Two-thirds of Georgia’s (10-6, 3-6) conference wins this season have come against Ole Miss, which is why I want the SEC to rearrange the remainder of each team’s schedule and let these two face off once a week until early March. For UGA, this would present a realistic opportunity to rack up more SEC wins than last year (5), and for Kermit Davis and the Rebels, it would be a chance to improve against a team that they haven’t quite figured out yet.
I realize I’m speaking in fantasy, but this matchup is just so perfect for this year’s edition of Georgia basketball. From a physical standpoint, Ole Miss’s bigs couldn’t be more suitable opponents for the Dawgs as they are both 6’8″. Not 6’10” or 6’11”; Romello White and Robert Clark are both the same size as the Georgia bigs. It’s kismet.
For whatever reason, the Bulldogs are living their best lives offensively when they take on this Rebel squad. The Dawgs have shot over 55% from the floor and hit more than 50% of their three-point attempts in each contest. Those numbers are inconsistent with the 43% FG% and 32% 3PT% that UGA had been posting in SEC play. When UGA has squared off with UM this year, its offense hasn’t resembled itself in the least. Yesterday, just like two weeks ago, the Dawgs moved the ball to the open spots on the floor and finished, whether it be from beyond the arc or around the rim. All of this is even more confounding considering that the Rebels entered Saturday’s game with the second-best scoring defense (67.2 ppg) in league play.
I’m sure Tye Fagan would be on board with this idea of playing Ole Miss on a weekly basis. Fagan, who led UGA with 13 points on Saturday, has scored in double-figures just 3 times in league games this season, and two of those times came against Mississippi. The junior guard has netted a total of 32 points in those matchups with a shooting percentage just above 83%.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Dawgs held the Rebels to just 35% from the floor and and 15% from the perimeter. However, I’m not sure how much of that is a credit to Georgia or just Ole Miss’s general issues that revolve around putting the ball in the basket. Kermit Davis’s team entered this contest as the second-lowest scoring team in league play (64.8 ppg) and the worst shooting team from beyond the arc (26.8%). Ole Miss has been sort of anemic when the ball’s been in their hands this season, and yesterday was no different.
The only reason this game was close at the half (37-34, UGA) and throughout was because the Dawgs couldn’t protect the glass. The Rebels hauled down an astounding 23 offensive boards that led to 17 second chance points, which compensated some for their poor offensive execution. Georgia is now yielding nearly 16 offensive rebounds a night to the opposition, which is why they have the worst defensive rebounding percentage in the league at under 58%.
In theory, the defense should have an advantage in securing missed shots since they have more players closer to the basket; UGA, though, is trending on the wrong side of that theory and misses have become almost a 50/50 ball for either team. Following yesterday’s win, Georgia is now 342nd in the nation in opponent effective possession ratio (OEPR) over its past three games. OEPR is a measure of how many scoring chances a team let’s its opponents get out of their possessions; turnovers are good and offensive rebounds are bad. Let’s just say, when team’s have gone up against the Dawgs as of late, they’ve gotten plenty of scoring chances.
But I’m starting to digress from my original point. Sure, UGA had its share of hiccups yesterday defensively, largely due to the Dawgs’ inability to board; but the point is against Ole Miss those things don’t matter quite as much. Georgia still won by 10 points and they now own the tie-breaker over the Rebels for sole rights to 11th place in the conference standings. Imagine where UGA would end up if these two squads saw each other again next Saturday? And again the next. And the next…