The Georgia Bulldogs (9-6, 2-6) beat Kentucky a week ago, which ended a 14-game losing streak to the Wildcats. Many thought (myself included) that such a win could help ignite this team and that they might use that victory as a stepping stone to build upon. Unfortunately, the Dawgs have gone only backwards since P.J. Horne’s buzzer beater. After losing to Florida over the weekend, Georgia traveled to Columbia and got drubbed 83-59 in what was easily this team’s worst performance in SEC play.
The fact that Georgia yielded 23 offensive rebounds that led to 23 second-chance points for South Carolina is disappointing for Tom Crean’s team, but it should hardly be surprising. Georgia entered this contest with the worst defensive rebounding percentage (62) in SEC play. The Dawgs have been allowing opponents to snag nearly 14 offensive boards a night in league games. These are the consequences when you have a roster with no players taller than 6’8″. UGA regularly plays three-guards on the court together with some combination of Sahvir Wheeler, Justin Kier, Tye Fagan and K.D. Johnson; the Dawgs are a small team that plays small. Georgia is built to give up points in the paint, and South Carolina obliged as they put up 44 of them.
What was more shocking to me was how stymied UGA looked against SC’s zone defense that Frank Martin allegedly installed just three days ago. Despite what was on display in Columbia on Wednesday evening, Georgia had been pretty solid on the offensive end in conference play. Prior to this debacle, UGA was 6th in scoring (76.6), 2nd in field goal percentage (45.7) and 4th in 3PT% (35) in SEC games. However, the triples were not falling for Tom Crean’s team against the Cocks, but that didn’t stop them from taking them; Georgia shot an astounding 4 of 26 from beyond the arc. P.J. Horne missed all 7 of his triple attempts, and he’s now a cool 0 for 13 over his past two games. Someone might need to think about changing his green light to yellow, at least for a game.
Schematically, UGA took a fairly mundane approach to attacking the Gamecock zone. For more times than I can remember, Georgia ran one or two bigs up high to screen for the point guard, and that was about the extent of the action on offense. Tom Crean’s offense against the zone has traditionally had guys filling those soft spots along the baseline so that when penetration occurs Georgia has players ready to receive the ball near the rim. Tonight, that kind of movement just wasn’t happening. Instead, the Dawgs shot just 32% from the floor and turned the ball over 20 times en route to their lowest offensive output in a league game this year.
One final thought: South Carolina has established complete dominance over Georgia’s basketball team. The Cocks have now won 9 straight over the Dawgs, and barring some unexpected miracle in Athens later in the season, Georgia is in jeopardy of being swept by Frank Martin’s team for the 5th consecutive year. How did things get this way? Georgia has been ranked higher than South Carolina in recruiting rankings the past 3 seasons, yet SC’s roster appears so much more talented. Be honest: who on UGA would start for the 2-3 Gamecocks? I mean, their leading scorer, Keyshawn Bryant (19 points against Georgia) doesn’t even start!?!?