Auburn played yesterday without Bryce Brown, the team’s leading scorer and the potential SEC Player of the Year candidate. Based upon the relative ease in which the Tigers dispatched the Dawgs in Stegeman, he didn’t appeared to be missed. It was painfully obvious how much more talented Bruce Pearl’s team is than Mark Fox’s. Auburn has multiple players that can hit three-pointers while Georgia might have one. The Tigers have 4 or 5 guys that can create offense off the dribble; do the Dawgs have anyone with that skill set?
I’m venturing that the UGA coaching staff felt that with Brown out the Dawgs could man up on the Tigers in an effort to contest shots on the perimeter. Unfortunately, the Georgia guards couldn’t stay in front of the Auburn guards as the Tigers got to the rim whenever they wanted. The smaller Tigers scored 30 points in the paint on the afternoon to Georgia’s 26.
In the second half, Georgia went to a zone because they couldn’t defend Pearl’s team in man. The problem, though, was that the Dawgs lost interest in guarding the arc. Auburn hit 6 of its 11 triples after the break, and most of them were completely uncontested. The Tigers came into Athens averaging 10.5 three-pointers a night in SEC play, with Brown contributing 4 a game. The fact that Georgia allowed Auburn to best their conference average without the services of their most dangerous shooter is a true testament to the lack of commitment that the Dawgs showed in defending the perimeter.
Several of the Auburn three’s came off of offensive rebounds during a particularly devastating stretch of play for the Dawgs. The Tigers’ Mustapha Heron put his stamp on the game with a thunderous one-handed dunk that was also the result of an offensive board. Heron’s bucket sent UGA fans to the exits as it made it 72-56 with 3:24 remaining. The Tigers got 15 of their 78 points off of second chances. From where I was sitting, it looked like the home team gave up in the second half.
Offense looks real simple when the point guard can pass the ball to the wing, and then that wing can blow by his man and finish at the bucket. That’s not really the Georgia way. UGA’s possessions have truly become adventures that have me cringing for the entire 30 seconds. Nothing looks easy. Turtle dribbled the ball out of bounds twice attempting to perform a simple crossover dribble. Derek Ogbeide threw one pass directly into the stands from the top of the key. Tyree Crump had multiple passes taken right from his hands as he couldn’t get the ball around the Auburn defender. From the start of the game, Bruce Pearl implored his backcourt to pick up and pressure UGA’s guards as soon as the ball crossed half court. If Georgia had a player like Heron or Jared Harper, a team couldn’t defend them in this manner because those guys would just go around the defender and then the entire defense would be at a disadvantage (basically what happened to UGA all afternoon). But alas, this Bulldog team is lacking in dribble-drivers and its the reason why they struggle to muster 60 points a game.
Georgia had a couple possessions where they quickly pushed the ball up the court and got it inside to Yante Maten. Those were nice moments. Sadly, there were only a few of them. The Dawgs had 13 turnovers that led to 25 Tiger points. UGA shot 28% from beyond the arc.
At this point, Georgia should just start Crump, Juwan Parker, Maten, Nicolas Claxton and Rayshaun Hammonds, who had become sort of the forgotten man, was reinserted into the starting five and he played admirably, scoring 14 points. Those are the players with the most talent and potential, and Fox mind as well get the young fellas the experience now in the hopes that it benefits them more next season. This season is a wash. Anyone still counting quality wins and thinking the Dawgs might go on a run to make a push for the NCAA tournament is living in fantasy land. At 13-11, Georgia’s probably going to struggle to even be considered for the NIT. This was supposed to be Mark Fox’s deepest team yet (according to him). How have things unraveled so much from the team’s 11-3 start?
When was the last time Auburn basketball swept Georgia in a season? Glad you asked…
Auburn completed a season sweep of Georgia for the first time since the 1985-86 season
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 10, 2018