Reviewing Georgia’s 60-43 win over rival Georgia Tech

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.

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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.

 

 

Up next for UGA: Georgia Tech

 

The annual in-state rivalry game with Georgia Tech (6-3) has not been kind to Coach Mark Fox in recent years.  Prior to last year’s win in Athens, a game in which J.J. Frazier scored 35 points, Georgia (7-3) had lost four in a row to the Jackets.  With losses already to Clemson, Kansas and Marquette, the Dawgs are running out of opportunities for solid non-conference wins, meaning that Tuesday’s contest against the Jackets is one that Fox’s team must have.

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J.J. hit 6 three-pointers when these two teams met in Athens last year.

Georgia Tech, who was projected by both SI and USA Today to finish 14th in the new 15-team ACC this year, has endured a rocky start to the season.  After needing overtime to win their exhibition game against Shorter, the Jackets won 4 of 5 to start the season.  The problem, however, was that the lone loss came at home to Ohio.  Tech has dropped road games at both Penn State and Tennessee, yet they somehow pulled off a shocker at VCU, upending the Rams 76-73 in OT.

Coach Josh Pastner did not inherit a lot to work with for his initial campaign as the Jackets’ skipper.  Tech returned just one starter this season – Quinton Stephens – and he only netted 5 points a game a year ago.  This season, though, Stephens has been getting almost 12 points and 8 rebounds a night.

The surprise of the year thus far for Pastner has to be the play of center Ben Lammers, who is leading this team in both scoring and rebounding.  After averaging just 3.6 points and 4 boards a night last year, Lammers is pouring in 15 points and 11 rebounds per game this season.  Lammers is an excellent passer, and at 6’10”, he can can see the whole floor when he has the ball at the top of the key, where Tech likes to run a lot of its offense.

The most talented guard on the Jackets roster has to be junior Tadric Jackson, who is scoring just under 13 points a contest.  The former 4-star recruit out of Tift County spurned an offer from UGA and wound up going to school in Atlanta instead.  This season, Tech is 4-1 in games in which Jackson has scored in double-figures; they are 1-2 in the games that he has failed to eclipse the 10-point mark.

This Tech team is not afraid to press full court defensively, which is something that Georgia has not see a lot of so far this season.  The Dawgs should definitely expect to see full court pressure on Tuesday, as Pastner will want to make it as difficult as possible for UGA to dump the ball down into Maten in the half court set.

While its unreasonable to demand another 35 points out of Frazier, Coach Fox must get better play from his senior guard.  J.J. has shot over 40% from the floor in only 4 of the team’s 10 games this year, and if Georgia hopes to sneak out of Midtown with a win they are going to need Frazier to shoot it well Tuesday night.

Tech Wrecked!!!

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Trey showed the Jackets who Runs This State

Georgia upset #17 Georgia Tech with solid defense (held Tech to 38.3% from the field and 25% from 3pt) and a whole lot of heart (I got my “Rocky Balboa” performance after all).

The Dawgs had the lead for all but about 5 minutes the entire game, and every time the Jackets got close or took the lead Georgia played strong and responded.

The only major flaw on the night for Georgia was that they let Tech get way too many offensive rebounds (Tech finished with 17).  If the Bulldogs Bigs had done a better job rebounding defensively, this game might not have been close at all.

The Dawgs held Tech’s freshman sensations Derrick Favors and Mfon Udofia to 8 points and 6 points, respectively.  Favors only logged 21 frustrating minutes, and was in foul trouble for most of the game.

I give Trey Thompkins and Ricky McPhee Co-MVP awards – Trey finished with 20 points/6 rebounds and McPhee had 16 points (4-7 from 3pt).

More importantly, both of these players made amazingly clutch plays in the final 2 minutes of the game.

With 1:29 left in the second half McPhee nailed a 3-pointer from the left corner to put Georgia up 61-55.  Zach Peacock answered with a 3-point bucket to cut the lead to 61-58.  McPhee immediately took the ball down the court and hit a running jump shot to put Georgia back up by five points.

Thompkins made  a crucial steal on an in-bounds play with 46 ticks left and Georgia only up 64-60…he got the ball to Ware who hit a free throw and put the Dawgs  up 65-60.

UGA would never look back and finished the game 73-67.

Travis Leslie played with great energy (12 pts, 4 reb, 2 assists, 2 stl, 2 blk) and made two sensational plays – an alley-oop dunk, and a block in which he nearly hit HIS HEAD ON THE BACKBOARD.  The only downside for Leslie were his 5 turnovers…

I read Mark Bradley’s article about the game on AJC.com, and was slightly offended when he stated that Trey Thompkins wouldn’t start for the Jackets.  Bradley claims that he attended the game, but obviously he wasn’t paying very good attention…Thompkins would not only start for Tech, but he would be a star player on that team.

ESPN highlights can be watched here – definitely worth it to see Leslie’s dunk.

Anything else about the game?

Wreck Tech

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Will the Dawgs have the "Eye of the Tiger" on Tuesday night?

In 1976, Sylvester Stallone created an iconic boxing figure in his film directorial debut, Rocky.  Rocky Balboa  glorified the heart of the underdog and achieved success against all odds.

Why the 1976 reference?

Because this was the last time that the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets won a Men’s basketball game in Athens, GA.  Seems unbelievable doesn’t it with all of the talented players and teams that Tech has had over the years (Mark Price, Danny Manning, Tom Hammonds, Duane Ferrell, Dennis Scott, Kenny Anderson, Matt Harpring, Stephon Marbury)?

For the Bulldogs to keep their home winning streak alive Tuesday night against the Jackets, I think they are going to need a “Rocky Balboa “-esque performance because this GT team is very talented.

The Jackets come into this game 11-2 and ranked in both polls – #20 in AP; #17 in USA Today.  Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology edition has Tech entering the NCAA tournament as a 7-seed.

Georgia Tech had one  of the top recruiting classes coming into this season, and those talented freshman are producing early:

  • F Derrick Favors – 12.4 pts, 8.8 rebounds
  • PG Mfon Udofia – 11.2 pts, 4.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists
  • G/F Brian Oliver – 7.2 pts, 41.4% from 3pt

The Wramblin’ Wreck’s front court features junior Gani Lawal and senior Zachery Peacock, who are averaging 14.8 and 9.5 points, respectively.

This team shoots the ball well (47.2% FG), plays great defense (only allowing 60.5/game) and they are big inside which allows them to control the glass and bring down 42.8 rebounds a game.

The good news for the Dawgs is that this Tech team hasn’t beaten a ranked opponent all season (not that UGA has either) – CBS Sportsline has the Jackets strength of schedule at 179; UGA’s is 130…so there is a slight possibility that this Tech squad has built up its 11-2 record against weaker opponents.

Another bonus for the Dawgs is Tech’s next opponent – the Jackets play host to #5 Duke on Saturday and could get caught looking ahead…

Keys to the Game

“Under Pressure” – the Queen and David Bowie hit song should be the Dawgs’ mantra Tuesday night.  This Jackets team has struggled with turnovers so far this year, averaging nearly 17 a game and ranking them 51st in the country in basketball’s ugliest statistical category.  Mark Fox should consider utilizing the full-court zone trap press that features Travis Leslie up front and on the ball…this could create some easy buckets for the Dawgs and get Tech out of their half-court offense.

“Jackson, Barnes & Price, LLC” – Albert Jackson, Chris Barnes and Jeremy Price have got to give Georgia quality minutes against the Jackets.  I always feel confident that Trey Thompkins will get his rebounds, but sometimes the other forwards make me a bit nervous…UGA needs them to step up and work hard on the glass to help limit Tech’s second-chance opportunities.

Marquee Matchup – Last year Trey Thompkins scored 20 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in an ugly game in which the Jackets won 67-62 in Atlanta.  Gani Lawal scored 15 points and added 14 rebounds.  It’s safe to say that they ended in a draw (though Lawal’s team won the game).

This year, I anticipate Trey winning this matchup.  He has improved more both physically and statistically since last year’s rookie campaign, while Lawal’s numbers have remained almost identical.

The crowd for this one should be primarily red and black since the Georgia Tech football team plays Iowa at 8:15pm in the Orange Bowl.  Hopefully the UGA faithful can bring a lot of energy and get the Dawgs nice and fired up.

I think that on paper the Georgia Tech team is more talented (vegas has them at a 6-point favorite), but I remember a situation back in November 2009 where a Georgia Tech football team was also considered “better on paper”.

This game will be televised on CSS beginning at 7:00PM EST.

What’s everyone thinking about this one?  Will Travis Leslie come onto the court with “I Run This State” on his eye black or arms?