The Georgia Bulldogs picked up their 4th win of the season as they remained undefeated with a 63-50 home win over the winless Montana Grizzlies. While the Grizz have yet to check the box in the old win column, Montana was projected by the media to finish 2nd in the Big Sky prior to the start of the year, so it’s possible they could be better than they have shown thus far.
UGA’s length and athleticism defensively proved to be too much for the Grizz on Tuesday night in Stegeman. Georgia forced Montana into 20 turnovers, which the Dawgs converted into 16 points. Tom Crean’s team held the Grizz under 36% from the floor, and they limited Montana to only 3 offensive rebounds and 5 second chance points. The question, though, is can Georgia’s defense remain stout in the face of stiffer competition? The Dawgs get Cincinnati in Athens on December 19th, and this game will give us a much deeper glimpse into what this team is really about.
Georgia created 10 steals in this game, but unfortunately the Dawgs gave the ball away 18 times. Turnovers continue to be an issue for this squad as UGA entered the game coughing the ball up nearly 19 times a contest. Tom Crean wants this team to play fast, and that is going to result in some turnovers, but Georgia has to iron out this sloppiness before conference play because those mistakes will prove to be much more costly against bigger and more talented teams.
While Georgia’s three-point shooting continues to be problematic (22%), this team sure did capitalize in the transition, where the Dawgs scored 24 points. Georgia ended up with 40 points in the paint, and I’d venture to say that nearly three-quarters of those came on the break in the open court. Toumani Camara, who logged a double-double with 15 points and 17 boards, once again benefitted from the up and down tempo of this game; Camara ran the court well and was rewarded with a lot of easy baskets both off the pass and offensive rebounds. The sophomore had one trip down on a break where he crossed up a Grizz defender and finished at the rim, and it was a thing of beauty. If Camara can create like that off the dribble, then I think I speak for everyone when I say that we’d like to see A LOT more of it.
The last thing I will touch on is the fact that Montana outscored the Dawgs 13-10 in the minutes that Sahvir Wheeler wasn’t on the court. Even though Wheeler didn’t have his best game of the year (9 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists), he’s just so much for a defense to deal with when he’s in the game. Whether it’s a make or a miss, the Grizz knew that Georgia’s sophomore point guard would be attacking them full speed at the rim in a matter of seconds. When Wheeler was on the bench, it definitely gave Montana a chance to collectively breath and settle in a bit. It’s going to be critical that Wheeler remain out of foul trouble as this team progresses into league games.