Last place Vandy whips Georgia 81-66

The Georgia Bulldogs (13-10; 4-7) never led once last night against the Vanderbilt Commodores (9-15, 3-8). I could probably just stop the blog post right there because that about covers it. The Dawgs have hit a new low.  UGA just got blown out by the worst team in the SEC. Vanderbilt was 2-8 in league games coming into this contest, and the Dores had an RPI of 122. At this point, Georgia’s NIT hopes are now officially in doubt.

Despite the typical UGA start to a game – not scoring for the first 4 minutes and going 2 for 11 from the floor – the Dawgs managed to get to halftime trailing 39-31, which at the time seemed like a blessing.  Georgia cut the Vandy advantage to as low as 48-47 with 13:20 left in the second half following a jumper by Turtle Jackson, and the Dawgs actually traded baskets with the Dores for a few minutes.

But eventually the UGA offense would go into one of its extended droughts that have become a trademark of Mark Fox coached teams.  Following a bucket by Yante Maten, who finished with a game-high 20 points, that made it 56-53 Vandy with 11:10 remaining, the Dawgs would go nearly 7 minutes before converting another field goal.  With 4:27 left, Derek Ogbeide put one in off the right side of the glass, but by then it was too late as the Dores lead had blossomed to 77-62 during this stretch.  Final score: Vandy 81, UGA 66.  Ouch.

Announcers and NCAA basketball media types will wax eloquently about how great Georgia plays defense.  This is simply a myth. Yes, UGA is allowing the least amount of points in SEC games (65.7).  However, that number is just a byproduct of the molasses-paced tempo at which this teams plays.  Earlier this week, I referenced the Dawgs’ defensive efficiency, which measures the amount of points a team gives up per possession.  This stat is gives a more accurate picture of a team’s defensive performance because it takes tempo (# of possessions) into account.  Georgia’s defensive efficiency is smack dab in the middle of the SEC.  Whether that is good, bad or just ok depends on how we view the overall defensive prowess of the league.

One thing is for sure, though, strong defensive teams don’t allow a team that’s making 8 triples a night to knock down 11 against them.  Surely the Dawgs’ scouting report highlighted Vandy’s proclivity for moving the ball from side to side in order to get open looks from the perimeter, but for whatever reason UGA routinely had defenders closing out with their hands down or not closing out at all.  Juwan Paker and Jackson (Parker in particular) often look like their feet are lodged in mud when attempting to defend on the perimeter.  Vandy guards Riley LaChance and Saben Lee, who averaged a combined 23 points a night, tallied 38 total points against the Dawgs and seemed to be virtually impossible to defend off the dribble.  Good defensive teams do not allow these things to happen.

Back to the offense.  The bottom line is that Georgia has one player that can put the ball in the basket on a consistent basis, and he’s leaving Athens in a little over a month.  Vanderbilt is the worst team in the SEC this year (although they could potentially swap spots with Georgia this weekend), yet I think that Maten is the only player who would start for them.  I’d swap guards with the Dores in a heartbeat if the offer were proffered.  Saben Lee is a freshman who is netting over 10 points a game for Vandy.  He was rated a 4-star recruit by Rivals.  Why don’t Georgia’s 4-stars step in and perform that way?  Rayshaun Hammonds was 0-5 yesterday and couldn’t manage to hit a layup even with the much smaller LaChance guarding him on the block.  Hammonds’s confidence has to be totally shot at this point because he doesn’t resemble anything of the player that he was at the start of the season.  Jordan Harris isn’t with the team right now, but he’s failed to develop into anything more than a role player at this point. Tyree Crump, who started again last night, played only 6 minutes due to a couple of turnovers and failed to score.  None of Georgia’s recent string of 4-stars have come close to performing at Lee’s level.  Why is that?

It doesn’t get any easier from here for Georgia.  Last night’s game was probably the second most winnable one for the remainder of the schedule (LSU at home being the most winnable).  The Dawgs have #8 Auburn in Athens on Saturday, and the Tigers are coming off of a home loss to Texas A&M last night, so they will be pissed off.  Then Georgia has a game at Florida, one at South Carolina, two against the #15 Vols and then one at home against the surging Aggies.  Best case scenario, UGA goes 3-4 over that stretch and finishes the year 16-14.  More than likely, however, the results will be worse as those are some of the best teams in the conference.

Box score:

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12 thoughts on “Last place Vandy whips Georgia 81-66

  1. So, who do we get to replace Fox? What coaches are out there? Any chance we’d spin some of that hallowed reserve fund to fix this basketball rainy day?

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  2. My hat goes off the Hoop Dawg. If I was as passionate about UGA basketball as he most certainly is, I’d get drunk and kick the cat AND the dog after a loss like last night’s. And there have been many of them in the Fox era. Not tough, hard nosed losses, but sloppy, inept, depressing losses where the Dawgs just look lost out there. But Hoop Dawg continues to write thoughtful, insightful pieces.

    As for Fox, I would not be shocked if they gave him another year. With any luck, it will be somewhere else.

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    1. My sentiments on Hoop’s coverage exactly. I now live a couple thousand miles away from the Stegasaurus and have not been present to gauge the mood of the crowd these days, but I am reminded of he guy who used to walk around in the crowd with the “Fire Felton” sign in his hands. I don’t know if there are any efforts of that kind going on these days, but after watching the epic struggles of lauded recruits such as Harris, Crump, and Hammonds, I might be that guy were I in Athens. I have run in to some Nevada basketball fans out here where I live who were not unhappy to see the Dawgs snatch Fox away, citing how boring his teams were, despite their limited success (which was better than Fox has managed in Athens). And indeed, this year’s Nevada team would undoubtedly dispatch this year’s Dawgs team pretty easy on a neutral court. I think that the game has passed Mark Fox by and we have seen this before with Hugh Durham (whom I loved) who never adapted successfully to the advent of the three-point shot. IT IS PAST TIME to roll the dice and get a new coach. Fox has lost this team.

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  3. This program is a sleeping giant with the right coach and a change in the administration’s mindset of actually caring..We are paying this guy 2 mil a yr for this product is an embarrassment to say the least.. He should have been removed last year, but that’s water over the dam. I don’t give a crap how much talent is coming on the horizon – just look at how Fox has ruined Hammond’s development through this year alone.
    Fox and his staff are just unwilling to change because there is no pressure from the top to compete for championships.. It’s been a free ride for 8 plus year’s and Fox knows it… Wake up Greg ….it’s time to earn your paycheck…

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    1. You know, having Greg hire anyone the liquor magnate doesn’t specify (cough…”Kirby”…cough) scares the crap out of me. But we’re at the point where I guess we have to take our chances. This is Groundhog Day, but not in a good way.

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  4. Fox must go. I suppose a new coach might be less successful, but there is no way the team could be more boring and frustrating. Firing Fox is the compassionate thing to do for everyone involved.

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  5. The reason the 4 star athletes never gain any consistency and play like the players they are is because FOX will not let them play. He is always in control of every play. He also takes every thread of confidence any of them has so he has handicapped them before they hit the floor. Someone who doesn’t feel threatened by real players playing real basketball is desperately needed. Basketball is a team sport not one player but 5 players

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  6. I know a lot of people are playing the “devil you know versus the devil you don’t know” game when talking about replacing CMF. To some degree they are right. There is no guarantee that a new coach will come in and save UGA basketball like Tubby did in his all-too-brief stint in Athens. While success in not guaranteed, a new coach certainly would play a more interesting and watchable brand of basketball than whatever this team is playing. At this point, I’ll just take that.

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