A few observations from Georgia’s close loss at LSU

The Georgia Bulldogs (7-2, 0-2) are no strangers to moral victories, which is essentially what the Dawgs got in Baton Rouge on Wednesday night in their 94-92 overtime loss to the LSU Tigers. UGA dropped its first SEC road game of the season in dramatic fashion in a game that Georgia led 80-74 with less than two minutes to go in regulation.

Typically when teams are leading down stretch of games they tend to try to run clock and reduce the number of possessions. This strategy may have backfired on Georgia, however, as playing half court basketball is just not a strength for this team. The Dawgs last two possessions of regulation resulted in a turnover and a miss on a rushed shot from P.J. Horne with the shot clock expiring. I almost wonder if this UGA team should buck the tradition of milking clock and just play fast the whole game, regardless of the situation.

Here are a few other observations:

The Tigers played defense when they needed to down the stretch of this contest

LSU, who entered this game as the 9th best defense in the SEC at 68 points a night, appeared disinterested in playing defense for much of this contest. The Tigers have the best three-point defense in the SEC (27%), yet they allowed the Dawgs, who have been connecting on just 30% from beyond the arc this season, to knock down 12 triples (9 of which came from Justin Kier and Horne).

Will Wade’s team ratcheted up the defense when it needed to, though. Georgia had all the momentum with 9:07 left after Justin Kier finished at the rim to give his team a 68-58 advantage. Unfortunately, the bigger, more athletic Tigers eventually decided to tighten things up, and that enabled them to go on a 13-2 run that saw LSU take a 71-70 lead two minutes later after a pair of free throws from Cameron Thomas. It was pretty obvious that this talented Tiger team can put the clamps down pretty quickly when they feel pressed.

Georgia’s offense found itself again

The Dawgs were held to 73 points and kept in relative check last week against Missy State, however, this was not the case in Baton Rouge. Georgia had great energy from the start and looked fast and crisp with the ball. By halftime, Georgia had connected on 50% from the floor and 47% from beyond the arc. UGA had 11 turnovers, but they also had 11 assists.

Sahvir Wheeler, who had been in a bit of a mini-slump, was far more effective on Wednesday. Wheeler scored 21 points to go along with 9 assists. He kept pushing the ball into the teeth of the Tiger defense and finding open teammates on kickouts. The sophomore looked the part of a point guard facilitating offense and getting his teammates involved.

Graduate transfers Kier and Horne were the prime benefactors of Wheeler’s creativity as they finished with 25 and 11, respectively. These two seniors have developed into legitimate threats from the perimeter, which definitely opens things up a bit for the Dawgs in the half court set.

UGA’s help defense must improve

LSU had numerous drives to the basket that were essentially uncontested. Too many times an LSU guard got past the UGA backcourt defender only to find no one from Georgia’s frontcourt their to meet them. Considering that the Dawgs will be undersized in nearly every conference game, it seems as if swarming to the basketball and providing weak side help would have to be tenets for this bunch on defense.

A couple of stats that jumped out at me:

  • Cameron Thomas, who Georgia limited to 5 of 17 from the floor, still ended up with 26 points thanks to a 15 of 16 effort from the FT line
  • LSU had 19 steals
  • Georgia had 28 fast break points to LSU’s 3
  • UGA won the battle of the boards 43-40
  • Justin Kier was definitely not out of bounds near the end of OT, and UGA should have been given the ball with a chance to tie

5 thoughts on “A few observations from Georgia’s close loss at LSU

  1. Okay, I’m a casual basketball fan but a huge Dawg fan, so help me out. Why wasn’t that call at the end reviewed? Is that not normal procedure? They review a call in the middle of the first half that makes little difference, yet that call could have won the game for us.

    Hated to lose that game last night. I think the team plays an exciting brand of ball and I really like how we spread the points around. But we need to close out some of these SEC games and get some wins to build momentum.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I’m not sure why Crean didn’t throw a fit at this call… He should’ve been doing summersaults on the court until they reviewed it. Just like in football, you hope to never be in a situation where you rely on the refs to win a game.

      I was at UGA-LSU game BB game in Baton Rouge last year… We were totally blown out and gave up right after half time. This years game was very much a moral victory because they lost, but I think we could still go .500 in the conference.

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    2. I thought they reviewed everything at the end of the game if it’s close. Also, I kind of thought Crean should have used a timeout since he had them, just to give the refs a chance to think it over more.

      I like watching this team play, too. The tempo is a breath of fresh air from the Mark Fox days.

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  2. Disappointing that we weren’t able to pull it out, especially after Wheeler hit the 3 to put us up 6 with 2 minutes to go. Of course, they came right back down the court and made a wide open 3 20 seconds later. It’s hard to buy in to the theory that Cretan is building something when you’re primarily relying on a group of Senior grad transfers along with Wheeler and Camara to make you a middle of the pack (at best) SEC team.

    There is no question that Fox was a disaster and left Crean with nothing. People have shown up because Crean’s teams at least play an entertaining brand of basketball and our fans appreciate that more than ever after watching boring Fox teams only win when we could drag the other team down to our level. Fox was left with a more talented roster than he ever built on his own at UGA and the first half of his tenure was a very down time for the SEC. We finished 3rd in the conference one year and went to the NIT! Once the SEC started getting serious about hoops again, the new coaches around the league easily ran circles around Fox. 9 seasons and $20 mil + without a single NCAA tourney win yet Fox lands another major college gig at Cal. The Bears are currently 0-6 in league play and the closest margin of defeat has been 8 points. Anyway, despite the misfortune of being Fox’s successor, Crean can’t use that excuse forever. He needs to get us to the Dance in the next couple of years and, based on the roster composition now, I don’t know if he’ll be able to do that.

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    1. Fox was an unmitigated disaster. I’m surprised that he landed a power 5 job right out of the gate.

      I’m still a Crean fan and supporter. I understand your frustration, but we literally have no basketball pedigree outside of some fluke years. I think we might sneak into the NIT this year and the tourney next year. Years 3 and 4 of the Wheeler-Camara connection will be key.

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