Hoop Dawgs

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Georgia’s NCAA Prospects

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This is Decatur Dawg continuing to fill in for Hoop Dawg.

Georgia enters the SEC Tournament as the #6 seed.  Four wins in four days would make us SEC Tournament Champs and automatic qualifiers for the NCAA.  Of course, we all know how hard it is to pull off that feat (barring a natural disaster) especially for a team like Georgia that lacks quality depth.  The question becomes: is it possible for Georgia to receive an NCAA at-large bid?

The Hoop Dawgs had a disastrous 0-3 stretch from Feb. 16 – 24 in which we lost to Vandy, Florida and Auburn.  After the Auburn loss (RPI 150+) the Dawgs were considered out of  NCAA consideration and hanging on by our fingernails for an NIT bid.

That Auburn loss remains a major blemish and the only truly bad loss on the Dawgs’ resume.  But three straight wins over top 100 RPI teams Ole Miss, South Carolina and Alabama have the Dawgs at least back in the NCAA conversation heading into the conference tournaments.  Georgia’s current RPI of 71 is not good enough, but there is still time for us to move up in to the 50s and get serious consideration. Our #26 strength of schedule and #3 non-conference SOS are major stats in our favor. Joe Lunardi lists us as one of the “second four out” on his Bracketology page.

My take is that Georgia has a very good chance of getting an at-large bid with 3 wins in the SEC Tourney — which would get us to 20 wins overall,  13 wins in SEC play and a 6-1 finish to our season.  I doubt that many Power 5 teams have missed the NCAA with 13 conference wins.  In this scenario, we would have 3 wins vs. S Carolina, a team considered to be in the NCAA. It would be hard for the selection committee to give them the nod and leave us out.  If we win just two games in the SEC Tournament, then say take a close loss to Kentucky, I would think we still have a long shot chance at being selected to the NCAA.

Teams to Root Against:

The NCAA at-large bids are a zero-sum game.  Losses by these teams in their conference tournaments are good news for the Dawgs:

Florida – it comes naturally to root against the Gators but we have extra incentive based on their beating us twice and the limited number of spaces for SEC teams in the NCAA. The reptiles have lost 4 of 5 games so a first round loss to Arkansas would seem to put them out of NCAA consideration and open up Georgia’s chances of being a potential 5th SEC team in the Big Dance.

Others on the bubble:  Syracuse, St. Bonaventure, UConn, Oregon St., Tulsa, Gonzaga, Michigan, George Washington and Ohio State are all teams we are competing with for one of the last NCAA spots.

Teams to Root For

The RPI formula makes for strange bedfellows:

Georgia Tech (RPI 69): Currently our third best win based on RPI, a win or two by the Jackets in the ACC Tournament could raise Georgia’s RPI and maybe even get us a top 50 win.

Small Conference Leaders: St. Mary’s, Akron, S. Dakota St., Valporaiso, San Diego St., Monmouth, Arkansas Little Rock and Chattanooga are all #1 seeds in their respective conferences and ranked ahead of Georgia in the RPI.  We want every one of these teams to win their conference tournaments because otherwise they may take an at-large bid off the board.

What about the NIT?

At this point the Hoop Dawgs look good for an NIT bid.  A loss to Missy State in the first game would leave us to sweat out the NIT selection and assure a road trip for the first game if we are selected.  With two wins in the SEC Tournament, I like our chances of hosting an NIT game or two.

Written by hoopdawg

March 7, 2016 at 3:24 pm

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Georgia Overpowers Alabama in the Paint to Win 70-63

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This is Decatur Dawg guest blogging through the SEC tournament while Hoop Dawg is wandering the Mexican desert.  I will do my best to fill his large shoes during this critical part of the season.

Georgia owned the paint on Senior Night against a big Alabama front line and won an entertaining game 70-63.  The Dawgs dominated the glass, posting a huge 48-26 rebounding advantage and scoring almost all of our 70 points inside or from the foul line.

After a nice ceremony for seniors Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann pregame, the Dawgs came out shooting cold, missing 8 of our first 9 shots while the Tide staked a 10-4 lead over the first five minutes of play.  Coach Fox presumably directed the ball inside during the first timeout and Yante Maten promptly scored 7 straight points – including a nice three point play off an alert interior pass from Derek Ogbeide – to give the Dawgs an 11-10 lead.

The Dawgs led most of the way from that point but the Tide did make a quick 7-0 run to grab the lead 40-38 with a transition bucket off a block of Kessler’s shot.  Georgia was not going to lose this game though, and the Dawgs got the crowd on its feet when JJ Fraiser fed Maten in transition for a monster dunk that put the Dawgs up for good with 7 minutes left.  JJ then made 10 of 10 free throws down the stretch to ice the game.

Maten was Georgia’s player of the game with 19 points and 5 rebounds and converted three old fashioned three point plays along the way.  Freshmen Ogbeide and Mike Edwards also played probably their best games as Bulldogs as well, combining for 12 points and 9 rebounds in 37 combined minutes.  Ogbeide was particularly effective in the first half with 8 points and 5 rebounds but mysteriously spent a lot of time on the bench in the second half.  This was clearly the best game of the season for the Bulldogs’ young front line and showed much promise for the future.

Gaines and Mann had solid, if unspectacular games in what was likely their last game at the Steg.  Mann in particular played great defense and contributed 7 rebounds.

Alabama was led by a surprising 25 point night from Shannon Hale off the bench.  His ability to shoot from outside seemed to create a bad defensive matchup for Maten in the second half.

WIth this win, Georgia ended the regular season on a three game winning streak and heads to Nashville with strong momentum for the SEC Tournament.  Georgia also finished the SEC schedule with a winning record for a third straight season and that makes four straight SEC campaigns of .500 or better — the first such streak in Georgia history and a major accomplishment for Coach Fox.

Written by hoopdawg

March 5, 2016 at 10:02 pm

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Texas A&M 79, Georgia 45

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Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, I am in New York for a wedding so I was unable to attend or see the game other than the final score. What the heck happened? I would greatly appreciate any comments or insights into this debacle.

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January 16, 2016 at 4:11 pm

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Georgia loses a heartbreaker in Oxford

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With 3.8 seconds remaining in the game, Georgia got the ball into Charles Mann’s hands near half court, providing the Dawgs with a chance at a  reasonable last second shot.  Mann’s pass to Kenny Gaines was deflected, though, forcing Gaines to take an off-balanced three-pointer that careened off the rim, giving Mississippi the 72-71 home win.

UGA yielded 29 points to Stefan Moody, though none were bigger than the two he hit to send his team up by one with less than 4 seconds remaining (even though it appeared as though he needed three steps to get that basket).

The Dawgs put up a gutty effor on the road, falling just short in Oxford on Saturday night.  Georgia played the final stretch of this one without its star player, Yante Maten, who fouled out with 3:36 remaining in the game; Maten left with a team-high 20 points and 9 rebounds, his team clinging to a 64-62 lead.

Neither team shot the ball well in Oxford on Saturday, with both squads hitting just 36% from the floor.  Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines were the only other Bulldogs to finish in double-figures for Coach Mark Fox, scoring 15 and 14, respectively.  Gaines’s points, however, came at the expense of a 3 for 14 shooting performance.

Georgia looked like it was going to get run out of the gym early, falling behind 19-11 with 12:50 left before the break after a layup by Rashad Brooks.

The Dawgs didn’t flinch, though. Rather, UGA responded with an impressive 16-2 run, capped off by a pair of free throws from Charles Mann that gave Georgia a 27-21 advantage. The Dawgs would go on to take a 44-35 lead into the intermission.

But Georgia went ice cold in the second half, hitting just 7 of its 24 field goal attempts.  Slowly but surely, Ole Miss cut into the UGA lead until it had been whittled down to nothing.

The biggest bright spot off the Georgia bench had to be Derek Ogbeide, who scored 9 points to go along with his 10 boards, falling just a basket shy of his first career double-double.  The Rebels opted not to guard starter Houston Kessler from the outside, which leaves one wondering just how long he will continue to see more minutes than Ogbeide, who seems far more productive than the senior at this point in the season.

This loss leaves UGA at 1-2 in conference, and it’s going to sting for a bit.  The Dawgs appeared to be on their way to their first SEC road win of the season before Moody knifed his way to the basket and put his team on top.

Georgia will need to get over this loss quickly, though,  as they have two difficult home games on the horizon next week against Tennessee and #21 Texas A&M.

Written by hoopdawg

January 9, 2016 at 11:22 pm

Dawgs tame Tigers, improve to 1-1 in conference play

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The Georgia Bulldogs (8-4) rebounded nicely from their loss last Saturday to the Florida Gators, blasting the Missouri Tigers (7-7) at home in Athens on Tuesday night.  The Dawgs didn’t waste any time either, jumping out to a 10-0 lead following a Yante Maten basket before even 3 minutes had the chance to expire.

Mizzou managed to trim he UGA lead to 24-18 with 7:30 left before the break after a pair of three’s from Wes Clark. However, this mini-run came at a time when Coach Fox had all but one starter on the floor.  He immediately sent in his starting five and 3 minutes later the Dawgs lead had blossomed to 33-20.

Georgia played great offensively tonight, though some of that was due to the Tigers’ soft defense.  Mizzou looked as if it was moving in slow motion compared to the Gators’ hectic defensive style of play.

However, the Dawgs do deserve some credit for their productivity.  Georgia shot a robust 55% from the floor and an even better 58% from three-point land.  In addition, UGA shared the ball incredibly well, dishing out 19 team assists.

Georgia had four of its starters finish in double-figures, with J.J. Frazier leading the way with 16 points.

Yante Maten, who had 15 points and 6 boards on the night, scored 13 of those in the first half.  Maten was unstoppable from the start, and with about 12 minutes left before the intermission he was outscoring the Tigers 11-10 on his own.   Had Georgia not been coasting so much in the second half, Maten could have easily gone for 20+ in this one.

Senior Charles Mann had a nice comeback game, scoring 14 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 6 assists.  Mann hit 2 of his 3 three-point attempts against Mizzou, and he is now making over 45% of his three’s on the season – although, he’s only shot 11 of them.

Ultimately though, Missouri didn’t have an answer for anything UGA was doing.  They couldn’t even begin to wrap their minds around how to deal with Maten, and on top of that, Georgia was stroking the ball extremely well from beyond the arc.

Not to take away from Coach Fox’s team, but this Missouri team is very young and they don’t shoot very well, hitting just 35% from the floor and less than 16% from the perimeter in tonight’s contest.  The Dawgs played pretty well defensively, but the Tigers weren’t much of a threat, missing a number of close shots around the rim.

This 77-59 home win evens Georgia’s SEC record at 1-1, with a road matchup against Ole Miss on the horizon.  While this game is going to be taking place outside Athens, the Rebels play Bama at home on Thursday evening, meaning that they will be dealing with a quick turnaround in order to prepare for the Dawgs.

Written by hoopdawg

January 6, 2016 at 8:52 pm

Dawgs begin conference play with a loss

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After winning four games in a row to close out December, including victories over Clemson and Georgia Tech, Georgia (7-4, 0-1) appeared to have finally met its match on Saturday in Gainesville against the Florida Gators.

Actually, UGA looked overmatched.

Florida’s defense overwhelmed the Dawgs.  Georgia had difficulty getting into its offense on a number of possessions, struggling to handle the Gators’ pressure.

The result: UGA hit less than 36% of its shots from the floor, including going just 2 of 12 from beyond the arc.  This offensive ineptness ultimately led to a 77-63 Florida win in both of these team’s first SEC game of the season.

Also, Florida hit 9 three-pointers, and the Gators had five players finish in double-figures, with KeVaughn Allen leading the way with 18 points.   Florida took a lot more uncontested shots than Georgia, which aided them in shooting a higher percentage on Saturday.

This contest seemed as though it was going to get out of hand early after Devin Robinson hit a three that gave his Gators a 24-11 advantage with a little over 9 minutes left in the half.  The Dawgs recovered, though, trimming the Florida lead to 38-31 going into the intermission.

Coming out of the break, Yante Maten scored 6 of his team’s first 8 points,  including a jumper with 16:58 left in the game that cut the Gator advantage to just 43-39.  It didn’t remain close for long, however, as Florida went on an 11-5 run that saw the score balloon to 54-44 with a little more than 12 minutes remaining.

The Dawgs were unable to close that gap over the final 10 minutes – actually, it increased – and Georgia suffered a double-digit loss at the hands of its rival.

Maten finished with 20 points and 7 rebounds, and it seems likely that he will end up on an All-SEC team by year’s end.

Kenny Gaines and J.J. Frazier were the only other Bulldogs to end up in double-figures, scoring 13 and 12, respectively.

Charles Mann ended up with 9 points, but he shot only 1 of 7 from the field and he failed to dish out a single assist. Additionally, Mann committed a team high 3 turnovers, and he now has 3 more turnovers than assists on the season, which is troubling considering he is a senior guard.

The Dawgs will be more successful this season if Mark Fox can convince Mann that his job on this team is to be a role player.  Mann is shooting under 31% on the season, and he continues to force things offensively – and not in a good way.

UGA’s best offensive options are Maten, Gaines and Frazier, so Mann and the rest of the Bulldogs should feel obliged to get these three players as many decent looks at the basket as possible, night in, night out.

At the end of the day, though, conference road wins are tough to come by in college basketball, so UGA fans should steer clear of the panic button.  Georgia hosts Missouri in Athens on Wednesday, and then the Dawgs have a winnable road game next Saturday in Oxford.

By this time next week, Georgia could have a winning SEC record.

Written by hoopdawg

January 3, 2016 at 8:48 am

Georgia ends 2015 on a high note

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A week long hiatus from the hard courts didn’t seem to faze Coach Mark Fox’s Bulldogs (7-3) on Tuesday.  Granted, UGA’s opponent, Robert Morris (2-11), might have been the weakest opponent on Georgia’s schedule thus far, a schedule that ESPN deems the most difficult in the nation (at the moment).

The Colonials came into Athens determined to play nothing but zone defense on Tuesday night, and the mission was accomplished as they avoided manning Georgia for the entire 40 minutes.  The Dawgs looked well-prepared though, dishing out 23 assists and shooting nearly 55% from the floor.

UGA was led offensively by Yante Maten and J.J. Frazier, who scored 20 and 17, respectively.  Georgia’s scoring was fairly balanced on Tuesday with four players chipping in 6 or more points.  The Dawgs’ passing was sublime as they patiently moved the ball in and out of the Colonial zone, attacking the weak spots with a purpose.

Georgia was in control for the majority of this contest, keeping Robert Morris at bay by double digits for much of the night.  However, the Colonials did try to make it interesting after Elijah Minnie buried a three that cut the UGA lead to 44-39 with 15:35 left in the game. The Dawgs responded with a 10-3 run, though, which was punctuated by a hook from Houston Kessler that gave Georgia a 54-42 advantage with 10 minutes remaining.  UGA managed to coast for the rest of the game to secure the 79-67 win, its 4th in a row.

Georgia entered tonight’s contest 7th in the nation in team field goal percentage defense, limiting opponents to just 36% on the season.  Coach Fox’s team turned in another strong effort this evening, holding the Colonials to below 38% from the floor, which makes them yet another team that UGA has held under its season average in that category.

All and all, Georgia had a pretty solid preseason, taking a 7-3 record into conference play.  Coming into this season, UGA knew that it would be challenged to replace Marcus Thornton, who was a second team All-SEC player at the end of last year.

Yante Maten has filled in and then some in Thornton’s absence, netting nearly 16 points and 8 rebounds through 10 games.  Maten’s offensive game is becoming increasingly dynamic as he can now score with both his back to the basket and on jumpers outside the paint.

If Georgia can continue to get productivity from at least two of its three guards – Charles Mann, Kenny Gaines or J.J. Frazier – on a nightly basis, the Dawgs should be able to win more games than they lose this year in the Southeastern Conference.

But Georgia has a tough test in its SEC opener, taking on the Florida Gators in Gainesville this Saturday.  As stout as UGA’s non-conference schedule has been so far, the competition is definitely set to ramp up for this bunch of Dawgs come Saturday.

 

 

 

Written by hoopdawg

December 29, 2015 at 9:31 pm