Between Sahvir Wheeler and Toumani Camara, I’m not exactly sure who is Vin Diesel and who’s Paul Walker in this analogy, but Georgia’s sophomores have teamed up with director Tom Crean to create a pretty exciting product this year. UGA’s breakneck style of play overwhelmed the Bearcats in the 83-68 blowout, and the Dawgs are sitting at 6-0 for the first time since the 1982-1983 season.
Georgia took its first real test of the season on Saturday and aced it with 20 minutes to spare. Cincy was clearly not prepared for the track meet that they stepped into as the Dawgs pushed the tempo to Mach Speed from the opening tip. Georgia scored 18 (of their 27) points off the break in the first half; the Dawgs forced the Bearcats into 13 turnovers, which UGA converted into 16 (of their 27) points. All this chaos led to a 49-26 halftime advantage for Georgia that had everyone from the chili-making region of the country scratching their heads.
Prior to the start of this game, I thought (foolishly) that 7’1″ center Chris Vogt might pose a problem for undersized Georgia. Cincinnati’s big man was named to the American Athletic Conference’s Second Team by the media. By the time 20 minutes had eclipsed in this contest, I had forgot that Vogt existed. The Cincy big ended the half (and the night) with 0 points on just 1 measly field goal attempt.
The Bulldogs are finally starting to produce the coveted deflections that Tom Crean has spoken so eloquently of these past several years. Georgia turned the Bearcats over a whopping 24 times on Saturday, and the Dawgs are now 13th in the nation in opponent turnovers (19). UGA’s ability to occupy the passing lanes is frustrating opposing offenses and resulting in a lot of extra possessions for Tom Crean’s team (UGA is 19th in the nation in possessions per game).
This UGA team is a pesky bunch that is extremely active on the defensive side of the ball. The Dawgs limited Cincy to just 17% from beyond the arc, a place that Georgia has defended well this year; UGA is holding opponents to under 23% from the perimeter on the season.
Georgia sophomore Sahvir Wheeler did not turn in his best performance of the season. Wheeler pressed too much and try to force up some shots around the rim that just shouldn’t have been taken. The Georgia point guard made only 4 of 14 from the floor and turned the ball over 6 times.
While Wheeler struggled, his teammates Toumani Camara, Justin Kier and Tye Fagan flourished. Camara logged another double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and his ability to get up and down the court and score points in the transition makes this UGA team so dynamic. Camara’s jump from year one to year two is so similar to Travis Leslie it’s downright eerie. Leslie averaged 6 ppg and 4 rpg his freshman year and nearly 15ppg and 7rpg his sophomore campaign; Camara averaged 6.6 ppg and 4 rpg last year, and he’s currently netting over 15 ppg and snagging over 8 rpg. Both players seemingly needed a season to hone in their freakish athleticism; the only difference is that Toumani is 6’8″, a nice little bonus for Coach Crean.
Kier and Fagan finished the game with 18 and 17 points, respectively. Each player scored numerous buckets at the rim, and Kier flashed the ability to create offense off the dribble, which is something we haven’t seen too much of from him up to this point.
ESPN announcer Jimmy Dykes praised Georgia’s brand of basketball, but the announcer insinuated that UGA would have to prove itself in the SEC when teams like Tennessee lock them up defensively and force them into a half court game. In the words of Samuel Jackson’s character from “Pulp Fiction”, please allow me to retort. The #12 Vols trailed this Bearcat team 53-51 with 6:14 left in the game before Tennessee was finally able to pull away for the 65-56 home win. If Georgia can continue to disrupt opposing offenses with deflections and limit three-point opportunities, the Dawgs will be able to play at any pace they want.
Don’t believe me? Ask this Jon Rothstein.