Dawgs knock Missy State off NCAA bubble, advance to the second round

Following Jalen Steele’s fourth three-pointer, Georgia’s lead, which had once been 13 points, had evaporated to just a 60-57 advantage with 3:50 remaining in the game.

On the ensuing possession, Donte Williams shot missed, but thankfully for Georgia, Nemanja Djurisic was in position to secure his fifth offensive rebound and finish the stick-back.

Nemi then got fouled by Mississippi State after forcing a steal, and he calmly stepped up to the free throw line and knocked down both shots, putting his team up 64-57 with only 1:38 left.

Georgia was able to secure the victory from this point, walking away from the first round of the SEC tournament with a 71-61 win over Mississippi State (their second of the season).

Neme, who recorded his second 10+ rebounding effort in as many days, finished the game with 11 points and 12 rebounds.

He was one of five Bulldogs to end the game in double-figures with Gerald Robinson, Jr. leading the charge with 23 points.  Robinson once again played like an All-SEC guard, despite not receiving any post-season conference accolades.

Georgia found themselves in a bit of a hole in the first half after allowing State to go on an 18-8 run that put them up 23-15 with 7:06 remaining before intermission.

However, the Dawgs responded with a 16-6 run of their own, enabling them to take a 31-29 advantage into the break.

The game was knotted up pretty tight to start the second half until senior Dustin Ware, who was held scoreless in the first half, decided to start contributing in a big-time manner.  Ware caught fire from the outside, canning 3 threes and scoring 11 points in less than five minutes, stretching his team’s lead to 49-36 at the 11:53 mark.  The senior guard ended up with 13 points on the night.

Defensively, Georgia was able to once again lock Missy State down, limiting them to under 39% from the floor and just 29% from beyond the arc.  The Dawgs‘ interior defense was particularly strong, holding Arnette Moultrie and Renardo Sidney to a combined 11 points on 4 of 13 shooting from the floor.

MSU senior guard Dee Bost, who wound up with only 10 points, shot a frigid 2 of 9 from beyond the arc (which marks the 4th game this year his team has lost when he has tossed up 8 or more three-point attempts).

Congratulations to Coach Mark Fox and the Georgia basketball team for putting forth an excellent effort in tonight’s game as well as getting themselves into the second round of the SEC tournament, where they will meet the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Vandy swept the Bulldogs this year for the second consecutive season, largely in part due to the performance of junior All-SEC guard John Jenkins.  Jenkins has been somewhat of a Dawg-killer throughout his career, averaging nearly 21 points in games against UGA and enabling Vandy to rack up six-straight wins over Georgia.

If Coach Mark Fox’s team wants to keep the momentum rolling into the weekend then they must find a way to contain the Vandy guard.

Georgia takes on Mississippi State in Thursday’s night cap (10pm)

On February 10th of this year, Mississippi State was ranked #23 in the country and boasted a record of 19-5.

One day later the Maroon Dogs would be upset in overtime by the Georgia Bulldogs (14-16; 5-11), a loss that sent MSU on a five-game losing streak that nearly knocked them off the NCAA Tournament Bubble.  Luckily for Coach Rick Stansbury his team was able to somewhat right the ship, securing much-needed victories over South Carolina and Arkansas to wrap up their conference schedule.

According to ESPN College Basketball “Bubble Watch” blogger Eamonn Brennan, “a first-round loss to Georgia on Thursday could spell trouble”.  Motivation anybody?

Coach Mark Fox’s team drew probably the worst-possible opponent of the SEC teams that will be playing on Thursday in Mississippi State.  The Maroon Dogs have a serious size advantage on Georgia, they need a win to put themselves in a position to earn an at-large bid to the Big Dance, and they will surely be out to avenge the loss from earlier in the season.

These aforementioned reasons probably account for why “Losing to Missy State” was the most popular reader-response (over 44%) to a poll I posed earlier in the week asking – “How far do you see the Georgia Bulldogs going in this week’s SEC Tournament?”.

The odds-makers in Las Vegas agree, setting UGA as a 5-point underdog.

In the first meeting  between these two teams, Coach Mark Fox’s squad utilized a match-up zone to limit 6’11” Arnett Moultrie’s looks at the basket.  This strategy worked to perfection as Georgia held the junior to 12 points – 4 below his season average – and just 6 field goal attempts.  Moultrie, who led the conference in rebounding at 10.2 per SEC contest, found his groove over the past two games though, averaging 17.5 points and 11 boards in the wins over USC and Arky.

MSU is led in the backcourt by senior guard Dee Bost, who put together another excellent SEC season, netting 15.8 points and a league-leading 6.1 assists in conference games (and he knocked down 37% of his three-point attempts).

In the loss to UGA, Bost got 21 points, but he tossed up 10 three-pointers (of which he hit only 3) en route to that total.  Mississippi State lost all three SEC games this year in which Bost hoisted up 8 or more threes.

If Georgia can again limit Moultrie’s touches inside, they may entice Bost into a few extra perimeter shots (again) that he might not normally take.

Missy State finished 5th in SEC games in offensive production at nearly 69 points per game.  However, the Maroon Dogs were only 3-6 in conference games in which they failed to eclipse 70 points (they only scored 68 in OT against Georgia).

Defensively, Georgia yielded just 64.4 points per contest, ranking them 6th in the league in that category.  Again, if Coach Mark Fox’s team can get after MSU on defense they will certainly have an opportunity to hang around in this game.

The play I remember most from the February 11 game between these two teams was the step-back three-pointer that freshman Kentavious-Caldwell Pope made with only 68 seconds remaining that put Georgia back on top 68-66 after they had just relinquished the lead to MSU on a three.  This shot by KCP was absolutely huge, and it enabled the Dawgs to close out the game and secure the victory.

The Bulldogs were 3-3 (which is pretty darn good for a team that finished 5-11 in conference) in SEC games this season when KCP scored 18 points or more.

I know Gerald Robinson, Jr. is going to play well tomorrow night because for the most part he has played superb all season.

Even though Thursday will be young KCP’s first SEC Tournament game, his performance in it will be the difference in whether Georgia’s season ends tomorrow night, or if the Dawgs will play into the weekend.

Georgia ends season on a high note, beats South Carolina in Athens

Gerald Robinson, Jr. showed up and (once again) played his heart out for the Georgia Bulldogs (14-16; 5-11) on “Senior Day”, scoring a game-high 23 points, marking the fifth time this season he has eclipsed 20 points in a game.

The Dawgs were able to even up the season series with South Carolina, winning 67-55 this afternoon in Athens.

Georgia began its second-straight game down 7-0 to an opponent, and they actually allowed the Gamecocks to open up a 10-0 advantage with 13:33 remaining before the intermission.  The Bulldogs‘ inauspicious offensive start might have had something to do with the fact that due to the Senior Day traditions, Coach Mark Fox had Matt Bucklin and Conner Nolte starting in place of Kentavious-Caldwell Pope and Marcus Thornton.  Whatever the reason, the Dawgs missed their first 8 field goal attempts and were held scoreless until Gerald Robinson, Jr. broke the drought with a fast break lay-up after nearly 8 minutes of play.

Robinson ignited the Georgia offense, scoring 13 points prior to picking up his second personal foul with 3:31 left before the break.  GR2 banged down 3 three-pointers in the half, the third of which gave UGA its first lead of the afternoon at 22-21.

The Dawgs closed out the half on a 13-2 run, taking a 30-23 advantage into the intermission.

After the break, Malik Cooke hit a jumper at the 15:10 mark that completed an 8-2 Carolina run, cutting the Georgia lead to just two points at 35-33.

However, the Dawgs immediately responded with a 14-2 run of their own, and 7 minutes later UGA was up 49-35 following a pair of Donte Williams free throws.

The game wasn’t quite in hand at this point, though, as the Gamecocks had one more mini-run in them.  Cooke buried a three-pointer that actually brought the score to 53-47, but on the next play Bruce Ellington committed a flagrant foul on Dustin Ware, who made both of the free throw attempts.  Two plays later GR2 took the ball the length of the floor and scored, pushing the UGA advantage back out to double-digits.

The Dawgs were essentially able to salt away the remainder of the game at this point, ending the season with a victory.

Aside from Robinson, no other Bulldog reached double-figures in the scoring column, yet five Georgia players netted 6 points or more in this somewhat balanced offensive attack.

Nemanja Djurisic was one of those 6-point scorers, and he also led all rebounders with a career-best 10 boards.

Kentavious-Caldwell Pope, who only scored 8 points on 3 of 7 shooting from the floor, found other ways to contribute for his team by securing 7 rebounds and creating 3 steals.

Georgia finishes the SEC slate at 5-11, which is fairly respectable considering the Dawgs were 1-7 through the first half of the conference schedule.  Coach Mark Fox’s team was able to improve throughout the season, winning 4 of their final 8 SEC contests.

The Dawgs, who will be an 11-seed in the SEC Tournament, could get either Mississippi State, Ole Miss or Arkansas in the first round  next week, depending on how those teams’ games shake out this afternoon.

I, for one, can honestly admit that I did not believe that this UGA team would reach 5 SEC victories after starting out 1-7 in league games.  I am proud of how this team finished out the season, and I hope that we can all get to see Gerald Robinson, Jr. and Dustin Ware play well into next weekend.

Georgia wraps up SEC season at home against South Carolina

During the 2009-2010 season – Mark Fox’s first year as the Dawgs’ coach – Georgia (13-16; 4-11) won five conference games, reinvigorating a UGA basketball fan base that had seen the previous team win three SEC games the year before (and just four the year before that).  Georgia’s future looked awful bright with the superstar sophomore duo of Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie returning for their junior seasons.

The 2010-2011 season put Georgia basketball back on the college map as the Dawgs went 9-7 in the SEC and earned at at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

This season – Coach Fox’s third as head coach – has been slightly more tumultuous, with Georgia sporting a 4-11 conference record, just one spot above Saturday’s opponent – South Carolina – in the conference standings.

However, should the Dawgs hold serve and win this game in Stegeman, Georgia would once again finish with five conference wins, equaling the number from two years ago.

How in the world has this season’s UGA team managed to put themselves in a position to win as many SEC contests as a team that featured Thompkins, Leslie, Jeremy Price, Chris Barnes and Albert Jackson?

The answer, my Bulldog basketball friends, is senior Gerald Robinson, Jr.

GR2 was the missing piece from the 2009-2010 season that enabled Georgia to get over the hump and into the NCAA tournament last year.  If the Dawgs did not have the explosive Tennesse native running the show throughout the 2010-2011 campaign, then they most certainly would have played in the NIT.

This season Robinson has hoisted this Bulldog team on his back and willed them to victories over Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Florida, and he has kept them in a number of games that they would have been blown out in without him.

In conference games this year, GR2 is netting 14.1 points, 4.1 assists and nearly 5 rebounds a night.  He has more than lived up to his Preseason All-SEC Second-Team hype, and he is certainly deserving of some end-of-season SEC accolades.

On Saturday, Georgia will ask GR2 to do what he has done in all three previous match-ups with South Carolina – shut down point guard Bruce Ellington.

Ellington is enjoying another successful SEC season, scoring 11.9 points and dishing out 3.6 assists in league games.  However, if there is one guy in this league that has had his number the last two seasons it has been Gerald Robinson.  In three games against the Bulldogs’ senior point guard, Ellington has accumulated a total of just 16 points on 6 of 32 shooting from the floor.

Another similar defensive performance on Ellington by Robinson on Saturday and Georgia should be in good shape, assuming the team that shows up tomorrow has a bit more energy than the one that lost 57-56 in Columbia last month.

Despite the fact that the Dawgs are coming off of a sound whipping in Lexington, and they will be playing on just thirty-something hours of rest, I expect to see a resilient effort out of Coach Mark Fox’s team tomorrow as they pursue their fifth SEC victory.

Georgia needs a win tomorrow in the worst way so that they can avoid being swept by 2-win South Carolina, earn their 5th conference win, shake off Thursday night’s debacle and finally, give themselves a bit of positive momentum heading into next week’s conference tournament.

Kentucky buries Georgia 79-49 in Rupp

The Georgia Bulldogs (13-16; 4-11) have slowly progressed over the season, improving ever so slightly, game by game.

Kentucky, however, has gotten A LOT better since the last time these two teams met in Athens.

The game seemed over from the start, with Kentucky opening up a 7-0 advantage prior to Coach Mark Fox’s first timeout 17:25 into the first half.

Before Georgia knew what had hit them the Wildcats had built up a 37-19 lead, due largely in part to the fact that Kentucky knocked down 6 three-pointers before the break.  It didn’t help matters that in the first half the Dawgs were an icy 8 for 27 from the floor.

Things only got worse for the Bulldogs after the intermission as the Cats sank 9 more shots from beyond the arc, where they finished the game above 55%.  At one point in the second half, Kentucky connected on 7 consecutive three-pointers which put them up 72-31 with 9:41 left to play.

This perimeter onslaught from the Wildcats was unbearable to watch, and after the smoke had finally cleared Coach Calipari’s team had cruised out of Rupp Arena with a 79-49 victory.

Once again, Georgia was lit up by senior guard Darius Miller, who led all Wildcat scorers with 17 points.

Sophomore Donte Williams was the one and only bright spot for UGA, leading his team with 17 points to go along with 6 rebounds.  Williams was relentless on the offensive glass, throwing down a multitude of put-back dunks off of his teammates’ misses.

The Dawgs obviously did not match-up well on paper with this #1 Kentucky team heading into the game, and shooting 33% from the floor and just 3 for 19 from beyond the arc certainly didn’t help.

Georgia was carted into Rupp arena on a serving platter as huge underdogs, and they definitely played their part in the blowout loss in Lexington on Thursday.

Hopefully Coach Fox’s team can regroup quickly so that they will be prepared to take on South Carolina in Athens this Saturday, a game that UGA must win if they hope to stay out of the SEC cellar.

Dawgs hold lead for nearly entire game, beat Gators 76-62

The Georgia Bulldogs (13-15; 4-10) knocked off another ranked team on Saturday, besting the #12 Florida Gators in Athens 76-62 inside Stegeman Coliseum.

The Dawgs held a double-digit lead for much of the second half until the wheels appeared to be coming off for Coach Mark Fox’s team in the closing minutes of the game.  Following a Kenny Boynton three-pointer, the Gators had cut the Georgia lead to only 67-62 with just 1:53 remaining.

On the Bulldogs‘ ensuing possession, Georgia held the ball for nearly 30 seconds before Gerald Robinson, Jr. made a move towards the basket.  Robinson, however, lost the ball off on a deflected pass, which eventually ended up near the half court line.  Fortunately for Georgia, Florida’s Bradley Beal fouled Dustin Ware as he was going for the ball with only a few ticks left on the shot clock.  Ware calmly stepped up to the free throw line and buried both shots, putting his team up by three possessions at 69-62.

If Beal doesn’t foul Ware on that play, Georgia most surely turns the ball over on the expired shot clock, giving Florida the ball with a chance to cut the game down to one possession.

This moment was definitely a critical part in the game, but for the most part the afternoon belonged to UGA.  The Gators never held a lead in this game, shooting a dismal 36.7% from the floor and scoring only 62 points (nearly 9 below their conference average).

The Dawgs played inspired defense for the full 40 minutes, holding Florida to just 5 three-pointers on 23 attempts.

Offensively, it seemed as if Georgia could do no wrong.  The Bulldogs shot nearly 53% from the field, making big shot after big shot.  It felt as though every time the Gators started to edge closer, Dustin Ware would hit a step-back three or Neme Djurisic would get a stick-back lay-up.

The Bulldogs saw five players reach double-figures today, with Kentavious-Caldwell Pope leading the charge with 18 points.

Gerald Robinson played one of his best games ever as a Bulldog (in my opinion), scoring 15 points and dishing out a game-high 7 assists.  Robinson ignited the offense this afternoon, providing resilient leadership on the court against a highly-ranked SEC opponent.

On the block, Neme Djurisic and Donte Williams stepped up and scored 12 and 11 points, respectively.  Neme finished with a team-high 7 boards and Williams blocked 6 – yes 6 – Florida shots.  The Georgia bigs also showed up on the defensive end as well, holding Patrick Young and Erik Murphy to just 10 combined points.

Last, but certainly not least, I have to throw a big-time bone to senior Dustin Ware, who scored 11 points to go along with 6 assists.  Ware started the game on the bench due to his recent offensive woes, yet once the ball tipped off he transformed back into the solid contributor that he has been throughout his career as a Bulldog.

Ware canned a monster step-back three-pointer with 7:42 left in the game that ended a 7-0 Florida run, extending the Georgia lead back out to 61-49.  He also forced a steal and made 5 of 6 free throw attempts in the games final 3 minutes, playing a critical role in helping his team close out the victory.

I also have to give a lot of credit to Coach Fox and the Georgia coaching staff.  In the last 10 minutes of this contest the Bulldogs did an excellent job maximizing the shot clock, which in turn limited the number of Florida offensive possessions.

For me personally, the best part of the day came towards the end of the game when all the loud and boisterous Florida fans began an early mass exodus of Stegeman Coliseum before the final horn sounded.

This Georgia team continues to remain somewhat of an enigma with surprising wins over teams like Florida, Notre Dame and Mississippi State, and disappointing losses to Auburn and South Carolina.

The Dawgs conference record improves to 4-10 following the win over Florida, pitting them in a tie with the Auburn Tigers for 10th in the conference.   Auburn has remaining games at Alabama and then against LSU – they could easily lose both – meaning that if Georgia could knock off South Carolina at home next weekend they would secure the 10-seed in the conference tournament.  This would match the Dawgs up with either Arkansas, Missy State, Ole Miss or even LSU – all of which are winnable games for UGA.

I know that I promised after the Vanderbilt game not to mention the NIT Tournament again this season, but if Georgia could muster a couple of wins in the conference tournament – might they receive a selection?

Georgia gets #12 Florida in Athens today at 4:00PM

The Georgia Bulldogs (12-15; 3-10) relationship with the #12 Florida Gators on the hard court is beginning to become eerily similar to the connection that the Dawgs share with the Gators on the football field (in that Florida wins nearly every time).

The Bulldogs have dropped 15 of the last 17 basketball games to Florida, making this match-up particularly one-sided.

According to the odds makers in Las Vegas, who slotted the Gators as an 8-point favorite, this trend of Florida domination should continue today in Stegeman.

Coach Billy Donovan’s Gators have been an offensive juggernaut in SEC play this season, scoring over 70 points per contest.  Florida has been especially strong from beyond the arc, where they are connecting on 38.1% of their attempts and making a league-leading 9.2 three-pointers per game.

The Gators may have the most complete backcourt in the country, led by junior Kenny Boynton, freshman Bradley Beal and senior Erving Walker.  All three members of this guard trio are netting double-digits on a nightly basis in conference play, with Boynton and Beal leading the way with 15.4 ppg and 14.6 ppg, respectively.  Boynton, who is enjoying his best season yet as a Gator, has made over 40% of this three-point attempts in league games this year.

Coach Mark Fox’s Bulldog team needs to defend the perimeter well this afternoon in an effort to limit Florida’s backcourt from lighting them up.  Fortunately, three-point defense has been somewhat of a strength for this Georgia team as they have held opposing SEC squads to under 33% on threes, ranking them 5th in the conference in that category.

Florida won the first contest between these two teams back in early January, burying Georgia 70-48 in the O’Connell Center.  In that game, the Dawgs held Florida to 7 of 21 shooting from beyond the arc and matched the Gators with 31 rebounds.  Just hearing those two statistics might leave Bulldog fans wondering how Georgia lost by so many points.

The big difference in that game came at the free throw line, where Georgia went an unsightly 1 for 9, while Florida canned 15 of 18 attempts.

One unfortunate symptom that has emerged this year, resulting from Georgia’s lack of an inside game, is that the Bulldogs are not getting to the charity stripe.  In the entire Division I of the NCAA there are only 23 teams out of 337 that are attempting less free throws than Georgia.

In SEC play, the Dawgs are only tossing up 14 free throws per game, pitting them at 11th in the conference (just above South Carolina).  To make matters worse, when Georgia does get to the line they are only making 68% of their attempts, which is 9th in the SEC.

I’m not sure if there is a cure for the Dawgs this season in regards to getting more free throw attempts, but hopefully it will be a major focal point for the UGA bigs in the off-season.

The recipe for a Georgia upset today lies in their ability to make three-pointers, which should come as no surprise to any UGA basketball fan.  The Dawgs have shot over 40% from beyond the arc just three times in league play this year – Tennessee, Arkansas, Missy State – and they won two of those games.

The perimeter game needs to start with freshman Kentavious-Caldwell Pope, who has been mired in a terrible slump over the past three games, averaging just 8.3 points while shooting 27% from the field and 15% on three-point attempts.

KCP has to find a way to put the ball in the basket because senior Gerald Robinson, Jr. cannot keep providing all the offense for Coach Fox’s team.  Georgia’s recent three-game skid has somewhat overshadowed the fact that GR2 has been playing his tail off, netting nearly 16 points to go along with 5.3 boards, 3.3 assists and 2.3 steals during that same stretch.  Against both Vandy and South Carolina, Robinson was the only Bulldog to finish the game in double-figures.

If a couple of Bulldogs were to step up and provide some much-needed offensive support to Robinson, then it is not out of the realm of possibilities that the fans in Stegeman could be treated to an afternoon upset.

Dawgs drop another SEC game, losing to LSU 61-53

Georgia’s Donte Willams made a free throw to complete an old-fashioned three-point play, which brought his team to within 3 points, cutting the LSU lead to 45-42 with just 6:52 remaining in the game.

The Tigers responded with back-to-back threes from Andre Stringer and Ralston Turner, and following a pair of free throws from Justin Hamilton they were back on top 53-44 a little over two minutes later.

LSU made 8 of its next 12 free throw attempts which was enough to keep Georgia (12-15; 3-10) at bay, securing the 61-53 SEC home win (their 7th of the season).

Sophomore Andre Stringer hit a number of big shots from beyond the arc Wednesday night, connecting on 4 of 9 attempts and leading all scorers for both teams with 18 points.  All night it seemed as if just as UGA was about to make a run to close the gap, Stringer would can a timely three to shut down any thoughts of a Bulldog run.

Georgia got out to an atrocious start in this game, missing their first 3 field goal attempts and turning the ball over 2 times in less than three minutes of play.  After the dust had cleared, the Dawgs found themselves trailing the Tigers 10-0.

UGA was unable to recover from this initial deficit, playing the entire game from behind.  Coach Mark Fox’s team couldn’t tie the score once in Baton Rouge, let alone take an advantage over LSU.   The closest Georgia got all night was on the aforementioned Donte Williams old-fashioned three-point play.

Coach Fox kept his defense in a lot of zone on Wednesday, looking to force the Tigers to beat them from the outside.  His defensive strategy did serve to limit LSU center Justin Hamilton to just 7 points on the night – nearly 9 points lower than his SEC average.

However, Georgia was unable to contain freshman big Johnny O’Bryant, who pounded the Dawgs on the inside for 14 points and 8 rebounds.

The only UGA player that provided any offense for Coach Fox’s team tonight was senior Gerald Robinson, Jr., finishing the game with 17 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 3 steals.

Sophomore Donte Williams struggled with foul trouble for the majority of the game, limiting him to only 17 minutes of play.  His minutes were productive, though, with the sophomore ending up with 7 points and 4 boards.

Kentavious-Caldwell Pope’s offensive woes continued in Baton Rouge as he went just 4 of 12 from the floor, ending the game with only 10 points.

The biggest and most pleasant surprise on the night (for me at least) had to be the play of freshman reserve big John Cannon.  In just 14 minutes of game time, Cannon racked up 4 points, 3 rebounds and a block.  More importantly, both of his field goals came on hook shots that he initiated with his back to the basket – real post moves!  By a UGA player at that!

Going forward with the small amount of season that is left, I’d much rather see Cannon come off the bench than John Florveous, Tim Dixon, etc.  At least he can get into the paint and bang like a legitimate post player, which is more than I can say for the other two guys I just named.

Wednesday night’s loss to LSU marks the third-straight for UGA, moving the Dawgs’ conference record to 3-10 (just one game above the Gamecocks).

Assuming Georgia can beat South Carolina at home in 10 days (while simultaneously assuming losses to Florida and Kentucky), the Bulldogs should then have the 11-seed locked up for this year’s SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament in New Orleans.

UGA’s tournament opponent is up in the air at the moment, with Tennessee, Alabama, LSU and Mississippi State all being possible contenders.  I hate to say it so soon after another Georgia loss, but I could realistically see the Dawgs beating any of those four conference opponents on a neutral court.

Any other thoughts on the game, the SEC Tourney, or just the general state of UGA basketball?

Dawgs drop second-straight game, fall to Vandy at home 61-52

The only thing more depressing than the weather outside today was Georgia’s second-half offense against the Vanderbilt Commodores today in Athens.

The Bulldogs(12-14; 3-9) played very solid defense in the first half, holding Vanderbilt to under 29% from the floor and forcing 6 steals.  Georgia took a 29-28 lead into the break despite not having Kentavious-Caldwell Pope’s services for nearly 16 minutes due to early foul trouble.

UGA Student Section
Where were all the UGA students?

The problem, however, was that the Dawgs only held a one-point advantage over the Commodores at the intermission.  Even though Vandy was ice-cold in the first half, Georgia was unable to add to their lead and give themselves a bit of a cushion heading into the second half.

KCP returned to action after the break though, capping off a 7-0 UGA run with a jumper that put the Dawgs up 40-35 with 13:38 left in the game.

Then John Jenkins happened.

The junior guard scored 8 points over the next 5 minutes, spearheading a 15-0 Vanderbilt run.  On a personal side note, I’ve never witnessed a 15-0 run live and let me tell you it is not fun to observe when the team you are cheering for has the “0”.

Georgia played their part during this Commodore run, missing 8 consecutive shots and turning the ball over twice.  After the smoke cleared, Vandy was up 50-40 with under 8 minutes remaining.  The Dawgs’ Gerald Robinson finally broke the UGA drought by scoring consecutive baskets to bring Georgia within 6 points.

Then John Jenkins happened again.

This time the Vandy guard knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to put his team up 56-44, crushing any hopes of a possible Georgia comeback.

Jenkins finished the game with 28 points on 6 of 8 shooting from beyond the arc, and his Commodore team walked out of Stegeman with the 61-52 victory.

Other than Gerald Robinson, who led all Bulldog scorers with 19 points, no other Georgia players cracked double-digits.  KCP and Dustin Ware finished with 6 and 7 points, respectively, and they combined to make just 5 of their 23 shots from the floor.

The Dawgs put on one of the worst three-point shooting displays today that I can remember in some time, hitting only 3 of 23 attempts, or 13%.  Georgia’s scored just 23 points after the intermission, largely in part due to a 1 for 17 shooting performance from beyond the arc.

At this point, it’s beginning to look as though the only post-season Georgia can expect to look forward to is the off-season.

The Dawgs followed up their most successful week of the season (which seems like ages ago now) – wins over Arkansas and Mississippi State – with consecutive SEC losses to South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Next week appears as though it could produce similar results as this one – Georgia hits the road Wednesday to play LSU (who beat SC in Columbia yesterday) before returning home Saturday to host the #12 Florida Gators.

Kudos to any fans out there that made the trip to Stegeman for the game today.  I was extremely disappointed in the turnout from the UGA student section, which appeared to be only about 15% full.

The highlight of the day for me was the El Sandwich Cubano I had from Cali & Tito’s prior to the game.

Gamecocks edge Dawgs 57-56, ending UGA win streak

Freshman Kentavious-Caldwell Pope had another chance to ice a game for the Georgia Bulldogs (12-13; 3-8) tonight, attempting a three-pointer from the wing with just 6 seconds remaining in the game and his team trailing by a point.  Unlike in the Mississippi State game though, this shot caromed off of the front of the rim and the South Carolina was able to walk away with a 57-56 victory.

To be fair to KCP, he did knock down a really big three with 2:43 left in the game that tied things up at 53-apiece.

Georgia didn’t lose the game tonight because of Pope’s missed shot.  Rather, the Dawgs were extremely careless with the ball in the second half which allowed the Cocks to hang around and eventually take the lead.

The Bulldogs, who came into the game averaging a league-low 9.3 turnovers per game in SEC play, gave the ball back to Carolina 7 times in the final 10 minutes of the second half.

Prior to this horrific run of careless basketball Georgia had built up a 46-39 lead at the 9:11 mark, which was aided by a pair of Sherrard Brantley threes and a couple free throws from KCP.  However, 3 turnovers and 4 misses later the game was tied with only 4:58 left.

The other point in the game where I thought UGA failed to capitalize and pull away from USC was in the first half, when the Dawgs had bolstered their lead to 16-9 following a three-pointer from senior Dustin Ware.  Ware’s three capped off a 12-2 Georgia run, and it looked as if they might be able to open up a sizeable advantage heading into the break.

Instead, Carolina responded with a 9-2 run of their own, tying the game at 18-18 with less than five minutes to play in the half.

The performances of the UGA bigs hurt the team nearly as badly as the late-game turnovers.  South Carolina showed Georgia a gimmicky trap zone for most of the night, forcing the Bulldog guards to pass, limiting their roles in the offense.  The Georgia big men had a plethora of nice looks at the basket, but they were unable to take advantage of many of them.  Marcus Thornton, Donte Williams, Neme Djurisic and John Florveus shot a combined 8 for 27 from the floor, or  just under 30%, which is a totally unacceptable shooting percentage for a group of post players (typically coaches like these guys to make around 45%+ of their attempts considering they are usually from very close in).

Neither team had much offense tonight with Carolina making 38.8% of their attempts to UGA’s 35.1%.

USC senior Malik Cooke led all scorers with 13 points, while Georgia was led by senior Gerald Robinson, Jr., who finished with a team-high 11 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 6 assists.

In his post-game interview, Coach Mark Fox sounded pretty disappointed in his team.  Fox kept lamenting the fact that the UGA players appeared tired all day (during shoot-around, etc), and that their fatigue carried over into the game and the way that they played.   He chastised his team for playing weak-mindedly and for not protecting the ball.

I can’t say that I can disagree with many of his complaints.