Posts Tagged ‘Georgia Bulldogs’
Last night’s contest between the Georgia Bulldogs (8-3) and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6-4) left the rims inside McCamish Pavillion bruised and battered. The fans that came to watch offense on Tuesday evening definitely left the arena sorely disappointed. Neither team shot above 38% from the floor, and Tech hit only 1 for 10 from beyond the arc, compared to UGA’s 3 for 18 effort. Georgia Tech managed just 43 points, its lowest output since being held to 41 by Clemson back in 2014.
Why Georgia couldn’t score
The Jackets ran an extended 1-3-1 zone for much of the night in an effort to limit Yante Maten’s looks inside, and to their credit, it worked. Maten had very few opportunities where he received the ball on the block close to the bucket, and even when he did, he was immediately surrounded by multiple Tech defenders. Maten finished the night as the game’s leading scorer with 16 points, but they were hard-earned and came at the expense of a 5 for 12 shooting effort.
J.J. Frazier scored 15 points, but it certainly wasn’t one of his better games as a Bulldog. He once again struggled with his shot, making only 1 of his 6 attempts from the perimeter. Frazier also dished out 4 turnovers to just 2 assists. However, he was the only UGA point guard that seemed capable of attacking Tech’s zone and drawing multiple defenders so that his teammates could get open. Turtle Jackson, who thankfully only played 12 minutes, did the opposite as he got rid of the ball as soon as he could once it crossed half court. Not that UGA’s offense was clicking on all cylinders last night by any means, but it went into downright stall out mode when Turtle took the helm so that J.J. could rest.
Something tells me more teams might start defending Georgia in this manner moving forward.
Why Tech couldn’t score
Coach Mark Fox employed a man defense for most of the game, which made sense considering UGA had the more talented roster. I cannot say that I have seen a lot of Tech basketball this year, but offensively, there is not a lot there. The Jackets’ leading scorer, Ben Lammers, was the only Tech player to end up in double-figures as he scored 10 points on a 4 for 10 night from the floor. Lammers also had 8 rebounds and 3 blocks, which earned him “Player of the Game” honors according to the giant replay screen above center court. Considering his team got trounced and he had just the 4th highest point total of the night, I hope that Lammers doesn’t take much solace in that meaningless award.
Tech’s other senior big, Quinton Stephens, was determined to show the world that he can in fact create his own shot off the dribble. However, the basketball gods inside McCamish had other ideas as Stephens missed all 9 of his attempts from the floor and turned the ball over 4 times.
UGA out rebounded the Jackets by a tally of 40-31, and even more importantly, they limited Tech to only 2 second chance points. Considering how poorly the Jackets shot it on Tuesday, Georgia’s defensive rebounding might have been the difference in this game as they permitted Tech to grab just 5 offensive boards.
Critical moment of the game #1
The first came with 7:45 remaining before the break and the Dawgs leading 19-10, following an old-fashioned three-point play by Yante Maten. Georgia had wrestled control of this contest from the Jackets, and they appeared poised to deliver a knockout blow to the home team going into the half. However, instead of keeping his foot on the pedal, Mark Fox opted to pump the breaks, taking Maten out 17 seconds later and then removing Frazier a minute after that. The result: Tech went on a 6-0 run and after a pair of free throws by Josh Okogie the Jackets only trailed the Dawgs 19-16. Georgia ended up taking a 27-18 advantage into the intermission, but it felt like they should have been up by 15 or more.
Critical moment of the game #2
With 15:22 left and UGA up 34-24, Georgia Tech decided to extend a media timeout for a planned on-court celebration of its Governor’s Cup trophy that the football team earned in Athens back in November. I have no idea why this celebration didn’t occur at some point during halftime since the game operations people obviously knew that the football players were going to take the floor. Apparently this commemoration did not sit well with Coach Fox’s team as they outscored Tech 13-8 over the next 8 minutes, extending the Georgia lead to 47-32, and putting this contest out of reach for Josh Pastner’s bunch.
While this game was not a thing of beauty, all and all, it was a huge win for the Dawgs. Georgia secured the non-conference win over a Power 5 opponent that it desperately needed, and this victory came on the road, which was an added bonus. Another thing Coach Fox’s team did was avoid a potential “bad loss” to a Tech team that currently has an RPI of 169 and no prospects of moving that number below the century mark any time soon.
The Georgia Bulldogs returned to the hard courts for the first time since galavanting this summer throughout Spain, where UGA won all of its exhibitions. In tonight’s exhibition game, the Dawgs played host to the Fort Valley State Wildcats, a team hailing from the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC).
The Wildcats were undersized and overmatched, and the Dawgs dismantled them inside Stegeman by a count of 94-38. Even though this game meant nothing in regards to the win-loss column, Mark Fox’s team definitely showed up with a sense of purpose defensively, holding Fort Valley to under 25% from the field. UGA subbed at an incredible rate, even for Fox, yet for the most part everyone who came in entered the game prepared to work on the defensive end. The Wildcats had managed just 2 points after nearly ten minutes of game time had eclipsed.
Offensively, Georgia was led by Yante Maten, who looked like a man among boys on Thursday. Maten scored a game-high 19 points on an array of hooks and dunks, and he even added a three. After being selected to the preseason All-SEC Second Team, Maten certainly appears poised for a big junior season.
UGA’s other star, senior J.J. Frazier, who was a All-SEC First Team selection, scored only 9 points. However, Frazier played sparingly, and he did have a nice stretch in the second half when he buried a series of three-pointers.
Both Maten and Frazier are two of Georgia’s known commodities, though. Tonight, fans headed to Stegeman to see some of the new Bulldog players as well as some of last year’s returning sophomores. The biggest surprise on the night had to be the play of freshman guard Tyree Crump, who comes from the same hometown as Kirby Smart: Bainbridge, Georgia. The rumors circling around Crump after the trip to Spain were that he could get hot from the perimeter, and the freshman did not disappoint on Thursday. Crump actually missed his first two attempts from beyond the arc, prompting Fox to sub him out. However, before a stoppage of play could occur, Crump knocked down a pair of three’s to get himself in the scoring column. He hit two more three-pointers in the second half, and Crump also scored on a nice drive off the dribble. Kenny Paul Geno and Juwan Parker may have started this game, but do not be surprised if Crump doesn’t play himself into one of the starting spots as the season progresses.
But in the end, it’s important to remember that tonight’s game was merely a surface-level look into this year’s UGA basketball team. The Dawgs played a ton of guys, and their opponent resembled nothing of what the competition will look like next Friday when Georgia opens at Clemson. Coach Fox does have two bonafide stars at his disposal in Frazier and Maten, though, and he appears to have a deeper bench than in years past.
With the Dawgs clinging to a 66-63 lead and under 90 seconds remaining, Georgia’s J.J. Frazier crossed half court and sunk a three-pointer from well outside the arc, sending Georgia up 69-63 with 1:14 left. This shot took the life out of Colonial Life Arena, and UGA went on to win 74-72 on South Carolina’s court.
Georgia was fortunate to even be in a position to win this game down the stretch considering that Coach Fox’s team turned the ball over 19 times tonight. The Dawgs’ passing was atrocious, particularly their entry looks. Yet even when the Gamecocks reclaimed the lead down the stretch, and then bolstered it to 61-57 with a little over 4 minutes remaining following a jumper by Sindarious Thornwell, UGA stood its ground.
Coach Mark Fox and his staff deserve a lot of credit for how they game planned to defend the Cocks in this one. For much of the night, UGA sat in a zone, daring the Carolina, who entered the game as 3rd worst in the SEC in three-point shooting in conference games, to beat them from the outside. South Carolina, for its part, obliged, making only 9 of its 26 three-point attempts. Carolina’s leading scorer, Michael Carrera, struggled mightily, mustering 13 points on a 5 for 21 shooting performance (which included him going just 1 of 10 from beyond the arc).
Georgia was led offensively by Kenny Gaines and J.J. Frazier, who scored 20 and 19, respectively. Gaines netted 14 of his 20 in the first half, while J.J. got 12 of his 19 after the intermission. Neither of them shot the ball particularly well in Columbia as they combined to make only 11 of 34 attempts. Frazier, though, found other ways to contribute, securing 9 rebounds and dishing out 7 assists as he nearly messed around and got a triple-double.
Georgia’s only other player to finish in double-digits was Yante Maten, who chipped in 13 points and 7 rebounds.
This victory marks just the third time this season that UGA has won on the road, and it completes the series sweep of Frank Martin’s USC team.
The Dawgs are now 16-12 overall and 9-8 in the SEC, and Georgia is 4-11 against the RPI Top 100 on the year. UGA is currently in 7th place in the league, but if Georgia can hold serve at home on Saturday against Alabama, the Dawgs could finish as high as 5th in the conference should South Carolina and Ole Miss stumble in their respective road games this weekend.
The loss to Florida was bad, but if they could just win the next five games they’d still have a chance to make a push for the NCAA tournament.
This is what I told myself as I made the five and a half hour drive from Athens to Nashville on Friday night.
That wishful thinking was crushed early in Memorial Gym on Saturday, as Georgia fell behind quickly and stayed behind, losing 80-67 to the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Georgia put up another offensive dud today, shooting only 38% from the floor en route to a 67-point performance. J.J. Frazier (21) and Yante Maten (19) combined for nearly 60% of their team’s output, while the rest of the supporting cast was nowhere to be found. Kenny Gaines managed only 5 points on a 2 for 10 shooting effort, making it the 4th time in the last 5 games that he has failed to finish in double-figures.
The Dawgs’ offense is becoming increasingly stagnant as the season progresses. In the early Mark Fox UGA years, Georgia scored regularly on both cuts down the lane and backdoor cuts set up by off-ball screens. Today, Fox’s team looked completely one-dimensional, relying heavily on pick and rolls, which Vanderbilt eventually got very comfortable defending. The result: UGA scored one point more than its SEC game average of 66 points.
Get this: in conference games, the Dawgs are now averaging the least amount of points per contest in the league. Team assists, which were once a staple of Mark Fox’s teams, are now hard to come by as UGA is dishing out only 11 per game, ranking them 11th in league in the category in SEC play. The numbers don’t lie, and at this point, I think it’s safe to say that Fox does not have the talent that he had when he first came on board in Athens.
Georgia has dropped 3 of its last 4 games, and not surprisingly, it has shot under 40% in all three losses. The Dawgs have become incredibly easy to guard, especially when Yante Maten is not on the floor. Even when Yante is in the game, UGA at most has 3 viable scoring threats, assuming J.J. and Gaines are playing, and that’s just not going to cut it against decent teams.
Georgia’s defense wasn’t much better, though, as they allowed all five Vanderbilt starters to finish in double-figures. The Dores were led by Wade Baldwin IV’s 17 points as well as Damian Jones, who netted a double-double, scoring 15 to go along with his game -high 16 boards (I should mention that Maten too had a double-double). On numerous occasions the Vandy guards made passes to wide open bigs, resulting in a string of uncontested dunks. The Dores shot nearly 46% from the floor, which is a point higher than their SEC game average.
The Dawgs are now 11-0 against teams ranked outside of the RPI Top 100, and 3-11 when playing teams inside it. Georgia is 2-7 on the road this year, which is bad news considering that they travel to The Plains on Wednesday for a rematch with Auburn. Today’s loss put UGA one step closer to playing on Thursday of this year’s SEC tournament; losing to the Tigers next week would almost assure it.
Kenny Gaines, who had knocked down three-pointers on consecutive possessions, couldn’t make it three in a row for the Dawgs, which would have tied the game at 56 apiece with less than 10 seconds remaining. Instead, Gaines’s attempt fell short, and so did Georgia’s comeback, giving Florida the 58-54 road win in Athens, along with a season sweep of Coach Mark Fox’s team.
At this point, any discussions of UGA (14-10) earning an at-large bid to this year’s NCAA Tournament are pure fantasy as Georgia is now a dismal 3-10 against the RPI Top 100.
Neither team shot the ball well tonight, but the difference was that Florida made a much higher percentage of its attempts in the second half. Even though the Dawgs took a 25-19 advantage into the intermission, I couldn’t help but feel uneasy as Florida was just 1 of 17 from beyond the arc in the game’s first twenty minutes; surely, at some point, the Gators would find their range, which they did following the break, knocking down 50% of their shots from both the field and three-point land.
UGA, however, hit just 32% from the floor on the night, making exactly 10 of 31 attempts in each half. The Dawgs’ offense hit a wall during the game’s final 7 minutes, just after UGA had taken a 44-41 lead following a nice finish by Yante Maten on the break. Georgia would score only one field goal over the next 6 minutes, which is why Coach Fox’s team found themselves in the predicament that they were in, trailing Florida 52-47 with less than a minute left.
The Gators, who pressured UGA relentlessly when the two teams met in Gainesville earlier this year, seemed content to play a half court game, which obviously worked in Georgia’s favor. Without having to face the ragged Gator press, the Dawgs managed to turn the ball over just 10 times on the night.
Florida was led offensively by KeVaughn Allen, who scored a game-high 19 points, including 4 three-pointers – 3 of which came in the second half.
Kenny Gaines, Yante Maten and J.J. Frazier scored 12, 11 and 10 points for UGA, respectively; though, none of them had much success in the shooting department. Gaines was 4 for 11, Frazier 4 for 10, and Maten hit only 4 of his 17 attempts.
The Dawgs are 1-7 this season against the RPI Top 50 for a reason: they don’t have enough players to to compete with high-level teams for 40 minutes. Georgia has two outside shooting threats and one legitimate post player, which is just not enough to be successful against strong competition. If one of those guys gets in foul trouble or is having an off night, UGA is essentially playing 4 on 5 when it has the ball.
Anyone know what the NIT bubble is looking like these days?
The Bulldogs are shooting under 68% as a team from the free throw line this season, which is just good enough to be 254th in the nation in that category. The Dawgs have already lost four games this season by less than 5 points. While all those losses cannot be attributed to ineptness from the charity stripe, it is safe to say that UGA’s record would be better than 11-8 if they could make more shots when the clock is stopped.
Georgia’s inability to hit free shots should not be that surprising, though, considering that this team doesn’t have that many shooters. Actually, they have two shooters: Kenny Gaines and J.J. Frazier. So, why would should anyone expect them to hit a high percentage of free throws as a team?
The concerning thing about UGA’s free throw issues is that under Mark Fox, Georgia has never really shot the ball well from the line. Only once in the last six years has a Mark Fox team finished above 70% from the stripe. The one time it happened was in Fox’s first year, back in the 2009-2010 season.
Disappointing second halves
Last night, Georgia got pummeled by Baylor coming out of the locker room. The Bears went on a 17-2 run after the break, erasing UGA’s three-point halftime lead before most fans had a chance to return to their seats.
Georgia’s poor performance in the final 20 minutes of last night’s game was in line with what is becoming a trend this season. Put simply: UGA hasn’t been getting it done in the scoring column after halftime. On the season, the Dawgs rank 182 in the country in 2nd half scoring, with an average margin of -0.3. Georgia is actually scoring more than their opponents at home after the break, sporting a positive margin of 2.3. But on the road, things have unraveled for UGA following the intermission, with opponents averaging nearly 6 more points per second half. Interestingly, the Dawgs do average more points on the road than their opposition during the first twenty minutes; it’s those final twenty that have been doing Georgia in.
Serious depth issues
At the start of the season, Mark Fox was pleased with his team’s depth.
I wonder how he feels about it now?
Last night was the second time this week that UGA’s second leading scorer, Yante Maten, had to sit for an extended portion of the game due to foul trouble. And when Yante sits, Georgia becomes very easy to defend, since without him they have virtually zero presence in the paint.
Prior to the start of the season, I said that Fox would need one of his freshman to step up immediately and fill the role vacated by Neme Djurisic. UGA needed someone to provide consistent scoring and rebounding at the fifth spot in the lineup.
So far, that hasn’t happened.
Collectively, Derek Ogbeide and Michael Edwards have replaced Djurisic’s rebounding and then some. Last year, Neme grabbed 5 boards a night; this season, the two frosh together are bringing in nearly 8 rebounds per game.
They haven’t filled Neme’s role as a scorer, though. Djurisc netted 11 points a contest for Fox in his senior season, yet Ogbeide and Edwards are combining for just 6.5 a game.
I understand that they are both still young, but one of them needs to become more of a scoring threat sooner rather than later because right now Georgia is just too easy to guard, especially so when Maten in on the bench.
Ogbeide has shown flashes offensively, scoring a season-high 10 points at Ole Miss in January. Last night in Waco, he had two nice post moves in the first half. However, he only played 16 minutes. Ogbeide is either not fully-conditioned to play bigger minutes, or Fox doesn’t have the confidence in him yet to give him more time on the court. If it’s the latter, I hope that Fox loosens the reigns as the season progresses because I think Ogbeide is ready for more.
Despite being generally outplayed and out rebounded for the first twenty minutes of this one, Georgia found itself trailing LSU by just 3 points heading into the locker room, the score 33-30 in favor of the Tigers. LSU struggled mightily from the perimeter before the break, missing all 7 of their attempts.
The second half was a different story, though. The Tigers found their stroke from the outside, knocking down 6 of 12 shots from beyond the arc, which fueled the LSU win.
Georgia entered tonight’s game shooting over 40% from the perimeter in conference games, yet the Bulldogs shot an abysmal 6 for 23 from the outside. Kenny Gaines and J.J. Frazier combined to shoot only 6 of 19 on the evening.
Fouls, fouls and more fouls
The referees in Baton Rouge whistled an astounding 55 fouls on Tuesday night. This game marked the second time this season that the Dawgs have played in a game in which over 50 fouls were called (63 fouls were assessed in the Chattanooga game). The game clock seemed to be moving in slow motion around the 10-minute mark of the second half, when nearly every trip down the floor resulted in a stoppage of play.
All of the fouling turned out to be more advantageous for the Tigers as they shot 55 free throws to Georgia’s 24. LSU standout Ben Simmons, who scored 22 points to go along with 14 rebounds, attempted 17 shots from the stripe himself; fortunately for UGA he only made 10 of those attempts.
Georgia’s leading scorer, Yante Maten, fouled out with over 9 minutes remaining in the contest, leaving with only 5 points in 20 minutes of play.
While LSU took more than double the free throws than UGA tonight, the Dawgs once again didn’t do themselves any favors from the line. Georgia entered this one making under 63% from the stripe in conference games, which ranks them 12 out of 14 in the league in that category. This evening, UGA once again shot below 63% on its free throws, leaving precious points on the table in a game that Georgia lost 89-85.
Teams that want to go on the road and win conference games must protect the ball.
Georgia committed 12 turnovers against LSU in Baton Rouge, which is nowhere near their highest output of the season. However, the Tigers only gave the ball away 9 times, meaning that UGA once again finished a game with a negative turnover margin. The Dawgs came into this game with the 2nd worst turnover margin in the league in SEC games at -3.1. For a team that struggles enough as it is to score points, Georgia cannot afford to give its opponents extra offensive opportunities.