Auburn blows Georgia out in 2nd half to cruise to 79-65 win

Tucker native Bryce Brown lit up the Dawgs for 28 points.

Before we even talk about that second half, consider this chilling fact: Auburn has 3 starters that are from Georgia (12-6, 3-4).  Shooting guard Bryce Brown, who scored 28 points on 5 three-pointers, is from Tucker.  Georgia’s Juwan Parker, who was the recipient of much of Brown’s abuse, probably wishes that his coach had offered the Auburn junior.  Tigers’ point guard Jared Harper had 13 points, 6 assists and 2 steals; Anfernee McLemore had 10 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks.  All of them are from the Peach State.

Here’s the box score:

Screen Shot 2018-01-20 at 8.57.58 PMScreen Shot 2018-01-20 at 8.58.14 PM

At this point, it’s still hard to believe that the first half even happened.  After building up a 40-26 lead at the break, Georgia fell to pieces coming out for the final 20 minutes of play.  Auburn switched out of its man defense and into a 1-3-1 zone, and Georgia responded by standing around a lot on offense.  The Tigers came out of the intermission firing from the perimeter as they hit 4 of 5 from beyond the arc in the first 5 minutes, and all of a sudden the Georgia lead was just 42-39.  Auburn would knock down 6 three’s in the second half and 10 in the game.  After holding the Tigers, a team averaging 83 points a game in SEC play, to just 26 points in the first 20 minutes, it was surreal to watch Bruce Pearl’s team blow the doors off Georgia in such an incredibly dominant fashion.  Auburn shot 25% in the first half, but knocked down over 58% in the second, while Georgia went from 56% from the field prior to the break to just 25% from the floor after it. UGA didn’t convert its first field goal of the second half until there was only 6:45 left to play in the game. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a team dish out a 31-4 run to start a half; I hope I never have to see such a spectacle again.

Basically, the wheels starting coming off, came off and then rolled all the way to Toomer’s Corner before Mark Fox and Georgia recognized what was happening.  Fox let his team play through the Tiger onslaught all the way to the first media timeout of the second half, despite his team being the victim of a 10-0 run. Auburn would score 15 more points to Georgia’s 2 before Fox deemed it necessary to call a timeout to try to stymie the Tigers’ momentum.  By that point, UGA’s 14-point halftime advantage had turned into a 51-44 lead for Auburn. Yante Maten, the obvious person to get the ball to when things needed to settle, only had 2 shot attempts through the first 14 minutes of the second half.  Maten wasn’t without fault, however, as he gave the ball away 3 times during that same time span and ended up with 6 turnovers on the night. Georgia’s offense stopped moving and its passes got sloppy as the Dawgs committed 13 turnovers following the break (18 in the game).  Whatever Fox’s strategy was for calming his team in this raucous atmosphere, it didn’t take. Personally, I thought the team might have benefited from a timeout on several occasions early in the second half just to slow things down a bit.

Even when Georgia held the advantage in the first half, it didn’t feel sustainable. For starters, Juwan Parker, a career 20% three-point shooter, had 3 triples and 13 points before the intermission.  UGA never looked comfortable on offense against Auburn’s man pressure, and the Dawgs certainly weren’t attacking the rim – Georgia didn’t shoot a single free throw in the first half until Hammonds took a pair with 5:01 left once the Dawgs got into the bonus.  UGA hit 7 from the stripe during this final stretch before the half which helped them add to their lead.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but once again Georgia’s guard play was inadequate, and this definitely feels like it will be the recurring theme for the remainder of the season.  Auburn, much like LSU, South Carolina and Missouri, extended its man-to-man defense and pushed the Georgia guards well outside the perimeter.  UGA’s Turtle Jackson does not possess the ball-handling skills that are necessary to put a defender on his heels and create space – that’s just not his game.  Freshman Teshaun Hightower may become that player, but he’s not there yet.  Jackson’s scoring average has dipped below double digits to 9.8 ppg, leaving Maten as the only Bulldog averaging in double-figures.  Through the first 7 SEC games, Turtle is getting only 5.3 points a night.  Jackson is seeing a lot more defensive pressure, and that trend will only continue as the Dawgs progress through their SEC slate.

When Coach Fox signed 4-stars Jordan Harris and Tyree Crump two years ago, it seemed that he had found his backcourt replacements to handle the spot that J.J. Frazier would eventually vacate.  However, neither of those guys played a whole lot last year, which might have hampered their development.  Harris’s role on the team is convoluted at best as he’s a two-guard that doesn’t like to handle the ball and can’t shoot it that well.  If Harris were 6’7″ he’d be a perfect wing a la former UGA player Brandon Morris, but alas, Jordan is just 6’4″ and stuck with the misappropriated title of “shooting guard”. Tyree Crump came into he game and scored 5 points quickly – one on a beautiful spin move that he finished at the bucket and then another on a triple.  For whatever reason, though, the sophomore only logged 8 minutes tonight.  Even when UGA couldn’t buy a bucket in the second half, Crump, who might be the second-best scorer on the team, remained on the bench.  The knock on Crump is that he doesn’t defend well and turns the ball over too much.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t that describe nearly every Georgia guard?  I’d think Crump’s scoring prowess could at least negate some of those criticisms, especially on a team that has major issues on the offensive side of the ball.

The remainder of Georgia’s SEC schedule is daunting to say the least: two games with Florida, two with #21 Tennessee, another with #17 Auburn, one at Vandy (where UGA never wins), one at South Carolina and a home game against a Texas A&M team at the end of February when the Aggies should be at full-strength and in full NCAA Tournament form.  Mark Fox’s team will be extremely fortunate to finish this season with a .500 conference record.




Rationalizing UGA’s 3 SEC losses and comparing freshman Rayshaun Hammonds to past and present UGA bigs

Reconciling UGA’s 3 conference losses by looking at the strength of the SEC

The SEC is without a doubt a much better conference today than it was five years ago.  The league currently has 10 teams in the RPI Top 50, according to  The conference had 12 recruits from the 2017 class land on the ESPN100 – no other league had more.  The SEC’s level of play has reached new heights for the conference, and ESPN analysts are projecting that as many as 8 teams could make this year’s NCAA Tournament.  In short, it’s not an easy place to play night in, night out.

All of Georgia’s losses this year – Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina – have been hard for fans to reconcile.  At Kentucky, UGA once again held a lead late into the game (up 53-49 with 5:19 remaining) only to see the Cats surge ahead and eke out the victory.  In Columbia, the Dawgs flopped and flailed on offense, and they didn’t play a whole of defense in the second half either in their loss to Missouri.  Last Saturday, Georgia’s offense was inept, and the Dawgs yielded 18 offensive boards to the Gamecocks, who rolled out of Athens with the win.

In those aforementioned games, Georgia certainly did not play anything close to its best basketball, especially on the offensive side of the court.  However, I could rationalize each of those losses as such:

Kentucky: since John Calipari took the reigns of the Wildcats, only 5 teams have won inside of Rupp Arena.  His teams have played well over 100-something games in Lexington under Coach Cal, and they’ve only lost 5 of them.

Missouri: the Tigers just knocked off #21 Tennessee at home last night.  They’ve beaten Florida at home this season, too.

South Carolina: Frank Martin’s team could be hitting its stride as they followed up their road win in Athens with a stunning upset victory at home over #18 Kentucky on Tuesday.

To be clear, I’m not making excuses for how the Dawgs played in any of these games.  For sure, Georgia needs to clean things up on offense (and possibly push the tempo), and whether they have the guards on the roster to make that happen remains to be seen.  But fans should acknowledge that these are good teams that beat Georgia, and these losses may not be as devastating in the long run as they might have felt when they occurred.

Comparing Rayshaun Hammonds to former UGA 4-star forwards and others

Rayshaun Hammonds, who started the first 16 games of the season for Georgia, was not a starter on Tuesday night in Baton Rouge.  Against the Tigers, the freshman only logged 14 minutes; he’d been averaging over 26 minutes a game prior to this one.  Logic says that Coach Fox was punishing Hammonds for his lack of effort and aggressiveness against South Carolina, a team that blanked him (though he did haul in 7 boards).

Here’s a look at Hammonds stats so far this year:


Here are the freshman year numbers for some of Georgia’s most recent 4-star bigs (and one 3-star who is still playing for the Dawgs):

Marcus Thornton (4-star)


Trey Thompkins (4-star)


Jeremy Price (4-star)


Yante Maten (3-star)



At this point, Hammonds’s stats are sitting somewhere between Maten’s and Price’s.  Maten’s jump in scoring from freshman year to sophomore year was incredible as he averaged over 16 ppg in his second year in Athens.  Price, however, never averaged in double-digits during his UGA career, but that was because Thompkins and Travis Leslie (and later Gerald Robinson, Jr.) were doing the majority of the scoring.  Next year will be a big one for both Hammonds and UGA as he will be called upon to shore up a bulk of the points that will be abandoned by Yante’s departure.

Other SEC 4-star bigs from the 2017 class

Dan Gafford (Ark): 12.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg

Jeremiah Tillman (Mizz): 8.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg

Chuma Okeke (AU): 7.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg

Rayshaun Hammonds (UGA): 6.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg

Darious Hall (Ark): 4.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg

Chase Johnson (UF): 4.3 ppg, 2 rpg

Alex Reese (Bama): 3.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg

Ejike Obinna (Vandy): 3.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg

Galen Alexander (LSU): 2.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg

Mayan Kiir (LSU): 2.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg

Derrick Walker (UT): 1.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg

Ibrahim Doumbia (SC) 0.5 ppg, 0.9 rpg

Isiah Jasey (A&M): 0.3 ppg, 0.4 rpg

Isaiah Stokes (UF): DNP

While other factors are certainly at play here (playing time, scheme, roster talent, etc.), statistically speaking, Hammonds is outperforming the majority of his 4-star forward peers.





Georgia beats Winthrop 87-82 for its 3rd win in a row

uga-basketball-winthropGeorgia’s (7-1) offense was highly efficient over the last 4 minutes of Tuesday night’s game as they got points on 7 of their final 8 possessions.  The Dawgs were able to score consistently when they needed to down the stretch, and that played a critical part in this team being able to escape with a 87-82 win over Winthrop (5-4) last night.

With the game knotted up at 74 apiece, freshman Rayshaun Hammonds broke the tie with a three from the top of the key that made it 77-74 UGA with 3:20 remaining.  The Dawgs scored their next 6 points in the paint on baskets by Mike Edwards, Yante Maten and Turtle Jackson, and those buckets turned out to be enough to keep the Eagles at bay.

Georgia’s strong play at the end of the game was a stark contrast to its play towards the end of the first half.  The Dawgs shot just 2 of 11 from the floor and committed 3 turnovers during the final 7 minutes before the break.  Despite leading 17-5 early on and holding leads of 7 to 9 points for much of the first half, UGA went into the intermission with just a 40-38 advantage.

Winthrop actually took and held the lead for significant chunks of time in the second half.  This game featured 10 lead changes, and it wasn’t until the aforementioned three-pointer from Hammonds and the subsequent run that followed it that Georgia was able to really take control of this one.  This contest definitely had the potential to be a huge letdown for the Dawgs following big wins at Saint Mary’s and Marquette, so credit UGA for taking care of business inside Stegeman and avoiding what certainly would have been a bad loss.

Georgia’s biggest issue on the night was carelessness as the Bulldogs gave the ball away 16 times, which led to 22 points for the Winthrop Eagles.  When Georgia wasn’t giving the ball to Winthrop, they played pretty sound offense: 53% from the field, 53% from 3PT line and 17 assists.  Georgia’s success from beyond the arc might have been the difference in this one with Maten and Turtle Jackson hitting 3 each, and Hammonds knocking down 2 triples.

Maten and Winthrop’s Xavier Cooks had quite the back and forth battle on offense on Tuesday night.  The Eagles made a couple of defensive decisions regarding Maten that turned out to be quite costly: they left him open for 3’s from the top of the key, and they tried to play him one-on-one in the paint.  Yante took full advantage of both of those coaching choices and scored 25 points and grabbed 11 boards for his 4th double-double of the year.

Winthrop’s Cooks netted a game-high 31 points himself (22 of them coming after halftime).  At 6’8″, Cooks was a matchup nightmare for Georgia due to his ability to get into the lane off the dribble; he only made 2 of 11 from the floor prior to the break, but he found his rhythm once the second half kicked off.

Georgia began this game extending its man defense to the perimeter to limit Winthrop’s looks from the three-point time, and it worked for about 16 minutes as the Eagles had just 1 triple. However, Winthrop, a team that entered this game making nearly twelve 3’s a night, buried 3 shots from beyond the arc during the final 4 minutes of the first half; they finished the game with 8 three-pointers on a 42% shooting effort.

UGA’s perimeter defense continues to be a soft spot for this team.  The Dawgs’ backcourt has had trouble keeping opposing teams from driving by and getting into the lane for easy baskets.  Tonight, Winthrop carved Georgia up for 40 points in the paint, which is far too many considering UGA’s size advantage compared to the Eagles.

The Bulldogs ended up with four other players – Jackson (14), Mike Edwards (11), Rayshaun Hammonds (10), Derek Ogbeide (10) – in double-figures along with Maten.  Turtle had a game-high 7 assists to go long with his points.

The Dawgs have a 10-day layoff during Final Exams before returning to action on December 16th when Georgia travels to take on UMass.


Georgia upends #21 Saint Mary’s to earn 3rd place in the Wooden Legacy

William “Turtle” Jackson willed in a pair of free throws to give his team an 83-79 lead with just 16 seconds remaining, and that buffer was enough to hold off Saint Mary’s as the Gaels failed to score quickly on the ensuing possession; center Jock Landale got a bucket, but only 1 second remained on the clock, and Georgia ended up knocking off the #21 team in the nation 83-81 in overtime for its first win against a ranked opponent in two years (#25 South Carolina).

The Bulldogs used the off day in Fullerton on Saturday to totally reinvent themselves offensively as Mark Fox’s team didn’t resemble anything of the squad that lost to San Diego State and just snuck by Cal State-Fullerton.  Georgia worked the ball inside to its bigs from the start and scored 16 of its 28 points in the paint prior to the break.  The Dawgs took shots earlier in possessions, and they only turned it over 9 times in 45 minutes of play, while dishing out 14 team assists.  Georgia shot over 50% from the floor and made more than 41% of its attempts from beyond the arc.  The Dawgs had five players finish in double-figures with Tyree Crump leading UGA with a career-high 17 points (Yante Maten finished with 16).

The Dawgs weren’t the only ones enjoying being on offense as the Gaels turned in a nice effort themselves in the game that defense forgot.  Saint Mary’s shot over 50% from the floor, but that’s to be expected when a team scores 58 of its points in the paint.  Georgia’s Derek Ogbeide was left on an island to deal with All-American Jock Landale, and that strategy did not pan out well for Ogbeide as Landale torched UGA for 33 points to go along with his 12 boards.  I kept expecting for Fox to switch his team into a zone so that he could give Ogbeide some help inside, but it never happened.  Landale enjoyed an array of one-on-one situations on the block in which he peppered the Georgia bigs with a combination of hook shots and up-and-under moves.

UGA also struggled to corral Saint Mary’s point guard, Emmet Naar, who got into the lane all afternoon en route to 21 points (12 of which came prior to the break).

Aside from the less than stellar defense, credit the Bulldogs for never backing down in a game against a potential NCAA Tournament team.  The Dawgs held a 35-34 advantage at the half; Georgia pushed its lead out to 58-50 with a little over 11 minutes left in regulation following a three-pointer by Tyree Crump, only to see that lead vanish down the stretch.  UGA actually trailed the Gaels 69-67 with 3:06 remaining, but a clutch jumper by Juwan Parker (14 points) and an incredibly strong take by Turtle Jackson (15 points) on the Dawgs’ final possession allowed UGA to push Saint Mary’s to overtime.

The biggest and most obvious takeaway from this tournament has to be the emergence of Turtle as a legitimate scoring threat and key part of the offense.  Jackson averaged 16 points over the past three games, and I can’t imagine the junior is excited to leave Fullerton after making 47% of his three-point attempts in the Titans’ gym.

Nicolas Claxton has also turned out to be a nice early-season surprise for the Dawgs as he is long and incredibly active off the bench.  Claxton played 20 minutes today, and though he wasn’t quite as productive (3 pts, 3 rebs, 2 blocks) as last game, he is constantly around the ball and really attacks the glass.  I realize that Mike Edwards was dealing with some food poison related issues this past weekend, but it’s hard to not see him yielding minutes to the freshman moving forward.

This win comes at the heels of a pair of underwhelming performances in the Wooden Legacy tournament, and it has to give this Georgia team a spark of confidence that it most desperately needs as Mark Fox’s team comes home to prepare for another challenge away from Athens when they play at Marquette as the undercard to next Saturday’s SEC Championship game.



Georgia overcomes sluggish 1st half to advance past California State-Fullerton

Georgia’s Yante Maten, who had missed over 9 minutes in the first half and had just 2 points well into the second, chose an opportune time to come alive in the Dawgs’ match up with the California State-Fullerton (CSF) Titans.  Maten broke a 43-43 tie with a free throw and just 6:25 remaining; he then proceeded to score 10 more of his 15 points over the next 4-plus minutes in what turned out to be a key 12-6 UGA run that was capped off by a three-pointer by Yante from the top of the key.  With its biggest lead of the game, Georgia managed to salt away this contest from the free throw line to secure the 64-57 win, which pushed UGA’s record out to 4-0 overall.

Coming off a 24-turnover effort against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi last Sunday, the Georgia offense once again look rather pedestrian.  For much of the night, the Titans ran a zone that extended out beyond the three-point line in an effort to hamper UGA’s ability to get comfortable and pound the ball inside to its bigs.  Georgia’s guards seemed content to either dribble the ball or pass it around the top of the Titan zone, which resulted in numerous turnovers and hurried looks as the shot clock melted away.  In the first half, UGA shot under 31% from the floor and turned the ball over 11 times, and that carelessness led to 11 points for CSF, who held a 27-21 lead at the break.

Georgia’s inability to get into its offense against extended pressure is disconcerting.  Last night’s game exposed just how much the Dawgs are going to miss J.J. Frazier, who would have blown by the Titan perimeter players and attacked the basket, which after a few times would have forced them to retreat out of the zone.  UGA doesn’t have a guard this year that can put a defense on its heels, and it’s certainly the glaring weakness of this team thus far.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Dawgs offensively as they cleaned up their act somewhat after the intermission.  Mark Fox’s team shot the ball much better in the second half (58%) and they only gave the ball away 4 times.  A major catalyst for Georgia’s second half resurgence was Turtle Jackson, who scored 14 of his career-high 16 points following the break.  For the fourth consecutive game, Jackson hit 2 shots from beyond the arc, and his second three-pointer was particularly important for UGA as it brought the Dawgs to within 1 with a little over 10 minutes left to play (nearly wiping out a 37-31 CSF advantage).

Georgia put forth a fairly strong defensive effort on Thursday, especially in the second half when Mark Fox put his team into several different zone looks.  After a layup by CSF’s Davon Clare that gave the Titans a 39-35 lead with 10:40 left, Georgia held Fullerton without a field goal for nearly 8 minutes before Kyle Allman buried a three-pointer to make it 49-48 Georgia with 2:47 remaining.  Other than the fact that UGA allowed Allman to net 34 points, the Dawgs kept the Titans in check for much of the night as they limited them to under 36% from the field.  The Bulldogs bigs did an excellent job on the defensive glass as they yielded just 5 offensive boards to the Titans and only 2 second-chance points.

UGA will take on the San Diego State Aztecs in the second round of the Wooden Legacy in what will easily be the Dawgs’ biggest challenge of the year to date.  SDSU, who destroyed Sacramento State 89-52 in the first round, is a veteran-laden team that will get after Georgia defensively in a way the Dawgs haven’t seen yet this season.  Even though the Bulldogs are 4-0 on the year, they will have to play better than they have been if they want to advance in the winner’s bracket of the Wooden Legacy tournament.


Georgia struggles once again to put away a lesser opponent

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s (TAMCC) Joseph Kilgore tried to tie the game at 68 with a last-second three-point attempt, but fortunately for Coach Mark Fox’s sanity he missed, which was surprising considering Kilgore basically made everything he tossed up in the second half as he scored 20 of his game-high 22 points.

In a game in which Georgia held leads of 19-2 and 27-8, the Dawgs found themselves once again fighting for their lives against a mediocre mid-major team late into the second half.  The Islanders came into the season without the services of its senior point guard Ehab Amin, who averaged over 18 points a game last year as well as leading the nation in steals.  I shudder to think what the outcome of today’s contest might have been had Amin not been injured.  TAMCC, a team that Ken Pomeroy deems to be 256th in the nation, nearly upset Mark Fox’s team with three freshmen in its starting lineup.

UGA got it’s third win of the season to push its record to 3-0 on the year, but it was not pretty.  In todays’ 68-65 victory, the Dawgs turned the ball over 24 times in a game that featured a combined 43 turnovers by both teams.  TAMCC capitalized on the Dawgs’ carelessness as they ended up with 28 points off of the UGA mishaps.  After shooting only 25% prior to the intermission, the Islanders hit nearly 60% of their attempts in the second half.

Even though we are just three games into the young season, it’s hard to determine this Georgia team’s identity.  At first glance, the Dawgs look like a team that should be able to dominate the paint night in-night out with its imposing frontline of Yante Maten, Rayshaun Hammonds and Derek Ogbeide.  For some reason though, UGA is struggling to take advantage of its bigs.  Today, many of Georgia’s turnovers were a result of sloppy entry passes; when the ball did make it in there, UGA’s big men struggled to get the ball up to the glass.

Yante Maten led the way on offense with 19 points to go with 13 rebounds for his 3rd double-double in as many games, but his effort was overshadowed by his game-high 7 turnovers.  The TAMCC Islanders swarmed Maten whenever he received the ball inside, and Yante did not handle the pressure well.  Maten either was indecisive, which resulted in him being double- and triple-teamed, or he tried to force passes through the lane that had no business being attempted.

Compounding UGA’s problem of not being able to force its will in the paint on offense is the Dawgs’s proclivity for putting up shots from beyond the arc at a high rate.  Georgia has taken over 20 three-pointers in each of its first three games, and that feels like far too many perimeter shots for a team that is shooting just 31% from long range.  The Dawgs shot 23% from the three-point line this afternoon; Tyree Crump made only 1 of his 8 attempts.

Aside from Maten’s 19 points, the only other Bulldog to finish in double-figures was the freshman Hammonds, who netted 15 points, including a pair of three-pointers.  Had Fox not been able to sign Hammonds, this team might have struggled to end the year with a winning record.  The UGA freshman is clearly Georgia’s second most important player, and he may eventually become the go-to guy in crunch time this season as he seems to be the best player on this squad at creating his own shot.

Georgia got all it could handle earlier this week from USC Upstate, a team that Pomeroy ranks 280th.  I wanted to label that game as an early season anomaly, but after watching today’s contest I’m starting to worry that it’s closer to the norm than I could have possibly anticipated.  Mark Fox lauded this year’s team as his deepest and most talented yet, but so far they haven’t played that way.  Georgia heads out to California this week to take part in the Wooden Classic.  Their first round opponent, Cal State-Fullerton, is another mid-major opponent, but they will be better than anyone UGA’s faced thus far.  Should the Dawgs get by CSF they will most likely see the the defensived-minded San Diego State Aztecs in the second round, where Fox’s team could be in store for quite the reality check.

Georgia squeaks by USC Upstate

The USC Upstate Spartans’ scheme on Tuesday was rather simple: (1) get up as many three-pointers on offense has humanly possible and (2) sit in a packed in zone defense and force the opposition to beat them from the outside.

On Tuesday night, the Spartans, a team that had shot over 30 three’s in its first two games, hoisted up 36 attempts from beyond the arc.  To be fair, Upstate started and played with four guards for pretty much the whole game, which is probably also why the undersized Spartans were content to play zone against the Dawgs to try to minimize Georgia’s size advantage in the paint.

Unfortunately, UGA played an undisciplined game offensively, and it almost resulted in a horrific home loss.  I suppose the Dawgs got jealous of the outside shots that Upstate was taking, and they just couldn’t resist shooting a few themselves as Mark Fox’s team put up 22 three-pointers in this contest (making  only 5 of them).  Shooting three’s was exactly what Upstate wanted Georgia to do; it’s why they played zone for most of the night.  For whatever reason, UGA seemed reluctant to pound the ball into the paint and punish the smaller Atlantic Sun team, and rather, the Dawgs obliged the Upstate game plan.

Georgia’s futility on the offensive side of the ball almost cost them dearly as the Spartans took their first lead of the game with 13:02 left on a three by Deion Holmes.  Upstate would lead for nearly the next 8 minutes until Rayshaun Hammonds seized momentum back for the Dawgs when he knocked down a corner three to put his team on top 60-59.  The freshman scored on a fast break on the ensuing possession, which gave UGA a 62-59 advantage with 3:39 remaining.  Georgia managed to slowly pull away from that point, and they would end up with the 74-65 home win.

Hammonds had another solid outing as he netted 13 points and nabbed 7 boards.  William “Turtle” Jackson also finished in double-figures as he scored a career high 13 points to go along with 4 assists.  Turtle has now hit 4 three-pointers through two games, and he’s looking like the team’s most consistent outside threat in the early going.

Georgia’s defense wasn’t the problem in this one as the Dawgs held Upstate to 65 points, which marked its lowest output of the season.  UGA limited the Spartans to under 37% from the floor and just 27% from beyond the arc.  The Dawgs played primarily man defense with Coach Fox mixing in some 2-3 and matchup zones.  For the most part, though, Georgia followed the scouting report and contested the perimeter to make it more difficult for USC Upstate to get clean looks.

UGA jumped on Upstate early as they started the game with a 13-2 run that was capped off by a three-pointer from Yante Maten, who notched his second double-double in as many games as he scored 22 points and grabbed 14 boards.  Coach Fox’s offense went moderately stagnant over the next 16 minutes as they settled for too many outside shots, which enabled the Spartans to go into the intermission trailing by a scored of 34-30.

The Dawgs came out of the break and took their first five shots from inside the paint; UGA made 4 of those attempts and found themselves up 42-33 after a Mike Edwards layup with over 17 minutes left in the game.  Georgia didn’t stick with this strategy of going inside, though, and Fox’s team made only 1 of their 9 second half three-point attempts.

The Spartans had four players end up in double-figures with Mike Cunningham and Malik Moore leading the way with 16 points apiece.

The Dawgs return to action on Sunday to continue this early season stretch down Murder’s Row as they play host to Texas A&M – Corpus Christi inside The Steg at 1pm.