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After hot start, UGA fizzles in 80-64 home loss to Ole Miss

I’m almost at the point where I feel like I could just hit copy/paste from the last game post, and it would pretty much cover everything that we witnessed in the latest contest. The Georgia Bulldogs (10-13, 1-9) got manhandled by Mississippi 80-64 on Saturday in Athens, and the usual culprits – ball security and poor defense – were responsible again for UGA’s demise.

The best part of this game by far was the initial 5 minutes of play in which UGA opened up an 18-8 lead while making 6 of their first 8 shots. Rayshaun Hammonds played particularly well during this stretch as he knocked down a pair of triples and scored a total of 8 points.

The next 14 minutes of play Tom Crean witnessed the wheels come off in the form of 13 turnovers by his squad. One especially sloppy span of offense occurred during consecutive possessions by Teshaun Hightower:

  1. Hightower brought the ball across half court. Amanze Ngumezi came to the perimeter to set a high ball screen, but Hightower threw him a lob pass that soared into an Ole Miss defender’s hands.
  2. Next possession, Hightower gave fans a repeat of play #1.
  3. Next possession, Hightower dribble the ball directly to the wing and attempted to hand off the basketball to a UGA guard, but instead the ball was fumbled out of bounds.

The Dawgs are now turning the ball over on 22% of their possessions, which makes them 327 in the nation in that category.

Breein Tyree, who led all scorers with 31 points, put the Rebels up 25-22 when he hit a three-pointer with a little less than 10 minutes left in the first half, which capped off a 17-4 Ole Miss run. The Georgia offense during this abysmal 14-minute stretch managed just 10 points, and by the time Tyree Crump hit a triple with 1:36 left before the break, the Dawgs were trailing 41-31.

Georgia committed an eye-opening 16 first half turnovers (20 overall), which led to 16 points for Mississippi prior to the intermission. Georgia actually shot nearly 44% from the floor and matched the Rebels’ 7 three-pointers, but the 11 extra possessions were too much to overcome, and they resulted in a 45-33 halftime lead for the Rebels.

The Georgia defense, which is ranked last in the SEC in points allowed, continued to struggle with transition defense and weak side help rotations. The Dawgs’ defenders looked lost when the Rebels pushed the pace, which resulted in a plethora of open looks from beyond the arc; Ole Miss ended up with 9 three-pointers on the afternoon, one more than their SEC average. UGA continues to make teams look really good from the perimeter.

Georgia defenders, Jordan Harris aside, still refuse to provide help defense when opponents attack the rim. Much like in previous games this season, this contest featured multiple plays in which an Ole Miss guard drove the ball from outside the arc all the way to the rim, uncontested. The Rebels outscored Georgia in the paint 28-18, and a big reason for that was that the Dawgs make it super easy for opponents to attack the basket.

Maybe the most disappointing of all of UGA’s defensive shortcomings this afternoon was the Dawgs’ inability to protect the defensive glass. Georgia yielded 13 offensive rebounds to Mississippi, and the Rebels converted those into 21 second chance points (UGA had just 5).

Tom Crean’s postgame comment

The Athletic’s Seth Emerson provided this nugget that Crean gave to reporters after the game via Emerson’s Twitter feed:

Nothing like throwing your players under the bus in the midst of an 8-game SEC losing streak. This statement by Crean is confounding in so many ways. First, he took over the team in the spring; save a few super late signees, that probably weren’t D1 material, who did he envision might have been available to sign? Did he not watch film of this team last year and think to himself, “Ok, without Yante Maten, this group isn’t incredibly talented”? His expectations for this season were obviously not in line with talent level on his roster. Finally, how does he see this season finishing out after he makes such a negative public statement about the players on his roster?

Rayshaun Hammonds personal foul tracker

Hammonds fouled out of today’s game, and he now has 76 PFs on the season. The sophomore should easily surpass last season’s total of 81, quite possibly by next weekend. After netting 8 quick points in the first 5 minutes of this game, Hammonds scored just 2 more the rest of the way. The Dawgs’ leading scorer seems unaware of his importance to this team as he continues to commit fouls at a torrid pace.

Preseason predictions

Prior to the start of the season, Ole Miss was projected to finish last in the conference standings, just a slot behind Georgia. One of these teams has wildly exceeded expectations and is currently in position to make the NCAA tournament, and the other is UGA.

Box score:

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