Just how good is Georgia’s defense?

Georgia holds teams to the second-lowest point total (66) per game in the SEC, including both conference and non-conference games, second only to Mississippi State (65.3).  In league play, UGA is limiting teams to 65.5 points a night, which is the lowest total of any SEC team.

But is Georgia’s defense really the best in the conference?

Consider the following:

Defensive efficiency is calculated by taking the number of points a team allows and dividing it by the number of opponent possessions (then multiplying that number by 100 to show the expected result over 100 possessions).  Simply looking at just the total number of points that a team yields doesn’t give the most accurate picture of how well that team is stopping its opposition from scoring.  Defensive efficiency takes into account the tempo at which the team plays games at because it considers the total number of possessions into the equation.  According to kenpom.com (Ken Pomeroy, statistical guru), UGA’s adjusted defensive efficiency is 95.7, which is very good (26th in the nation).  However, there are 6 SEC teams with a better adjusted defensive efficiency than Georgia: Auburn, Kentucky, Mississippi St., Alabama, Tennessee and Texas A&M.  Auburn is giving up 72.6 ppg, which is 10th in the conference, but the Tigers are the highest scoring team at 86 ppg.  The high amount of points that Auburn is giving up is simply a consequence of the Tigers’ up-tempo style of play.

The Bulldogs are averaging only 68.5 possessions per contest.  There are 315 college basketball teams that possess the ball more than UGA.  Part of that is due to Georgia’s turnover margin (-3.4), which is the worst among SEC teams.  But a larger factor into the number of UGA possessions is simply that the Dawgs are playing games at a snail’s pace. Unfortunately, I could not find any sites that calculate shot clock usage because I know that number is out there and it would vindicate my argument.  If anyone’s watched a Georgia game this season, they’ve witnessed a team that routinely goes deep into the shot clock before getting an attempt off (or not taking a shot at all).  For all you gamblers out there, UGA’s SEC games have only gone over the over-under once this season (disclosure: I’m not giving out gambling advice).

I do think that Mark Fox’s team plays pretty solid defense, especially in the paint.  But they are not the best defensive team in the SEC.  The Dawgs are somewhere in the middle, and considering that their offensive efficiency is 11th in the conference, that’s just not good enough to get the results that UGA fans are interested in: wins.