South Carolina too physical for Georgia (again)

Featured

Become a Georgia basketball fan at your own risk. That’s probably the single-best piece of advice that I could impart upon anyone considering entering the world of fandom for this program.

Because being a fan of the basketball Dawgs means that you have to endure rollercoaster-like conditions. How else does one explain how Georgia, who recently cruised past SEC power LSU, just dropped their 10th straight game to Frank Martin’s team?

Let’s be perfectly clear: this year’s South Carolina team is BAD. They coasted into Athens on nothing but the fumes of a 6-game losing streak in which they were yielding 82 points a contest, yet they held this UGA team to just 70 on Saturday, which is below Georgia’s season average (76.7). This South Carolina squad is not the defensive juggernaut they made themselves out to be this afternoon. They came into this one 12th in scoring defense and 11th in field goal percentage defense, and still their matchup zone managed to give Georgia fits. The Gamecocks have Jedi mind control over the Dawgs, plain and simple. That’s the only explanation that I can muster as to why a team with 4 SEC wins (half of them coming against Georgia) has now beaten Tom Crean’s bunch by 20+ points in both meetings this season.

Georgia’s defense, which had been improving as of late, was a no-show today. UGA hadn’t given up over 90 points since the 115-point effort by Alabama; not surprisingly, the Dawgs won 2 of 3 since that fiasco. After today, though, Georgia has now given up 90+ points 6 times in league play, and they’ve been on the losing end of all of those contests. South Carolina’s 91 points today were a season-best for this team. The Dawgs were slow to close out on the perimeter, something has plagued this UGA team, and the Cocks made them pay as they connected on 10 triples. SC hit almost 44% from beyond the arc, which is 13 percentage points higher than their SEC average. If anyone can help a team reach its offensive potential its Georgia.

Frank Martin’s guards completely overpowered Georgia as 4 players from the Carolina backcourt finished the game in double-figures. Sophomore guard Jermaine Couisinard led all scorers with 23 points as he bested his previous SEC-high this year of 18 points, which also came against Georgia. Trae Hannibal notched 15 points to tie his season-high in conference play; this was just his 4th time this year in which he eclipsed 10 points. Watching the game, the SC guards appeared so much more physical than the Dawgs, and they really seemed to impose their will on the UGA defense. It’s quite mind boggling as to how a team that has been as pedestrian as South Carolina has this year can make the talent gap between the Cocks and Dawgs appear insurmountable for Tom Crean’s team.

Georgia’s offense was as disappointing as its defense. The Dawgs shot just 36% from the floor and gave the ball away 19 times. Sahvir Wheeler, who was coming off the first triple-double in school history, followed up his best game of the season with arguably his worst. The sophomore couldn’t facilitate offense in the half court as he ended up with only 7 points on a 2 of 13 shooting performance (including 0 for 4 from beyond the arc). Probably the most glaring stat of the afternoon for Wheeler though were his 7 turnovers as he couldn’t create space between himself and the SC backcourt.

Despite all of Georgia’s faults, the Dawgs were within striking distance in this game with a little over 14 minutes remaining. UGA overcame a 41-29 halftime deficit to trim the Carolina lead to 48-44 after an old-fashioned three-point play by Andrew Garcia. However, the next stretch of play that transpired was just brutal for Georgia, and ultimately sealed the fate of this game. Over next 6 minutes, UGA went just 1 of 7 from the floor and committed 4 turnovers, and that ineffectiveness allowed the Gamecocks to build up a 66-48 advantage. Game. Set. Match.

Georgia’s consolation prize for this drubbing is that they get a week to lick their wounds and figure out how on earth they are going to slow down Alabama next Saturday. Holding the Tide under 100 points would certainly be a good start if the Dawgs want to keep their 6-seed in tact for the NIT.

Georgia manhandles LSU in Athens

FeaturedPhoto credit to wafb.com

The Georgia Bulldogs (14-9, 7-9) cruised by LSU 91-78 on Tuesday night in Athens. This Tiger team entered this contest on a three-game winning streak and tied for 2nd in the SEC standings. The Dawgs opened up a double-digit lead with over 2 minutes left in the first half in a game that Georgia led for nearly 94% of the time. The closest Will Wade’s team got to UGA in the second half was 14 points in what was just a dominant performance by UGA.

Let’s just get the most obvious point out of the way first, and that is that Sahvir Wheeler is absolutely living his best life. The sophomore followed up his career-high 27-point effort against Florida with the first triple-double in UGA basketball history (14 points, 11 boards, 13 assists). Lately, Wheeler has been doing it all. However, he has been most notably hitting his stride on the break, where he is letting his teammates get set and finding them in the open spots in the transition offense. Wheeler has improved so much this season in that context as he’s realized that he doesn’t have to take everything to the rim as hard as he possibly can.

The Dawgs were clicking on all cylinders this evening as they hit over 46% from the floor and were just a bucket shy of having 3 guys finish with over 20 points; Toumani Camara had 22, KD Johnson had 21 and Tye Fagan ended up with 18. This triumvirate along with Wheeler completely shredded an uninspired LSU defense.

The Tigers’ defense was nothing short of atrocious. Honestly, they look like 5 guys who just met and got next in a pick-up game and then proceed to play zone because nobody wants to or knows how to play man. Will Wade’s team possesses all the key attributes of that type of defense: low effort, poor rotations, and no communication. I recognize that this has been an issue for the Tigers all season as they entered this one ranked 10th in the SEC in scoring defense, but when you see how little intensity they play with firsthand it’s eye-opening. The Dawgs ended the first half on a 21-6 run over the final 5 minutes and had hung 45 on the Tigers heading into the intermission.

Neither team shot the ball particularly well at the start of the game, but the difference was that Georgia stuck with its defensive gameplan throughout. After 10 minutes of play, Georgia had made only 40% of its shots and LSU just 31%. The Dawgs’ offense obviously picked things up (see paragraphs 2 and 3). However, it was UGA’s defense that appeared to frustrate the Tigers. Tom Crean’s team did an excellent job of staying in front of LSU’s ballhandlers, and the Tigers ended up settling for a lot of outside shots. This strategy didn’t pan out well for Wade’s bunch as they made only 40% from the floor and just 26% from beyond the arc. This was a solid defensive performance by the Dawgs against a team that came into this game with the second-best scoring offense in the SEC (81 ppg) as well as the second-best shooting percentage from the field (46%).

With 7 league wins and counting, Tom Crean has this program trending in the right direction. His first season, UGA won just 2 SEC games, and last year they managed 5. There’s no reason to think that next year’s team won’t have a legitimate shot at the NCAA tournament.

That being said, Georgia just won its 3rd Quadrant 1 game of the year, and the Dawgs are once again in that territory where the NCAA tournament bubble is still a far-off place, but it’s not unreachable. To get closer to that magical spot, UGA has to get it done against South Carolina and not allow Frank Martin to extend his program’s winning streak over Georgia to 10 games this Saturday.

Quick reaction to Florida’s 70-63 win

Featured

Days removed from a stunning upset of #20 Missouri, Georgia came out extremely flat at Florida, which allowed the Gators to complete the season sweep of UGA. I’m not going to lie, I fell into the all too familiar trap of getting my hopes up prior to this one and thinking that maybe, just maybe, the Dawgs could steal a win in Gainesville and take another step towards a .500 conference record. Thus is the life of a UGA basketball fan, though; the highs are few and far between, and they are typically quickly followed up by lows. Here’s my quick reaction to the game:

Ultimately, the Dawgs couldn’t the overcome the first-half offensive debacle. With 15:50 left before the break, Georgia held an 8-7 advantage after a layup from Sahvir Wheeler. The next 9+ minutes for UGA included 0 makes, 12 misses and 5 turnovers; that kind of production typically doesn’t pay dividends, and this afternoon was no different as the Gators had amassed a 25-12 lead with a little over 6 minutes remaining in the first half. Georgia shot an ugly 32% from the floor and made just 1 of 12 from beyond the arc prior to the intermission, which enabled Florida to garner a 37-23 halftime advantage.

While Mike White’s team shot it well (48%) in the first 20 minutes, they weren’t exactly a model of efficiency. The Gators committed 9 first-half turnovers, but Georgia only converted them into 6 points. Florida’s sloppiness persisted into the second half as they ended up with 20 giveaways on the afternoon; however, the Dawgs couldn’t capitalize and scored just 17 points off the turnovers. For all UGA’s first half faults, this game was there for the taking due to Florida’s poor ball security.

On the other hand, Georgia’s defensive effort against the Gators was much improved. In the first meeting between these two teams, Florida blitzkrieged the Dawgs for 92 points, with 22 of them coming on second chance opportunities. Tom Crean’s team did a much better job of chasing the ball and contesting shots, and the result was that UGA held the Gators slightly under their SEC scoring average and permitted just 6 second chance points. Florida’s shooting from the perimeter after the break nearly mirrored Georgia’s first half effort as the Gators made only 1 of 13 triple attempts.

Sahvir Wheeler played his best game yet as a Georgia Bulldog, but he didn’t have much support. The sophomore scored a career-high 27 points and he looked fantastic doing it. Wheeler was so savvy bringing the ball down the court on the break and regularly making the correct decision as to when to attack the rim.

UGA’s other steady offensive contributors all turned in clunkers this afternoon, though. This team has consistently had 4 or more players finish in double-figures this season, but today Tom Crean only had Wheeler and Tye Fagan (14 points) reach that mark. Grad transfers Justin Kier and P.J. Horned shot a combined 1 for 16 from the floor and they missed all 6 of their three-point attempts; Kier had 4 turnovers as well in what was truly a forgettable performance. Sophomore Toumani Camara once again dealt with foul trouble, and he managed only 7 points to go along with 4 turnovers before fouling out with over 8 minutes of game time remaining. Freshman K.D. Johnson couldn’t ever really get things going offensively as he netted 8 points on a 3 for 11 shooting performance.

UGA closes out the regular season next week with two chances to avenge earlier losses as they take on LSU and then South Carolina.

Quick reaction: UGA’s 2nd half defense prevails

Featured

Just days after giving up 115 points to Alabama, Georgia’s (13-8, 6-8) defense carried it in a 80-70 win over #20 Mizzou. Toumani Camara, who’s made under 30% of his three-point attempts this season, buried a pair of triples in the first half to start this game. Justin Kier, who’d missed his previous 8 three-point attempts leading up to this contest, hit both his attempts from that spot tonight en route to a team high 16 points. Bizzaro world? Nope. Just Georgia basketball.

After an evenly played first half that saw Mizzou head into the locker room with a 37-33 advantage, Georgia had a brutal start coming out of the intermission. The Dawgs opened up the second half with 3 turnovers and a miss, and before 3 minutes had transpired the Tigers lead had ballooned to 46-33. Tom Crean put in Jaxon Etter and Andrew Garcia with the hopes that they could provide a spark off the bench, and those two did just that as they combined for 11 points over the next 6 minutes which brought Georgia to within a bucket.

Georgia’s defensive intensity when Etter, Garcia and K.D. Johnson are on the floor is infectious, and ultimately it helps to facilitate offense for the Dawgs. After committing just 2 turnovers prior to the break, Mizzou coughed the ball up 11 times in the final 20 minutes and those errors led to 9 Georgia points. The Dawgs held the Tigers without a field goal for over 4 minutes down the final stretch of this contest, which allowed Georgia to turn a 66-64 lead into a 78-64 edge; Tom Crean’s team essentially closed out the game with its defense. Let that sink in for a moment.

In all fairness to Mizzou, they were playing without big man Jeremiah Tillman, who is unfortunately dealing with a death in the family. Tillman is a huge part of Coach Martin’s gameplan as he is netting over 13 points and grabbing more than 7 boards in SEC play.

Still, Georgia’s perimeter defenders did a superb job of keeping Martin’s backcourt stars in check. Xavier Pinson and Dru Smith entered this game averaging nearly 29 points combined a night; yet against Georgia, these two mustered just 20 points between them on an unforgettable 8 of 23 performance from the floor.

If you are trying to figure out this UGA team, best of luck. Despite losing leading scorers Anthony Edwards and Rayshaun Hammonds from last year’s squad, the Dawgs have now won more SEC games (6) than last season. At the risk of becoming repetitive, UGA’s defense, which is the worst scoring defense in the conference, took over the second half against Mizzou and won this game.

Warning: this post contains some illuminating photos of UGA’s perimeter defense

Featured

Tom Crean was brought to Athens to fix UGA’s offense. What the administration didn’t know is that he would be helping out opposing offenses as well. The Dawgs allowed Alabama to set an SEC school scoring record this afternoon in Tuscaloosa as the Tide tallied a whopping 115 points (to Georgia’s 82). After today, UGA is really starting to create some separation between themselves and the other worst scoring defenses in the league as the Dawgs are now permitting almost 85 a contest in SEC play (and they are 14th in the league in that category).

Before we get more into the debacle that was the UGA defense, it should be noted that Georgia guards K.D. Johnson and Sahvir Wheeler both turned in impressive offensive performances. Johnson led all UGA scorers with 24 points as he eclipsed the 20-point mark for his second consecutive game. Wheeler was effective as well as he notched 16 points on an array of drives and penetration. The rest of the Georgia offense wasn’t as memorable as the Dawgs shot an abysmal 2 of 19 from beyond the arc.

The real kicker about UGA’s haplessness from the perimeter was just how darn efficient Alabama was from that part of the court. By halftime, the Tide had matched their season SEC average of 11 triples en route to a 51-38 advantage. Bama would end up knocking down 18 three-pointers in this one on an impressive 60% shooting effort from the perimeter. The Tide didn’t just have 5 players finish in double-figures, but they were just 7 collective points shy of having 4 players end up with 20 points or more. I suppose when the SEC’s #1 scoring offense locks horns with the league’s worst scoring defense anything is possible.

It’s no secret that this Georgia team struggles to put up much resistance on the defensive side of the ball. But the manner in which UGA got torched today was fairly astounding considering that everyone knew that this Bama team is the not only the best three-point shooting team in the SEC, but one of the most effective in the nation as well. Yet, Georgia still didn’t close out with a purpose and contest shots. I’ve included screenshots of 6 of the Tide’s first 7 triples. I say this just to let the reader know that these images were not cherry-picked; I could have continued rewatching Bama knock down uncontested three after uncontested three, but that just felt like a waste of my Saturday evening. Anyhow, notice how open the Bama players on are all 6 of these looks; frankly, this is just a microcosm of the entire game:

Maybe 6 feet or more between them?
No UGA player even on that side of the court
Another 6 feet of separation
Garcia is there, but he’s flat footed and providing the Crimson Tide player with an excellent view of the rimi
One extra pass and this dude is WIDE open on the baseline
I would make this three also.

The most sobering realization from today’s game is the reminder of just how far away Georgia is from the SEC’s top programs. The Dawgs have lost to the league’s top 3 teams – Bama, Tennessee and Arkansas – by an average of 24 points, and that number would be more if the Vols hadn’t lost interest in UGA and kept the pedal down. I’m not ready to give up on the Tom Crean experiment yet; he deserves another season. However, if next year does not include a trip to the NCAA tournament, then I feel as though it will be time for the Dawgs and Crean to part ways.

Georgia’s 3PT defense crucial to its success

Featured

The Georgia Bulldogs (12-7, 5-7) offense this season has been fairly productive despite a consistent lack of ball security. Even though the Dawgs are committing a league-leading 17 turnovers a night, Georgia is still 6th in scoring (75.9 ppg), which can largely be attributed to the team’s stellar field goal percentage (46.1%), the second best in the conference.

Against #16 Tennessee on Wednesday, the Dawgs gave the ball to the Vols 18 times, yet UGA still managed to hang 81 points on the SEC’s best scoring defense as Tennessee has been yielding just 65 a contest in league games.

Georgia’s Achilles Heel may lie in its inability to defend well enough beyond the arc. Tom Crean’s team is just 1-5 in SEC games in which the opposing team connects on greater than 38% of its three-point attempts, with Vandy being the lone exception as the ‘Dores made just under 40% in a 73-70 loss to the Dawgs last weekend. Conversely, in UGA’s other 4 SEC wins, teams are making only 25% of their shots from the perimeter. Could the key to whether this team wins or loses rely heavily on its ability to close out and contest triple attempts?

In Wednesday’s loss to the Vols, Georgia ultimately could not overcome a massive halftime deficit that saw Rick Barnes’s team take a 44-26 advantage into the break. The Dawgs halfheartedly defended around the arc in the first half and Tennessee, a team that entered the game making only 6 triples a night, had 8 of them by halftime. UGA cleaned this up following the intermission and limited the Vols to just 2 more triples in the game’s final 20 minutes, which enabled Georgia to cut the UT advantage down to single digits.

I’m not going to declare UGA’s defensive rebounding issues as completely solved, but protecting the glass hasn’t been nearly as problematic for the Dawgs lately as it was for much of the SEC slate. The Vols managed just 6 offensive rebounds that led to 9 second chance points against Georgia, marking the 3rd consecutive game in which the Dawgs held an opponent under 10 offensive boards. Tom Crean’s staff has obviously lit a fire under this team in regards to their effort when it comes to defensive rebounding; they’ve got to find a way to spread that intensity to UGA’s perimeter defense.

Enter #11 Alabama, UGA’s foe on Saturday. The Crimson Tide will mark Georgia’s second game against a ranked team this week, and on top of that, Bama is the best three-point shooting squad in the SEC. The Tide are knocking down almost 40% of their shots from beyond the arc, and they are manufacturing nearly 12 triples a night in league play. Bama is primed to capitalize on UGA’s ineffective perimeter defense.

With the amount of times this UGA team turns the ball over per game, they can’t afford to yield 5 additional triples to Bama like they did on Wednesday with the Vols (those 5 extra three-pointers were the difference in the game). The Dawgs must find a way to make the Tide uncomfortable from the outside if they want to have a shot at pulling off the upset on Saturday.

Quick reaction to Georgia’s win over Vandy

Featured

After a nail biting 73-70 home win over Vanderbilt, the Dawgs are now 5-6 in SEC play and in the midst of their first 3-game conference win streak since the 2016-2017 season. In addition, UGA has already matched last season’s SEC win total, which gives Tom Crean’s squad a realistic opportunity at showing improvement in the win column in league play. Considering this team lost the #1 overall pick from this year’s NBA draft, that’s something that Crean can potentially hang his hat on. Here are some quick reactions to the Bulldogs’ victory:

Georgia has some legitimate threats from beyond the arc. Even though the Dawgs only knocked down 1 triple in the second half of the game against Vandy, Georgia still connected on over 46% of its attempts from the outside. Over the past 3 games, UGA has hit 50% of its three-point shots; P.J. Horne, who netted 14 points this evening, buried 4 of 5 from the perimeter. Horne has 8 triples over this same stretch of games, and his presence from the outside is preventing defenders from being able to provide as much weak side help on penetration. Guess who benefits from those missed rotations? None other than Sahvir Wheeler, who diced up the Dores for 16 points and 9 assists on a night in which he seemed to be living in the paint.

After committing only 13 giveaways in the win over Auburn, the turnover bug reared its ugly head and plagued Georgia on Saturday. The Dawgs coughed the ball up 21 times and those mishaps led to 29 points for Jerry Stackhouse’s team. If UGA valued the ball better this evening, they would have won by double-digits and not needed a lifesaving block by Toumani Camara to seal the game. What’s even more concerning is that 8 of those turnovers came during the first 5 minutes of both the first and second halves, which are critical sections of game that help set the tone for each half of play.

Tom Crean got big contributions off the bench that helped propel his team to the win. JUCO transfer Tyron McMillan put together his best half of basketball as a Bulldog this season in the first 20 minutes as he notched 8 points in just 5 minutes of play. The 6’9″ McMillan provided this undersized Georgia team with solid minutes in the paint, which made it even more bizarre that he only saw the floor for 2 minutes in the second half. The other non-starter that gave UGA a spark was Jaxon Etter, who scored 7 points, including some key buckets down the stretch. Etter also defended Scotty Pippen, Jr. for a chunk in the second half, and he helped frustrate Jr. into a 3 of 12 shooting performance that led to just 12 points. That’s an impressive feat considering Pippen entered this game netting over 20 a game in league play.

UGA shocks Auburn on The Plains

Featured

With the 91-86 win over Auburn on The Plains, the Georgia Bulldogs (11-6, 4-6) are currently in the midst of their second conference win streak of the season; the first two-game span came with the victories over Ole Miss and Kentucky. Something about Kermit Davis’s team gets this Georgia bunch yearning for more the next time they take the court.

Since the Tigers dismantled UGA 95-77 in Athens back in January, Bruce Pearl’s team had won 3 of its last 4 league games. To say that Auburn is probably feeling a little shell shocked right now would be an understatement.

Georgia was the aggressor in this one from the opening tip. Tom Crean’s team had infectiously high energy from both the players on the court as well as those on the bench. The Dawgs were quicker to loose balls and they outworked the Tigers on the glass. Defensive rebounding has been an Achilles Heel for this team in SEC play, yet this evening Georgia yielded just 7 offensive boards to Auburn (which led to 14 second chance points). UGA’s success at securing Auburn’s misses enabled the Dawgs to get out in transition, which is where this team is typically most comfortable on offense.

In league contests, Auburn’s scoring defense ranked 11th entering tonight as Pearl’s team had been giving up nearly 79 a night. Honestly, it appeared as though the Tigers weren’t expecting much of a fight from Georgia by how lackadaisical they appeared defensively. Auburn’s second level defense was nonexistent and Georgia took advantage and punished the Tigers with 52 points in the paint. This was a stark contrast from the first time these two teams met when Auburn recorded 14 blocked shots as the Tiger defenders routinely rotated to provide help defense. The Dawgs had 6 players finish the game in double-figures, with Tye Fagan and Toumani Camara leading the way with 16 and 15, respectively (Camara also had 12 boards to notch the double-double).

Georgia showed a lot of poise down the stretch of this game. With a little over 10 minutes remaining, UGA had a 69-57 lead that would eventually be whittled down to a 6-point Georgia advantage with only 6 minutes left. However, the Dawgs did exactly what they needed to do to close this one out: they valued the basketball and made free throws. In the final 10 minutes of this contest, Tom Crean’s team committed just 1 turnover, which really limited Auburn’s extra scoring opportunities. Over the final 2 minutes of the game, the Dawgs knocked down 9 of 12 from the free throw line. Teams that don’t give the ball away and make opponents pay from the stripe typically hold onto leads, just as Georgia did this evening.

The Dawgs host 1-6 Vandy on Saturday, which gives Crean’s team a legit shot at moving into the middle of the conference standings. After Saturday, 4 of Georgia’s final 6 SEC games will come against teams that are currently ranked. If UGA is going to have a shot at surpassing last season’s win total of 5, this weekend’s game is a must-win.

Hey SEC: maybe UGA and Ole Miss should play once a week?

Featured

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…

South Carolina continues its dominance over Georgia

Featured

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!?!?