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.
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.
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.