On Tuesday night, the Georgia Bulldogs (10-10, 1-6) returned to both conference play as well as the offensive woes that have plagued them for much of the SEC slate. That team that shot over 70% from beyond the arc and nearly 67% from the floor last Saturday against Texas? Vanished. The UGA team in Bud Walton arena much more resembled the one that entered this contest near the bottom of the league in offensive output at just 65 ppg in SEC games.
How does this type of metamorphosis occur? My best postulation is that the 98-point outburst was a combination of an insanely hot Georgia team and a somewhat disinterested bunch of Longhorns.
Let me be clear: winning on the road in conference play is difficult. However, the task of earning a victory away from home becomes even more arduous when a team cannot protect the basketball and its star players fail to show themselves in the game’s critical moments, both of which occurred on Tuesday.
UGA got to out to an amazing start in this game as they jumped on the Razorbacks early and built up an 11-2 lead in the first 5 minutes. The Dawgs played with a lot of intensity and were extremely active around the ball and attacking the offensive glass, where Georgia notched 7 of its initial 11 points on second-chance opportunities.
However, eventually the Hogs started putting the ball in the basket themselves, and that enabled Mike Anderson’s team to set up its full court pressure. This past weekend I excused a portion of Georgia’s 26 turnovers due to the style of play that Crean wants this team to play at offensively. On Tuesday, though, the turnovers were caused more by UGA’s inability to deal with the Arkansas pressure than Georgia trying to create scoring opportunities on the offensive end.
The Razorback guards dictated UGA’s offense on Tuesday, and that’s not an effective way for Georgia, or any team, to play basketball. The Dawgs had 10 turnovers at the half, which allowed Arkansas to take a 31-29 advantage into the break. UGA gave the ball away 16 times on the night, and those were costly as they resulted in 16 Razorback points. The trend of Georgia struggling against intense defensive pressure due to its lack of a true point guard continued on Tuesday evening, and expect this course to persist until someone on Tom Crean’s team steps up and starts putting defenders on their heels (note: I don’t expect this to happen this season).
Alright, alright. Enough about the turnovers.
Let’s talk about Georgia’s lack of a true go-to guy. Who on this team can Crean count on to facilitate offense and score when the game is on the line? The answer, quite simply, is no one. For a 6’9″ guy, Hammonds continues to struggle with physicality around the basket, and he seems to prefer playing more of a stretch four. Nic Claxton can throw down some ferocious dunks, off of both misses and cuts; but he doesn’t yet have the ability to square up and take his defender off the dribble or on the block when he receives the ball with his back to the basket.
I mean, this game was tied 52-52 with a little over 6 minutes left. It was most certainly winnable. But while Mike Anderson’s players started to elevate their game down the final stretch, here is what UGA’s three leading scorers produced:
- Rayshaun Hammonds: 0 points, 0-3 FG, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 fouls
- Nic Claxton: 2 points, 1-2 FG, 1 rebound, 1 foul, 1 turnover
- Tyree Crump: 3 points, 1-3 FG, 1 rebound, 1 foul
This is money time, game on the line, and Georgia’s best offensive players mustered a combined 5 points during the final 6:23? That’s just not going to cut it on the road, and it’s a fairly big indicator of why UGA took an L in Fayetteville on Tuesday.
- Turtle Jackson had another solid game as he chipped in double-figure points (11) again.
- Derek Ogbeide continues to provide offense off the bench as he notched 14 points against the Hogs.