Dawgs fight to the bitter end in 2nd one-point loss in a week

Despite the fact that the Georgia Bulldogs (10-17, 1-13) have now dropped 12 straight SEC games, I’m convinced that they have to be one of the most entertaining teams stuck in a double-digit losing streak in the history of college basketball. This team has every reason to throw in the towel, yet, even though they are routinely down by 10 points or more, the Dawgs refuse.

The first time UGA could have quit was…

After opening up an 18-15 lead nearly 8 minutes into this contest, Georgia’s 2-3 zone rotations slowed, and Ole Miss began to find a rhythm from the perimeter, where they canned 6 triples in the final 10 minutes before the break. UGA’s offense, which appeared overwhelmed by the Ole Miss half court trap, coughed the ball up 7 times (12 overall in the first half) during this stretch, which helped to open up the Rebels’ transition offense. All of this ugliness resulted in a 39-29 advantage for Kermit Davis’s team at the break as the Dawgs once again fell apart at the close of the first half, which has become a staple of this team.

Instead, this happened…

Tom Crean coached them up at halftime, and Georgia reentered the court a team transformed. The Dawgs figured out the Rebels’ 1-3-1 trap as they started to drive the ball into the soft spots of the zone. UGA’s defense was forcing turnovers themselves as they caused Mississippi to give it away 5 times in the initial 5 minutes of the second half. With 15:07 left, Turtle Jackson buried a three-pointer that capped off a 17-4 Georgia run that saw the Dawgs take a 46-43 advantage.

The second time the Dawgs could have quit was…

After going back and forth for nearly 6 minutes, Mississippi’s star guard, Breein Tyree, who is netting nearly 19 a night in SEC play, took over the game. Tyree, who the Dawgs had held relatively in check for most of the afternoon, suddenly became unguardable. The junior scored 12 of his team’s next 14 points on a barrage of drives and triples, and following his three-pointer with 4:04 left, his Rebels held a commanding 67-60 lead.

Personally, at this point, I thought the game was over. This 12-4 run by Ole Miss seemed insurmountable considering the Dawgs had already overcome one large deficit. I was fully ready to watch the Rebels salt the remainder of this contest away.

But then Jordan Harris happened…

If the previously mentioned 6-plus minutes of gametime were the “Breein Tyree Show”, then the final segment of this game should be known as “The Jordan Harris Hour”. The junior from Iron City, Georgia single-handedly brought the Dawgs back into this one in this game’s final moments. Harris contributed 7 points, 2 rebounds and a steal in the last 4 minutes of play, and he put his team in a position to win in the closing seconds (he finished with 15 points on the afternoon).

About that last play

I know Tyree Crump hit the triple that tied the game against Missy State earlier in the week, but he probably wasn’t positioned to repeat that feat on the Dawgs’ final possession Saturday. Crump, who missed the last-second attempt against the Rebels, had to take the shot from well beyond the arc.

I realize that Claxton was surrounded by Ole Miss defenders, but look who is wide-open under the basket – none other than the star of “The Jordan Harris Hour”, Jordan Harris.

I’m sure that Claxton will want that pass back when he watches the film.

Final thoughts

Just like in the losses to LSU and Missy State, the Dawgs earned another moral victory on Saturday in the 72-71 loss to Mississippi. No one really likes moral victories, but for some reason with THIS team THIS season they don’t feel THAT bad.

After a lackluster offensive performance in this contest’s first 20 minutes of play, Georgia came out of the intermission and canned over 65% of its shots from the floor. The perimeter defense was frustrating as slow defensive rotations and UGA defenders going under screens allowed Ole Miss to hit 12 triples (4 more than their SEC average) on a 43% shooting night from the arc. However, defensive lapses have been a hallmark of this squad this season, and maybe I’m just growing numb to them.

Bottom line: Georgia had an opportunity to steal a win on the road against what is most likely going to be an NCAA tournament team, and they came up 1 point short for the second time in a week.

The Dawgs are losing games, but they haven’t lost an ounce of fight, which is certainly encouraging for what the future could hold in the Tom Crean era.

5 thoughts on “Dawgs fight to the bitter end in 2nd one-point loss in a week

  1. It seems to me that I have said this a couple of times this season, but it should be highly apparent that Jordan Harris should be on the floor much of the time for this team. He is perhaps the best pure athlete on this squad and is rapidly gaining the confidence to step up and take a more assertive role. I was wondering if the ball went to Clax on the final play whether he would look to the hot hand (Harris) if he was doubled. And the picture posted by Hoop suggests that he should have. Crump is a good option if he is wide open and has his feet set, but his shooting percentage under other circumstances is abysmal. I know you can’t be too choosy with the clock expiring, but a flip to Harris results in a lay-up and a win.
    By now Hoop must feel that he sounds like a broken record writing up all these losses, but I appreciate his efforts, insights, and opinions. Like Hoop, I am encouraged by the fight this team has shown since the infamous Crean quote that perhaps shouldn’t have retained all the players he inherited. In terms of building a competitive roster in the immediate years ahead, I think that Crean was right on. But the way that this very flawed roster has played since the “quote” leads me to believe that it was perhaps the jab that these players needed to take to prove themselves. We have a darn good class committed for next year and enough of a returning nucleus to cause some problems next year. Meanwhile, I am grateful that the guys in this roster have continued to compete rather than going in the tank.


    1. Well said all around. Jordan Harris plays with fire and no fear. He does need to be out there as much as possible.

      I hate “moral victories” but I do love that the Dawgs are still fighting hard (or maybe even harder) now. They had some bad luck this past week but hopefully they can steal one or two before the tournament and then surprise somebody.

      And to the Crean quote, obviously he shouldn’t have said it, but I agree with you, it seems like the team has played harder since then. I think the players are finally getting into Crean’s system and with the new guys next year, they should be much better. They are certainly more fun to watch.


  2. If the SEC tournament started today, the Dawgs would get Missouri first, and then the winner would get SC. The winner of that game would get Ole Miss. All of those would be winnable games, IMO.


      1. Yep, that’s pretty optimistic, but on the other hand, I can see this team getting on a mini-run if they win a game in convincing manner. They have some good athletes and with some confidence, they could win a few. I hope it happens.


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