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.
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?
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.
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.