The Georgia Bulldogs (10-3) notched their first conference win of the season with a 71-60 victory over the Mississippi Rebels inside Stegeman on Wednesday night. The Rebels built up an early 11-8 lead with 13:40 left after a free throw by Markel Crawford, but once the Dawgs took the lead, which they did on a jumper by Jordan Harris to make it 12-11, they never looked back. UGA went into the locker room with a 39-31 advantage, and the Dawgs basically coasted for much of the second half to secure the home win. Here are some observations:
The game was over when…
With the shot clock expiring and just 7:53 remaining, Ole Miss’s Dominik Olejniczar jumped out and fouled Juwan Parker on a hurried three-point attempt. This play had to cause any remaining hair on Andy Kennedy’s head to instantly fall out. The Rebels had scored just 1 field goal over the last 5 minutes of play, and after Parker knocked down 2 of 3 from the line, Georgia’s lead sat comfortably at 56-44.
Ole Miss’s offensive woes
To be fair, this wasn’t your grandfather’s Ole Miss (8-6) basketball team. Though the Rebels came into Stegeman with a 1-0 SEC record after besting South Carolina in the opener, Mississippi had already lost games to Illinois State, South Dakota State, Utah and Middle Tennessee.
The Rebels run a spread out offense that looks to get shots up as quickly as possible, and unfortunately for them, they were not falling. Ole Miss ended up hitting just 35% from the floor on the evening, and they only made 6 of 26 from beyond the arc. Guards Deandre Burnett and Terence Davis, who came into Athens averaging more than 28 points between them, scored a combined 8 points on Wednesday night. Georgia’s defensive effort was fair, but honestly, it didn’t need to be that great because the Rebels were chunking up misses at such a prolific rate. There were a few moments, especially in the first half, where Ole Miss’s guards were able to blow by UGA defenders for some easy layups, but other than that, not much clicked for Andy Kennedy’s team.
UGA’s offensive heroes
The Georgia offense faced a combination of man defense mixed in with some junk zones on Wednesday, but overall the Rebels appeared rather disinterested in playing defense; honestly, Ole Miss just seemed ready to be back on offensive again.
The Dawgs pounded the ball inside to Yante Maten and Derek Ogbeide, who both had their way with the Rebel frontcourt defenders. Maten scored 14 of his 15 points prior to the intermission, but even more importantly, he brought a lot of energy to the UGA team. Yante had several old-fashioned three-point play attempts in the first half in which he could be seen beating his chest in order to pump up his teammates. After a hard-fought loss at Kentucky on Sunday, it was reasonable to believe that this UGA team might struggle to get up and be ready for this homestead.
Ogbeide finished with 14 points and 8 rebounds, and he really seems to be finding his niche within this UGA offense. Derek has developed both a hook and up-and-under move (going to his left of course) that are starting to go down on a consistent basis for the Bulldogs.
Juwan Parker led all UGA scorers with 18 points on a perfect 4 for 4 effort from the beyond the arc. Ole Miss’s defenders made little attempt to rotate when Kennedy had them in zone, which left Parker wide open on the wing for triple after triple. The only time I recall him having a perimeter shot contested was the play mentioned above in which he was fouled on a three-point shot. The senior also snagged 11 boards and logged a double-double, which had to make him feel good considering his former teammate, J.J. Frazier, was courtside to bear witness.
And finally, welcome back Jordan Harris. After an inconsistent start to the season, Harris once again looked the part of a high-profile recruit in last evening’s contest. The sophomore scored 10 of his 12 points before the break, and that total included a pair of three’s. This Georgia Bulldog team desperately needs more consistency in its perimeter shooting, and hopefully Wednesday’s night’s game shows that Harris is up to the task.
This Saturday the Dawgs will host an Alabama team that upset #5 Texas A&M at home only to lose at Vandy on the road the following game. Both teams will be trying to stay above .500 in the conference, and it’s an excellent RPI opportunity for the Dawgs as the Tide are currently at 42, according to NCAA.com.