single possession.  Eventually, Frank Martin had his players switch the screens, or his bigs would edge out to provide help.  Coach Fox didn’t have a “Plan B”.  The result: UGA made just 3 field goals over the game’s final 12 minutes of play. 

It should be noted, however, that Georgia’s offense has always been fairly rigid under Coach Fox.  The past couple of years, that fact may have been masked from UGA fans because of J.J. Frazier’s incredible ability to score the ball from anywhere on the court past the half court line.  But Frazier is gone (as if that wasn’t glaringly obvious), and Georgia’s biggest question make coming into the season – its backcourt – is not looking like it’s up to the task.  Georgia is now averaging 62 points a game in SEC play, which is worst in the conference.  The Dawgs’ offense hasn’t looked right since the second half against Alabama. All of these offensive woes are on Fox because it’s his system and these are his players.

Georgia’s effort today (or lack there of)

The most consistent thing about this UGA team this year has been its defense and rebounding effort.  The Dawgs contested a majority of the Gamecocks’ shots this afternoon, but they failed to finish out possessions by limiting Carolina to just one attempt.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I checked my phone at halftime and saw that SC had 13 offensive boards at the half.  Not only that, but Frank Martin’s team was beating Georgia to nearly every loose ball.  Of the Gamecocks’ 14 second chance points, 12 of them came prior to the intermission.  Considering Carolina shot only 30% from the floor before halftime, it’s safe to say that their effort on the offensive glass played a huge role in their 8-point advantage at the break.

Miscellaneous things that I don’t understand

-E’Torrion Wilridge started again today, but he was pulled after 2 minutes and never returned to the game.  Wilridge averages 11.9 minutes a game on the season, which is the 10th most on the team.  When I played, it used to be that the best five players were known as the starters; those were the guys that garnered the most playing time because presumably they were the best players.  Fox’s use of Wilridge is mind boggling.  Is he one of the best five players?  If so, why doesn’t he play more? Or is Fox playing mind games with both opposing teams and UGA fans by not starting his best five guys?

-Tyree Crump scored 10 points in 13 minutes in the loss to Missouri earlier this week. Today, he entered the game and committed a bad foul on the perimeter that resulted in 3 free throws for the Gamecocks.  Crump was promptly yanked and never returned to the game, giving him 1 minute of play.  Crump is averaging nearly 0.5 points per minute (ppm) of play.  The only other Georgia player with a higher ppm average is Yante Maten at 0.6.  No one else is even close.  This team has a major scoring problem, yet the coach continues to keep one of his better scorers on the bench.  Sure, Crump isn’t a great defender, and he does occasionally make some unfortunate turnovers.  But so do Parker and Jordan Harris.  The difference, those two are allowed to make mistakes, and Crump simply is not.  I’d be shocked if he didn’t transfer after this season.

UGA basketball by the numbers

Below is a collection of defensive and offensive statistics that Georgia has accumulated so far this season.  They may or may not paint a picture of this team.  Without further adieu, here they are:



The number of points that UGA is allowing on defense a night.  The Dawgs are 38th in the nation in this statistical category.


Georgia’s rebounding margin over its opponents so far this year.  UGA is 33rd in the the country in this category.


The field goal percentage that the Dawgs are limiting their opponents to this season, which is 13th best in the nation.


The number of turnovers that UGA is causing its opposition to make a night.  There are 348 teams that are currently doing this better than the Dawgs.



The number of three-pointers that Georgia is making per game; there are 301 teams making more per night than UGA.  However, this number isn’t terribly surprising since Coach Mark Fox seems to have an unwritten rule that no team of his shall have more than two legitimate three-point threats.


The total number of free throw attempts that the Dawgs have hoisted up this season. They aren’t getting to the charity stripe at the rate that UGA was when Charles Mann was playing, but Georgia is in the top third nationally in this category.


The percentage of points that Georgia is getting from the free throw line; the Dawgs rank 21st in this category nationally.


UGA’s field goal percentage, which is 223rd best in the country.



The average margin that UGA goes into the half up by each game.  The Dawgs are only +1.2 points in 2nd half margin.  I suppose they’re a first-half team (see recent Missouri game).


The number of FG attempts that Georgia gets up per game.  It’s quite a low volume (273rd in country), though not that shocking considering the pace that UGA plays at.


The number of extra scoring chances that the Dawgs are getting per game. This stat is calculated by: Offensive Rebounds + Opponent Turnovers – Opponent Offensive Rebounds – Turnovers.  Teams typically get the same number of possessions, but through rebounding, ball handling, and pressure defense, one team can gain more true scoring chances than the other.


The number of double-doubles that Yante Maten has already logged this season.


Missouri drills Georgia 68-56 in Columbia

DTPGBajVQAQZFGU.jpg-large.jpegThe Georgia Bulldogs (11-4, 2-2 SEC) offense took the night off in Columbia last night against the Missouri Tigers.  The Dawgs’ man defense was strong for the first 20 minutes as they stayed in front of Mizzou and limited the Tigers to just one shot (most of the time).  Georgia held Missouri, a team averaging 10 three-pointers a night, to just 1 prior to the break. When the Dawgs returned from the locker room following the intermission, however, Coach Fox’s team forgot to bring their defense with them.  When a team can’t score, it must rely on its defense.  If that team can’t defend either, then that’s trouble; and last evening, that was Georgia.

UGA basketball strategy under Coach Mark Fox is fairly simple: hard-nosed defense along with controlled tempo offense with a lot of touches inside for the bigs.  On Wednesday, Georgia didn’t really follow either of those scripts.

Offensively, the Dawgs just weren’t themselves.  Rather than feeding the ball into its bigs, UGA opted to settle for outside shots.  The result: Georgia shot just 3 of 10 from beyond the arc, and the Dawgs scored only 10 points inside prior to the intermission (UGA hit 7 of 21 3PTers in the game). The Dawgs finished this contest with just 20 points in the paint, which is one of this team’s lowest outputs in that category this season.

Yante Maten had a particularly off night – he didn’t even convert a field goal before halftime and ended up with only 9 points in the game.  The crazy thing was Mizzou didn’t even double Maten every time he got touches; Tiger freshman Jontay Porter made life extremely difficult for Maten as he caused him to take forced looks and miss inside. Conversely, Porter notched a double-double himself with 15 points and 10 boards.

However, Yante’s bound to have an off night every once in a while, and when he does Fox needs other players to step up – that did not happen last night.  Turtle Jackson and Tyree Crump were the only Dawgs to finish in double-figures as they scored 10 apiece.  Juwan Parker (1-5) and Jordan Harris (0-4) combined for only 2 points on a 1 for 9 performance.  Both Rayshaun Hammonds and Derek Ogbeide had fairly forgettable games as they notched 7 points and 6 points, respectively.

After witnessing how fluid Georgia played last Saturday in its blowout of Alabama, it was uncanny how rigid they looked last night.  Against Bama, the Dawgs made the extra pass and found open shooters; they pounded the ball inside to their bigs.  Georgia finished that game with 13 team assists; they could only muster 8 assists on Wednesday.

The most frustrating part about this loss, though, had to be the complete lack of effort that UGA showed on the defensive end during the game’s final 20 minutes; it was vintage “The UMass game” from earlier this season.  Georgia’s bigs – Mike Edwards in particular – appeared as though they had never been asked to help guard an on-ball screen.  The whole team was disinterested in getting back on defense during Missouri’s transition offense, which resulted in numerous uncontested fast break points for the Tigers.  After hitting only 1 three in the first half, Mizzou hit 4 after the break.  The Tigers shot over 57% in the game’s final 20 minutes after making only 26% from the floor in the first half – getting a lot of wide open lay ups and dunks will certainly help bolster a team’s field goal percentage, though.

Despite all this doom and gloom, it should be noted that Georgia had a 23-20 lead at halftime.  Mizzou opened the second half with a 13-5 run, however, as they seized momentum back from UGA with 16:22 left and the Tigers leading 33-25 on a layup by Jordan Geist, who scored 10 points on the night (Mizzou had 4 players finish in double-figures).

Georgia made a run at the Tigers with a little less than 10 minutes remaining as they went on a 7-0 run, but Mizzou extinguished any hopes that the Dawgs held regarding a comeback as they responded with a 15-4 run themselves that was capped off by a bucket by Kevin Puryear that made it 57-44 with 6:01 left. The game was over.

After just playing a game in Columbia, the Dawgs will take on a team FROM Columbia this Saturday when Frank Martin’s South Carolina Gamecocks roll into town.  Considering last night’s debacle, I’d say the Dawgs need to win this one pretty bad to even up their record on the week and to get themselves over .500.  Personally, I was hoping for a big road win last night to help soften the heartache from the end of the National Championship game on Monday, but alas, the hangover continues.