Bama rolls UGA in Athens 80-60

 

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Assistant Philip Pearson had to take over the coaching duties last night after Mark Fox was tossed late in the first half.

After beating Vandy at home a week ago, it seemed like Georgia (12-8) had a few more games before embarking on what would be their most difficult stretch of conference play: @ Kentucky, @ South Carolina, Florida and @ Tennessee.  Losing on the road to Texas A&M, a team projected to finish 3rd in the conference, in the bizarre fashion that UGA did is one thing.  To get blown out at home, though, by an Alabama (12-7) team that was picked to end up 11th in the SEC is another.  The Tide trounced Georgia 80-60 last night in Stegeman, and now the Bulldogs will carry a two-game conference losing streak into Lexington next Tuesday.  Below are my thoughts on what went wrong last night:

Soft defense

Georgia is a team that prides itself on its defense, which is why the Dawgs entered last evening’s contest ranked 24th in the country in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to under 40% a night.  That team didn’t show up on Tuesday, though.  The rotations in UGA’s matchup zone last night were incredibly sluggish.  Weak side defenders failed to shift quickly enough when the ball moved to the wing and the corners, leaving gaping holes in middle of the zone.  Alabama took advantage, easily getting the ball into the paint, where the Tide scored 26 of their points. Bama came into this game with second-worst offense in league games, netting under 68 points a night; yet by halftime, the Tide had already scored 41 points, which was their highest output in a first half in conference play this year.  Freshman Braxton Key, who is the only Bama player scoring in double-figures at 10.7 a night, completely had his way with the Dawgs and finished with a game-high 26 points.  Riley Norris nearly doubled his season average as he scored 15 points on Tuesday, and he looked like Steph Curry doing it: hitting open three’s and dicing into the lane off the dribble.

The Dawgs effort around the perimeter wasn’t any better.  The Tide hit 4 three-pointers before the break because Georgia’s zone was slow to react; the 5 three-pointers that Bama knocked down after the intermission happened because UGA looked as if it just wasn’t interested in running out.  This was an Alabama team that was making less than 32% of its attempts from beyond the arc prior to Tuesday in SEC games, but the Tide sure looked comfortable from the perimeter last night as they buried 9 of 16 shots.

Devastating stretch to close out the first half

The Dawgs had a moment in the first half where they appeared ready to wake up and take control of this game.  With UGA trailing 28-19 with 4:07 remaining in half, Juwan Parker hit a three-pointer and Yante Maten simultaneously got fouled underneath vying for position for the rebound.  Since Georgia was in the bonus, Maten stepped to the line and hit a pair of free throws which cut the Tide advantage to 28-24 following the five-point trip.

Then the wheels came off.  Bama responded immediately and went on a 10-0 run that sent their lead back up to 38-24 with just 1:27 left.  About 30 seconds earlier, UGA lost its coach for the remaining 22 minutes as Mark Fox was quickly ejected for arguing a carrying call against Jordan Harris.  Any hopes that Fox’s tirade might ignite his sleepy team were quickly dashed when Corban Collins hit a three-pointer with just one second on the clock, and the Tide took a 41-27 lead into the break.

Disappearing act by J.J. Frazier

J.J. has played pretty well for UGA this year, but by and large, he hasn’t lived up to the preseason expectations after what he did a year ago.  At times last night, I forgot that he was even on the court.  Frazier, who came into yesterday’s contest netting a little over 18 points per SEC game, took just 3 shots in the first half.  J.J. ended up with only 4 points,  shooting an abysmal 2 for 9 from the floor and missing all 5 of this three-point attempts.  Not only was his shot off, but Frazier missed on his lay ups, too.  J.J. drew all glass on one of his fast break drives, which is a shot that he routinely finishes with contact.

Yante Maten led all UGA scorers with 20 points, which was impressive considering he faced double teams every time he touched the ball in the paint.  But last night proved that Maten cannot do it alone, and when Frazier is held under double-digits the Dawgs are going to hard-pressed to beat anybody other than Morehouse.

 

 

Dawgs turn game over to Aggies, lose 63-62

The Dawgs (12-7) lost in truly bizarre fashion in College Station on Saturday afternoon.  With a little over 16 seconds left, J.J. Frazier brought the ball up the court with his team trailing by a point.  When the clock hit 5.6 seconds, Frazier found himself in trouble, facing a double-team near the perimeter.  Fortunately, Frazier managed to find Yante Maten on the block, where he quickly turned and drew a foul going towards the bucket.  At the moment, it appeared that Maten was headed to the line with a chance to put his team ahead of Texas A&M (9-9).  The problem, however, was that the clock still showed 5.6 seconds.  The officials gathered, discussed and determined that more than 6 seconds had eclipsed since the game clock ceased running, and they decided that the contest was over, giving the Aggies the 63-62 home win.

While this decision certainly deserves some explaining from the SEC’s league office, Georgia can hardly be that upset considering how horribly the Dawgs played down the stretch.  After building up a 56-43 advantage with a little over 10 minutes remaining, UGA’s final 17 possessions resulted in 10 turnovers and a 1 for 7 performance from the floor.  The Aggies full court trap press mystified Georgia and forced the Dawgs into 4 turnovers in the final 2 minutes of play.  Texas A&M ended the game on a 10-0 run and stole a victory from the Dawgs in a contest that UGA led for the majority of the afternoon.

As bummed as I am regarding the loss, I’m equally curious as to whether Coach Mark Fox’s team actually has a press break offense.  The A&M trap was tough, but nothing that a Division I team from a Power 5 conference shouldn’t be able to figure out.  The Dawgs, however, seemed content to go the route of a broken record as they repeatedly inbounded the ball far too low and to the corner, making it incredibly easy for the Aggie defenders to trap Frazier.  Not once during this nightmare of an ending did Georgia pass the ball into a player above the free throw line.

UGA’s offense over the last quarter of this game completely contrasted what it had done over the previous thirty minutes.  For most of the afternoon, the Dawgs were highly efficient on offense, carving up the Aggies 2-3 zone by getting the ball to either the short corner or free throw line.  Before the meltdown, Georgia hit over 46% from the floor and 6 of 10 from beyond the arc, and they had 14 team assists to just 7 turnovers.  Texas A&M’s 10-0 run to end the game was payback for the one that UGA went on going into the intermission.  Yante Maten and Tyree Crump hit back to back three-pointers to send the Dawgs up 39-29 at the half.

Defensively, UGA’s match up zone kept the Aggies in check.  A&M made only 36% of its shots from the floor, and the team’s leading scorer, Tyler Davis, finished with just 8 points.  The Aggies out-rebounded the Dawgs 40-38 and they hauled in 18 offensive boards, but when a team starts two 6’9″s and two 6’10″s that can almost be expected.

The Aggies were led offensively by Robert Williams and D.J. Hogg, who finished with 18 and 16, respectively.

Georgia had just two players finish in double-figures: Maten (19) and Frazier (11).

After committing only 6 turnovers on Tuesday against Vandy, the Dawgs returned to their careless ways, giving the ball away 17 times.

UGA now has two losses to teams with RPI’s above 100: Texas A&M (110) and Oakland (127).  Both of these games will fall into the old “bad loss” category in regards to Georgia’s NCAA tournament resume, which took a major hit today in College Station.

 

 

UGA comes up short again in Gainesville against the Gators

J.J. Frazier had a chance to be a hero twice on Saturday, but he came up a little short each time.  The first opportunity came at the end of regulation when J.J. took a last second shot from the top of the key as timed expired, but the ball didn’t cooperate, bouncing off the back of the iron and sending the game into overtime.  At the end of OT, Frazier took an off-balanced shot from the corner that could have tied the game at 79 apiece, but that shot   was off the mark as well and UGA lost an 80-76 heartbreaker to the Florida Gators, making it 14 straight years since they last won in Gainesville.

In some ways it was kind of amazing that the Dawgs managed to get to OT considering that they had to play the last 3:51 without their leading scorer, Yante Maten.  Maten fouled out vying for position underneath with a Florida player, his team up 64-59.  But without Yante on the court, the Gators were able to extend their defense so that they could key in on Frazier around the perimeter, and they limited UGA to just 3 points during this final stretch.  Overtime felt like more of a formality than anything since it seemed improbable that the Dawgs could actually outplay Florida for 5 minutes without Maten’s inside presence.

But moral victories aside, this loss was also incredibly frustrating for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, Georgia missed out on a chance to notch a serious NCAA tournament resume win on the road against a team with an RPI of 3.  At halftime, ESPN college basketball analyst Andy Katz repeated almost to the point of ad nauseam how important it was that Georgia get this game.

Second, the Dawgs once again played loose with the basketball, turning it over 18 times, and it cost them: Florida converted those turnovers into 22 points.  While the Gators did enter this game 18th in the nation in turnovers forced, that didn’t mean that UGA had to oblige and hand the ball over to them.  The Dawgs are now averaging just under 16 turnovers a game in conference play, which is third to last in the SEC in that category.

Also, at the end of this game Georgia failed to limit the Gators to just one shot on offense.  Florida collected 5 offensive rebounds over the final five and a half minutes (including OT), and they turned those boards into 4 of their final 14 points.  Let’s not forget that Florida guard Kasey Hill tied the game from the line at 67-67 after John Egbunu kept Hill’s previous missed free throw alive.  Derek Ogbeide led UGA with 10 rebounds on the afternoon, but he only managed 1 defensive board during this critical stretch of the game.  Florida only had 6 second chance points in the entire game, but unfortunately for Georgia the Gators collected the majority of them with the game on the line.

Finally, Georgia made too many bonehead plays to walk out of this one with a win.  The Dawgs committed three fouls on Florida shooters attempting three-pointers, and Canyon Barry turned two of them into four-point plays.  I would wager a large sum of money that no other team in the country today surrenders more than one 4-point play in a game.  I guess I have to at least credit the Dawgs for attempting to contest his shot, though, since twice on inbounds plays Mark Fox’s team left the youngest Barry wide open at the top of the key, where he buried both attempts.  Barry scored a season-high 27 points on the Dawgs this afternoon, connecting on 5 of his 8 three-point shots.

This was a winnable game for Georgia.  Despite Florida’s #23 ranking in the polls and their high RPI, this Gator team did not look nearly as scary as the ones that Billy Donovan fielded in the past.  I was expecting 40 minutes of full-court pressure from this highly regarded Florida defense, yet for much of the game the Gators seemed content to play half court man to man, which played to UGA’s strengths.  In the first half, the Dawgs pounded the ball inside and led the entire twenty minutes, taking a 1 point advantage into the break.  Georgia made more than 48% of their field goal attemtps, well above the team’s season average of 44%.

But alas, it wasn’t meant to be, and the Dawgs are now 11-6 overall, and 3-2 in conference play. J.J. Frazier played well, scoring 25 points and dishing out 5 assists, but man would it have been epic if he could have sunk that shot at the end of regulation.  Juwan Park, who has been getting better and better since the start of the SEC season, netted 17 points to go along with his 7 boards.

Georgia has a few days to lick their wounds before playing host to a Vanderbilt team that just lost a close game at home to Kentucky.

 

 

 

UGA searching for its first win in Gainesville under Coach Mark Fox

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The Stephen C. O’Connell Center has not been kind to UGA over the past 15 years.

Mark Fox has never won a game in Gainesville.  Let that sink in for a moment.  Matter of fact, Fox’s UGA teams have only been victorious 3 times in their 12 meetings with the Gators overall during that same time span.  The last time the Dawgs did manage to pull off a road win against Florida was during the 2001-2002 season, when now assistant coach Jonas Hayes was a player (UGA won 84-79 that day).

The fact that the Gators have been so dominant against Georgia shouldn’t be surprising, though.  Florida has had considerably better talent walk through its doors over the past 15 years.  I mean, the Gators did win back to back national championships in 2006 and 2007 during the Joakim Noah era.  Florida regularly goes to the NCAA Tournament, while UGA has been twice since Fox set foot in Athens.

But its not just the Gators that Coach Mark Fox’s teams have struggled against.  Generally speaking, Georgia hasn’t fared well against elite competition during Fox’s tenure.  Over the past seven seasons, the Dawgs have compiled a 2-30 record versus what ESPN deems the RPI Top 25.  Currently, Florida has an RPI of 3.

To say that Georgia has a lot of things going against itself historically as they rumble into Gainesville for a midday showdown with the Gators is an understatement.

Dawgs bounce back at home with a 71-66 win over Mizzou

 

Hopefully during the postgame handshakes Coach Fox made sure to thank the Missouri assistant that started all the fracas on the court as Georgia (10-5) and Mizzou (5-9) headed into the locker rooms at halftime.  The scuffle fired up a Stegeman crowd that had been lulled to sleep as UGA played an incredibly uninspiring first half. The Dawgs returned to the court reinvigorated following the intermission, and they certainly fed off of the energy coming from a loud and exhuberent Georgia student section.

Georgia, who trailed the Tigers 26-20 at the break, opened up the second half with some full-court pressure and a sense of urgency.  The result: UGA turned Mizzou over 5 times in the first 6 minutes, and had a 39-32 lead after Pape Diatta capped off a 19-6 run with a beautiful left-handed reverse layup.

The Dawgs backed out of the press, though, and Georgia’s defense got lackadaisical.  The Bulldogs allowed Terrance Phillips, who led all Tiger scorers with 20 points, to bury 3 of his 5 three’s after the break.  By the 7:20 mark, Mizzou had taken the lead back from UGA following a free throw by K.J. Walton, making the score 52-51 in favor of the Tigers.

J.J. Frazier, however, took over in the second half, scoring 14 of his 16 points and snatching a team-high 5 steals.  Two of Frazier’s steals came back to back and proved critical down the stretch as he converted one into a layup and another into a mid-range jumper.  J.J.’s thievery gave his team a 62-54 advantage with 5:23 left in the game, and following a dagger from beyond the arc by Pape Diatta the Dawgs had a commanding 65-54 lead with just a little over 4 minutes remaining.

As exciting as the second half turned out to be for both the UGA team and its fans, the first half showcased the worst twenty minutes that this team has played all year.  Georgia managed just 2 field goals in the game’s first 12 minutes against a Missouri team that entered this game with an RPI of 263 and a loss to Lipscomb under its belt.  The Dawgs shot 33% from the floor and just 17% from beyond the arc as they tried to shoot over the top of Missouri’s 2-3 zone defense.  Much like South Carolina, Mizzou defenders swarmed around Yante Maten whenever he touched the ball inside.  Maten didn’t handle the extra attention well as he committed 4 of his team’s 12 turnovers prior to the intermission (UGA had 20 turnovers on the afternoon).  Georgia’s other leading scorer, J.J. Frazier, had just 2 points on 2 field goal attempts as he played as timid of a half offensively as I can remember.

But enough of the negatives. Even though this Tiger team will probably reside in the SEC cellar this year, this was a game that Georgia had to have and they got it.  Frazier shot it 50% from the floor, making it just the 5th time this year that he has hit that mark in a game.  While he missed both his three-point attempts, J.J. knocked down several mid to long-range jumpers which might help to restore his confidence.

Juwan Parker, who has scored in double-digits in all three of the conference games this year, finished with 11 points and 6 rebounds.  More importantly, though, is that the junior seems to have found his shot as he is hitting over 52% from the field in SEC contests.

Pape Diatta provide a huge spark off the bench for Coach Fox, scoring 12 points to go along with 5 boards.  I’m not sure what exactly Diatta has to do to steal more of Kenny Paul Geno’s minutes, but hopefully today he made a strong enough case to his coach.

Yante Maten just missed another double-double as he netted 17 points and snagged 9 rebounds, though his turnovers were quite unfortunate.

The future does not look bright for the Dawgs next week as they have a pair of road matchups with Ole Miss and Florida.

Georgia can’t overcome turnovers in loss to South Carolina

For a brief moment the Georgia Bulldogs looked poised to claim its first lead of the second half after Yante Maten buried a three-pointer from the top of the key with only 57 seconds remaining.  Trailing South Carolina 62-61, the Dawgs were just one mere stop from wresting away the advantage from the visiting Gamecocks.  But as luck would have it, Sindarius Thornwell, who had just returned from a six-game suspension, would score on a tip-in from his own miss on the ensuing possession, putting his team back up by 3.  J.J. Frazier turned the ball over the next time down the court and then fouled Hassani Gravett immediately.  Gravett made only one of two from the line, but Frazier forced an awkward three that caromed off the rim, and UGA would go on to lose 67-61.

The final minute of this game exemplified the major issues that plagued this Georgia team throughout the night: poor defense, turnovers and inconsistent offense.  The Dawgs tried to play USC in man defense for much of this game, but I’m not sure that they had the personnel for that strategy to work.  Coach Mark Fox doesn’t have the perimeter players to deal with Thornwell or fellow guard P.J. Dozier.  Both of these guys relentlessly drove the ball to the paint, where Frank Martin’s team notched 38 of its points (to UGA’s 19).  Dozier led all scores with 24 points to go along with 7 rebounds, and Thornwell recorded a double-double, scoring 19 points and snagging 11 rebounds.

Georgia didn’t really have it together on offense tonight either.  The Dawgs made just 36% from the floor and under 31% from beyond the arc.  Coach Fox’s team played incredibly sloppy in this one, turning the ball over 16 times, which led to 18 Gamecock points. UGA began the second half with one of its infamous scoring droughts, netting just 5 points in over 7 minutes of play.  The Dawgs only trailed Carolina 36-34 at the break, but following a Chris Silva Jumper with 12:51 left they found themselves down 48-39.  The free throw line, where UGA connected on 23 of 30 attempts, was the lone bright spot for Georgia, and honestly it kept them in the game down the stretch.

The Dawgs continued to pound the ball inside to Yante Maten, and despite facing multiple double-teams, he kept getting himself to the line.  Maten made 9 of his 13 free throw attempts, though he only shot 33% from the floor.  Yante did record another double-double as he pulled in a team-high 10 rebounds, but he never really got into an offensive rhythm as he constantly found himself surrounded by Gamecock bigs whenever he touched the ball inside.  All this pressure forced Georgia’s leading scorer into 6 turnovers.

Unfortunately, Maten wasn’t the only Dawg to hand the ball over 6 times.  Frazier committed 6 as well and never really got going on offense himself.  Much like Maten, J.J. collected the majority of his points from the charity stripe, where he sunk 9 of 10 attempts.  But Frazier’s efficiency from the field was far worse as he connected on just 30% from the floor and only 1 of his 6 perimeter shots.

The only other UGA player to finish in double-figures was Juwan Parker, who netted 12 points to go along with his 6 rebounds.

This loss was a tough one for Coach Fox’s team for several reasons.   One, it totally sucks the air out of any of the mojo that the Dawgs might have been feeling after that big road win at Auburn last week.  Two, Georgia still hasn’t recorded a solid RPI win.  South Carolina’s RPI was 54 coming into the game, and it would have been UGA’s highest to date had they pulled it off.  Finally, Georgia blew a solid opportunity to begin SEC play at 3-0 with lowly Missouri coming into town this Saturday.  However, now that that’s out the window, the Dawgs will be doing their best to get back above .500 in conference play.

 

Georgia uses late run to snatch SEC opener away from Auburn

12336179SEC openers have not been Mark Fox’s specialty during his tenure in Athens as his teams have gone a combined 2-5.  Georgia (9-4) looked overwhelmed at the start of this game, and following a tip-in by Austin Wiley the Auburn Tigers (10-3) held a commanding 33-20 lead over the Dawgs just a little over halfway through the opening twenty minutes.  The sold out Auburn Arena was rocking as this hot Tiger team, coming off a huge road win at Connecticut, seemed poised to deliver a knockout punch to a shell-shocked group of Dawgs.

But UGA hung around.  J.J. Frazier got handsy, ratcheting up a game-high 5 steals.  Jordan Harris looked like a 4-star recruit, scoring 12 points on a combination of three-pointers and drives.  Yante Maten got hit with 2 quick fouls, but managed to only accumulate 1 more over the final 30-something minutes.  Even Juwan Parker, who’s jumper has been anything but consistent this season, buried a key shot from the corner that put the Dawgs up 90-80 with only 2:31 left.

Below are two major reasons why Georgia managed to pull off this 96-84 victory on The Plains:

Switch to zone 

The Dawgs tried to play Auburn in a man defense to begin the game and that strategy was rendered ineffective pretty quickly.  The Tigers pushed the tempo early, and UGA failed to close out well on the perimeter, which led to a barrage of Auburn three-pointers.  The Tigers hit 7 of their first 11 shots from beyond the arc and held a 36-26 advantage with a little over 8 minutes left in the first half after a triple from junior T.J. Lang.

Credit Mark Fox, however, for recognizing and reacting to Auburn’s pace by putting his team into a combination of matchup, 2-3 and 3-2 zones.  The Tigers missed their final 3 shots from the perimeter heading into the intermission, and they made just 2 of 12 from beyond the arc in the second half.  After hitting over 56% from the floor in the first twenty minutes of play, Auburn made only 37% of its field goal attempts following the break. UGA’s zone looks reduced the number of open shots from the outside for Bruce Pearl’s team, and it helped Georgia slow down the tempo of the game, which turned out to work very much in Dawgs’ favor.

Two-man game

In the latter quarter of this game, Georgia abandoned its typical half court offensive sets, which can become slightly rigid at times, and instead put the ball in the hands of its two playmakers. On nearly every possession, the Dawgs offense consisted of a high screen by Yante Maten for J.J. Frazier, and then those two would take it from there.  Maten, who led all scorers with 31 points, netted 10 of those in the game’s final 8 minutes.  Frazier, who poured in 27 points as well, scored 8 during the same stretch and dished out 2 of his 5 assists.  The UGA offense looked much more NBA-like than collegiate in the game’s final minutes, and Georgia closed out this contest with a  22-10 run after trailing Auburn 76-74 with 7:27 remaining.  After connecting on just 42% of its field goal attempts in the first half, Georgia almost knocked down 60% of its shots from the floor following the intermission en route to a season-high output of 96 points.

Just how good is the high school basketball talent in Georgia?

Dennis Felton’s demise at Georgia, which was briefly stalled by a miraculous tornado-driven SEC Tournament Championship in 2008, ultimately came to roost because of the coach’s inability to keep the top high school basketball talent in state.

Mark Fox was hired because he had recruited well and made a winner out of Nevada, and I suppose the thinking inside the UGA Athletic Department was that with Atlanta just a little over an hour away, Fox could start convincing some of these talented Peach state recruits to stay home and play in the Red and Black.

As a former high school basketball player in DeKalb County, one of Atlanta’s biggest school districts, I’ve always felt that this city was loaded with high-end basketball talent, as I played against a number of major Division-I commits.  For years, college basketball analysts have labeled Atlanta a “hotbed” for recruiting, but I wanted to take a more objective look for myself.  Here is what I was able to dig up:

  • According to Hero Sports, Georgia has produced the 7th highest number of Division-I basketball players this season with 225.
  • In 2015, Georgia and Wisconsin tied for 7th place among states (with 13 players apiece) in regards to the number of players on rosters of teams ranked in the  AP Preseason Top 25.
  • Georgia produced the 5th most (44) Division-I college basketball players relative to its college-age male populations, according to a 2014 Deadspin article.
  • Georgia currently has 12 players from the state ranked on the 2017 ESPN100 list of the nation’s best recruits, the most of any other state.  The next closest state to Georgia is California, which has a total of 8 players on the same list.  Considering the population differential between those two states, I’d say that the fact that Georgia boasts 4 more blue chips than Cali is quite significant.  Below are the number of ESPN100 recruits from the state of Georgia during the Mark Fox era:
    • 2017 = 12
    • 2016 = 9
    • 2015 = 6
    • 2014 = 4
    • 2013 = 2
    • 2012 = 9
    • 2011 = 6
    • 2010 = 5

Maybe the most telling statistic from all of this is that over the past 8 years the state of Georgia has put 53 players on the ESPN 100 lists, and UGA has landed 3 of them: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tyree Crump and Rayshawn Hammonds.  Not including next year’s class with Hammonds, Fox will have signed one of these ESPN100 guys at a rate of just under 1 every 3 years during his time in Athens.

If a UGA basketball coach could ever manage to land one of these ESPN100 recruits every season, the Dawgs would probably be dancing nearly every March.

 

 

 

 

Georgia’s lack of a 3rd scoring option

Anyone following Georgia basketball this season has surely been privy to the comments surrounding UGA’s need to find an established third scoring option.  Many had hoped that that would be Juwan Parker, who is currently netting 8 points per contest.  As the season progresses into conference play, Parker may boost his offensive output and blast into the realm of double-digit scoring, but for this Dawgs team that increase may come at a cost.  Currently, Parker is shooting 33% from the floor and 11% from beyond the arc, numbers that aren’t that far off from his career averages heading into this season (33% from the floor and 20% from 3-point land).  For Parker to start scoring even more, Georgia will have to endure a lot more missing as well.

Others thought that the two 4-star recruits, Jordan Harris and Tyree Crump, might help to shore up the scoring load that would be abandoned by the departures of Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann.  Harris, who has worked his way into the starting lineup, is getting 5.2 points per game, but he’s still looking awful freshman-like whenever he puts the ball on the floor.  Defenders have been able to strip the ball from his hands far too easily when he drives the ball, and that problem will only get worse once conference play begins.  And Crump is barely seeing the floor.

It is safe to say at this point that Mark Fox may not get another reliable scoring option this season, and that’s a problem.  Yante Maten averaged over 24 points against the likes of Clemson, Kansas  and Marquette, and UGA still lost all three games.  Against Oakland, Maten was rendered ineffective due to foul trouble, managing only 6 points; Georgia lost again.  Whether Maten scores 30 or 6, the Bulldogs are still very beatable.

In Mark Fox’s seven years at UGA, his most successful seasons have come when his team’s scoring has been balanced.  However, in order for a team to have balanced scoring, it first has to have more than two players that can score the ball effectively.  Let’s examine Fox’s lineups throughout his tenure at Georgia in order of what I consider to be most successful to least successful, beginning with his two NCAA tournament participants:

The 2010-11 team that finished 21-12 after losing in the first round of the NCAA’s to Washington:

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The 2014-2015 team also went 21-12, and they lost to Michigan State in round 1 of the NCAA’s:

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Last year’s team, which ended up in the NIT, was 20-14:

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The 2013-2014 campaign – another 20-14 season – resulted in UGA going to the 2nd round of the NIT:

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The remaining Fox-lead teams all had losing records:

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And finally, a look at this year’s current scoring numbers:

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Noticing a trend?  When Fox has had only two players at most scoring in double-digits, his teams have not only failed to reach the Big Dance, but they’ve only recorded winning records once in those four seasons.  At the moment, it’s definitely looking like a two-player in double-digit kind of season for Fox, and he’s got no one to blame for that other than himself.  The Dawgs have the best guard-forward combo in Frazier and Maten that they’ve had since the 2010-2011 team that featured Gerald Robinson, Jr. and Trey Thompkins.  Unfortunately, the Frazier-Maten Express has been relatively easy for opponents to manage due to their inadequate supporting cast.

If opponents chose to double-team Trey Thompkins, he had excellent outlets to choose from in Travis Leslie, Gerald Robinson, Jr. and Jeremy Price.  Marcus Thornton could rely on Kenny Gaines, Charles Mann and Neme Djurisic if he felt overly pressured.

Who can Frazier or Maten kick the ball too when defenses collapse on them?  Or even worse, when one of them is not on the floor?

UGA basketball: advanced metrics edition

Player efficiency rating is an advanced metric developed by ESPN’s John Hollinger.  In short, it’s a player’s per-minute productivity, which rewards players for field goals, free throws, 3-pointers, rebounds, steals, blocks and assists, and penalizes them for missed shots, turnovers and personal fouls.

PER allows us to summarize a player’s statistical accomplishments in one number, and it also provides the opportunity to compare players who may not play the same number of minutes on a nightly basis.

Yesterday, I calculated the PER for the UGA basketball team (minus Brandon Young, since he doesn’t average 6 minutes a game).  The results can be seen below:

  MIN PER
Yante Maten 31.5 25.7
Derek Ogbeide 16.1 18.4
Jordan Harris 11.3 16.6
J.J. Frazier 32.1 15.0
Mike Edwards 20.5 10.6
E’Torrion Wilridge 11.3 9.0
Kenny Paul Geno 12.6 8.7
Juwan Parker 25.6 8.0
Tyree Crump 7.0 7.4
Pape Diatta 12.0 6.5
William Jackson II 20.4 5.5
Houston Kessler 7.0 -2.2

 

A couple of notes and takeaways:

  • I included the Morehouse game in this analysis, but in his national rankings, Hollinger does not.  That being said, Yante Maten’s PER for the 7 games against Division I competition is 30.31, which ranks him 38th in the nation in that category.  If you weren’t already aware, Maten is HIGHLY efficient when he’s on the court.
  • Coach Mark Fox is not getting much out of Turtle Jackson and Juwan Parker other than minutes played.  It has to be a bummer for Fox that his starting guard and wing rank 11th (second worst) and 8th on the team in productivity, respectively.  He could, however, make a managerial decision to play these two less and replace their minutes with players that are giving him more.  Like, say, Jordan Harris? 
  • Derek Ogbeide, who has been far more productive than Mike Edwards thus far, is yielding 4 minutes a game to him.  Anyone who has been to or watched UGA basketball this year has surely noticed how often Fox pulls Ogbeide within the first two to three minutes of the game.  Fox’s reasons for yanking Derek haven’t been due to foul trouble, as Ogbeide has 18 personal fouls this year to Edwards’s 17, which leaves me wondering why he isn’t staying on the floor longer.

UGA’s most productive starting five at this point in the season would include Maten, Ogbeide, Edwards, Harris and J.J. Frazier.  While that lineup would present some size issues for opposing teams, I’m not sure how well it would defend against teams with quicker perimeter players.