Missouri drills Georgia 68-56 in Columbia

DTPGBajVQAQZFGU.jpg-large.jpegThe Georgia Bulldogs (11-4, 2-2 SEC) offense took the night off in Columbia last night against the Missouri Tigers.  The Dawgs’ man defense was strong for the first 20 minutes as they stayed in front of Mizzou and limited the Tigers to just one shot (most of the time).  Georgia held Missouri, a team averaging 10 three-pointers a night, to just 1 prior to the break. When the Dawgs returned from the locker room following the intermission, however, Coach Fox’s team forgot to bring their defense with them.  When a team can’t score, it must rely on its defense.  If that team can’t defend either, then that’s trouble; and last evening, that was Georgia.

UGA basketball strategy under Coach Mark Fox is fairly simple: hard-nosed defense along with controlled tempo offense with a lot of touches inside for the bigs.  On Wednesday, Georgia didn’t really follow either of those scripts.

Offensively, the Dawgs just weren’t themselves.  Rather than feeding the ball into its bigs, UGA opted to settle for outside shots.  The result: Georgia shot just 3 of 10 from beyond the arc, and the Dawgs scored only 10 points inside prior to the intermission (UGA hit 7 of 21 3PTers in the game). The Dawgs finished this contest with just 20 points in the paint, which is one of this team’s lowest outputs in that category this season.

Yante Maten had a particularly off night – he didn’t even convert a field goal before halftime and ended up with only 9 points in the game.  The crazy thing was Mizzou didn’t even double Maten every time he got touches; Tiger freshman Jontay Porter made life extremely difficult for Maten as he caused him to take forced looks and miss inside. Conversely, Porter notched a double-double himself with 15 points and 10 boards.

However, Yante’s bound to have an off night every once in a while, and when he does Fox needs other players to step up – that did not happen last night.  Turtle Jackson and Tyree Crump were the only Dawgs to finish in double-figures as they scored 10 apiece.  Juwan Parker (1-5) and Jordan Harris (0-4) combined for only 2 points on a 1 for 9 performance.  Both Rayshaun Hammonds and Derek Ogbeide had fairly forgettable games as they notched 7 points and 6 points, respectively.

After witnessing how fluid Georgia played last Saturday in its blowout of Alabama, it was uncanny how rigid they looked last night.  Against Bama, the Dawgs made the extra pass and found open shooters; they pounded the ball inside to their bigs.  Georgia finished that game with 13 team assists; they could only muster 8 assists on Wednesday.

The most frustrating part about this loss, though, had to be the complete lack of effort that UGA showed on the defensive end during the game’s final 20 minutes; it was vintage “The UMass game” from earlier this season.  Georgia’s bigs – Mike Edwards in particular – appeared as though they had never been asked to help guard an on-ball screen.  The whole team was disinterested in getting back on defense during Missouri’s transition offense, which resulted in numerous uncontested fast break points for the Tigers.  After hitting only 1 three in the first half, Mizzou hit 4 after the break.  The Tigers shot over 57% in the game’s final 20 minutes after making only 26% from the floor in the first half – getting a lot of wide open lay ups and dunks will certainly help bolster a team’s field goal percentage, though.

Despite all this doom and gloom, it should be noted that Georgia had a 23-20 lead at halftime.  Mizzou opened the second half with a 13-5 run, however, as they seized momentum back from UGA with 16:22 left and the Tigers leading 33-25 on a layup by Jordan Geist, who scored 10 points on the night (Mizzou had 4 players finish in double-figures).

Georgia made a run at the Tigers with a little less than 10 minutes remaining as they went on a 7-0 run, but Mizzou extinguished any hopes that the Dawgs held regarding a comeback as they responded with a 15-4 run themselves that was capped off by a bucket by Kevin Puryear that made it 57-44 with 6:01 left. The game was over.

After just playing a game in Columbia, the Dawgs will take on a team FROM Columbia this Saturday when Frank Martin’s South Carolina Gamecocks roll into town.  Considering last night’s debacle, I’d say the Dawgs need to win this one pretty bad to even up their record on the week and to get themselves over .500.  Personally, I was hoping for a big road win last night to help soften the heartache from the end of the National Championship game on Monday, but alas, the hangover continues.

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.

Dawgs tame Tigers, improve to 1-1 in conference play

The Georgia Bulldogs (8-4) rebounded nicely from their loss last Saturday to the Florida Gators, blasting the Missouri Tigers (7-7) at home in Athens on Tuesday night.  The Dawgs didn’t waste any time either, jumping out to a 10-0 lead following a Yante Maten basket before even 3 minutes had the chance to expire.

Mizzou managed to trim he UGA lead to 24-18 with 7:30 left before the break after a pair of three’s from Wes Clark. However, this mini-run came at a time when Coach Fox had all but one starter on the floor.  He immediately sent in his starting five and 3 minutes later the Dawgs lead had blossomed to 33-20.

Georgia played great offensively tonight, though some of that was due to the Tigers’ soft defense.  Mizzou looked as if it was moving in slow motion compared to the Gators’ hectic defensive style of play.

However, the Dawgs do deserve some credit for their productivity.  Georgia shot a robust 55% from the floor and an even better 58% from three-point land.  In addition, UGA shared the ball incredibly well, dishing out 19 team assists.

Georgia had four of its starters finish in double-figures, with J.J. Frazier leading the way with 16 points.

Yante Maten, who had 15 points and 6 boards on the night, scored 13 of those in the first half.  Maten was unstoppable from the start, and with about 12 minutes left before the intermission he was outscoring the Tigers 11-10 on his own.   Had Georgia not been coasting so much in the second half, Maten could have easily gone for 20+ in this one.

Senior Charles Mann had a nice comeback game, scoring 14 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 6 assists.  Mann hit 2 of his 3 three-point attempts against Mizzou, and he is now making over 45% of his three’s on the season – although, he’s only shot 11 of them.

Ultimately though, Missouri didn’t have an answer for anything UGA was doing.  They couldn’t even begin to wrap their minds around how to deal with Maten, and on top of that, Georgia was stroking the ball extremely well from beyond the arc.

Not to take away from Coach Fox’s team, but this Missouri team is very young and they don’t shoot very well, hitting just 35% from the floor and less than 16% from the perimeter in tonight’s contest.  The Dawgs played pretty well defensively, but the Tigers weren’t much of a threat, missing a number of close shots around the rim.

This 77-59 home win evens Georgia’s SEC record at 1-1, with a road matchup against Ole Miss on the horizon.  While this game is going to be taking place outside Athens, the Rebels play Bama at home on Thursday evening, meaning that they will be dealing with a quick turnaround in order to prepare for the Dawgs.

Dawgs shock Tigers in Columbia

The Georgia Bulldogs (7-6, 1-1) won an emotionally inspired game against #21 Missouri on Wednesday night, just a day after their head coach attended the funeral of his late father.  

In my opinion, this win was by far the best road win of the Mark Fox Era – the next best being a road win at Starkville two years ago in which UGA upset then-ranked #20 Mississippi State.

Last night’s game seems bigger, though.

UGA came into this contest 0-6 in contests away from Athens, and Mizzu held the nation’s longest-running home win streak at 26 games, which Georgia snapped.

The Bulldogs played with more effort last night than we have seen all season, out-rebounding the Tigers 43-34 and limiting them to under 40% from the floor as a team.  Mizzu’s star point guard, Jordan Clarkson, came into the game netting more than 19 points per game – yet the Dawgs were able to hold him to just 12 points on a frustrating 4 of 14 shooting performance.

While Charles Mann led the way with 18 points, Coach Fox also got double-digit scoring efforts from Nemanja Djurisic, Kenny Gaines and Brandon Morris, who chipped in 16, 11, and 10, respectively.

Mann relentlessly attacked the basket all night, and he scored the go-ahead bucket in the lane with 39 second left in overtime, putting his team up 65-63.  The Dawgs got a stop on the next possession, and they managed to hit enough free throws to escape Columbia with the 70-64 upset.

Neme, much like in the win over Western Carolina, seemingly took over on offense late in the game.  After scoring 9 points on all three’s in the first half, Djurisic went scoreless for the next 20 minutes.  However, Neme came alive in overtime, scoring the Dawgs’ first 7 points, including a monster three-pointer that tied the game at 63 apiece with a 1:44 remaining.

Probably the most amazing aspect of last night’s win was the fact that UGA was able to overcome another atrocious performance from the free throw line, where the team made only 13 of 26 attempts.  Had Georgia been more efficient from the charity stripe, they would have put this game away in regulation.

Regardless, this victory could not have come at a better time for a team that appeared to be fading towards the end of 2013.  

Georgia gets Alabama at home on Saturday, and the biggest question now is whether they can match last night’s effort on a consistent basis as they continue their march through the 2014 SEC schedule.

2011-2012 Out-of-Conference Opponents

The Georgia Bulldogs schedule for the 2011-2012 season does not appear to be very forgiving, considering this team is losing nearly 45% of its offense to the NBA.

The Dawgs will open up the season with the CBE Classic, a preseason tournament in which Georgia will actually host regional round games between November 13 to 17.  The other three hosts in this tournament are Missouri, Notre Dame and California.  All four hosts automatically advance to the Championship Rounds (regardless of the outcomes at the regionals), so there is a very good chance that the Dawgs will get a game against a team from this year’s NCAA Tournament (either Missouri or the Irish).

On December 17th, Georgia is tentatively set to travel to Southern Cal to take on the Trojans (another 2011 tourney team).

The Dawgs should also have road games at both Colorado and Xavier (another 2011 tourney team).

Georgia now has two scholarships available with the departures of Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie.  Hopefully Coach Mark Fox can find a JUCO talent to add to next year’s roster before the summer.

At the very least, he could work on getting some rematches set up with Arkansas State, High Point, Charleston Southern and Eastern Kentucky…

What happened?

I was in the car all day today driving to Wilmington, NC so I was unable to listen or watch the game on ESPN360.  I did check the score and saw that UGA got whipped by Missouri 89-61.

The box score said that Mizzu had 16 steals and forced 23 turnovers, and that Thompkins was in foul trouble most of the game.

Did anybody watch or listen to the game?  If so, fill us in on what went wrong…

Up Next: Missouri

Last season, the Missouri Tigers won the Big 12 Tournament Championship and reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament (oh yeah, and they beat the Dawgs in Athens 83-76).

They lost their top 3 scorers from that team, but they haven’t dropped off that much.  Mizzu is currently 10-3 and riding a 5-game win streak that includes an 81-68 victory over the two team’s common opponent – The Fighting Illini.  The Tigers are 8-0 at home this season, and are actually in the midst of a 27-game home winning streak that dates back to the 2006-2007 season.

Nervous yet?

We are just getting started…

This Mizzu team plays tenacious full-court pressure and they are deep.  Nine out of ten Tigers have reached double-figures in scoring so far this season, and ten different players are averaging 10.8 minutes per game.

The Tigers are currently ranked #2 in the country in steals at a blistering 12.7 per game, and they have reached DOUBLE-FIGURES in steals 11 out of 13 games!  This is an unbelievable statistical accomplishment…Furthermore, Mizzu is forcing opponents into 21.8 turnovers a game and scoring an average of 28 points off those turnovers.

They are holding opponents to an ugly 38.5% from the field, and Mizzu is only surrendering 62.8 points a contest (they are scoring 83.8 per game themselves).  Their defensive leader is 6’3″ senior point guard  J.T. Tiller, who last year was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year…Guess where Tiller is from?  Marietta, GA…he claims he wasn’t offered by any schools  in Georgia (nice job D. Felton).

On the offensive side of the ball, the Tigers are hitting 47.1% of their field goal attempts along with 40.8% from behind the arc.  They are led by smooth-shooting sophomore guard Kim English who is averaging 16.8 per contest.  Missouri’s scoring is so balanced that I think it would be silly to list all the guys and their point averages cause it looks something like this – 10, 10, 9, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 5.

The only chink in the armor that I could find in this team is that they tend to get out rebounded…Missouri is averaging 36.5 rebounds per game but opponents are beating them out at 37.5.

Keys to the Game

  • Hit the Boards – In two of Missouri’s three losses this season, they were significantly out rebounded by their opponents…in an 89-83 loss to Vanderbilt, the Commodores grabbed 46 rebounds to the Tigers 25.  Against Oral Roberts, Mizzu lost the rebounding battle 28 to 36 and were beaten 60-59.  Georgia does have a big front court (Thompkins, Jackson, Barnes, Price), and those guys need to really assert themselves and give the Dawgs an advantage inside.
  • Slow It Down – Missouri wants to press full-court all day and rattle opponents into turnovers.  Williams, Ware and McPhee need to be prepared (actually the whole team does) to play strong with the ball and get it across half court.  If Georgia can handle the pressure and limit turnovers they will slow down Mizzu’s momentum.  Once the ball crosses half court, I want to see the Dawgs use most of the shot clock.  Mizzu wants this thing to turn into a chaotic track meet that will enable them to get a bunch of easy fast-break points.  The Dawgs need to slow this game down and “ugly” it up a bit.

The game tips off Saturday at 4:00PM ET. We’ll have to listen to this one on 750AM, unless you are planning on either going to the game or you are a subscriber to the Missouri Sports Network (it might be on ESPN360 as well).

I think this is going to be the Dawgs toughest opponent yet (especially since UGA is still searching for its first road win)…any other thoughts?  Can Georgia extend it’s current win streak to four games?