Arkansas overpowers Georgia 85-67

Georgia’s string of miraculous finishes orchestrated by J.J. Frazier came to a screeching halt today in Hogville as Arkansas punished the Dawgs 85-67 in Fayetteville this afternoon.  A game that was close for the first twenty minutes quickly spiraled out of control for UGA as Arkansas began to assert its will both offensively and defensively.  Georgia followed up a 38% first half effort from the floor by shooting just 25% after the break, while Arky made over 60% of its shots in the game’s final twenty minutes.

The Razorbacks started the second half with a 10-2 run that saw their 38-37 halftime lead blossom to 48-39 with 17:30 left.  With a little over 15 minutes remaining, J.J. picked up his 4th foul and had to sit with his team trailing 53-44.  Arkansas brutalized the Dawgs in Frazier’s absence, going on a 9-2 run that put them up 62-46 with 11:46 remaining.  Frazier would return, but it would not matter.  The Hogs continued to score without much resistance and coasted to a relatively easy home win.

UGA’s defense failed big time on Saturday.  The Dawgs’ zone looked out of sorts all afternoon, especially on defending cutters inside the lane.  Georgia’s rotations by its help defenders were basically nonexistent, and Arkansas took advantage by racking up a whopping 48 points in the paint.  The Razorbacks had 4 players finish in double-figures, and they shot over 55% from the field as a team.  Maybe the Dawgs came into this game focused on locking down the perimeter, since Arkansas is the best three-point shooting team in SEC play.  UGA managed to hold the Hogs to just 21% from beyond the arc, but it didn’t matter as Arky had a field day accumulating a plethora of easy baskets in the lane.

For Georgia, the sledding wasn’t nearly as simple on offense.  The Razorback defense consistently pushed the UGA guards out well beyond the three-point arc, which forced the Dawgs into a number of off-balanced shots.  Frazier led all scorers with 24 points, but he had to work hard for them as he routinely was the target of traps whenever he came off ball screens on the perimeter.  Arkansas is much more talented than Alabama, LSU and Auburn.  J.J. needed help on the outside, but he didn’t get it.  Tyree Crump and Juwan Parker each shot 2 for 10 from the floor, and Turtle Jackson connected on just 2 of his 7 attempts.  As amazing as Frazier has been in the past three wins, he wasn’t able to do it alone against a more talented Razorback defense.

The only other Bulldog to score in double-digits was Derek Ogbeide, who finished with 12 points to go along with 7 rebounds.  He scored 10 of those points before the break, and then Ogbeide sort of disappeared in the second half as the Razorbacks ratcheted up the pace of this game.

Andy Katz labeled this one as a must win for Georgia if they hoped to earn an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament.  With the loss, it would seem that UGA would need to reach the finals of the SEC Tournament to receive serious consideration for the Big Dance.  The fact of the matter is that Georgia really doesn’t have many significant wins on its resume.  Vanderbilt is the only RPI Top 50 team that the Dawgs have beaten this year.  To play on into March in the only tournament that matters, Georgia probably needs to notch a couple of RPI Top 50 wins next week.

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Dawgs survive late scare from Hogs

Georgia won a game it had to on Saturday, besting the Arkansas Razorbacks (9-10) 76-73 in overtime in Athens.

This Arkansas team did beat Vanderbilt in OT, and they lost by two the road against LSU earlier in the month.  But, the Hogs also lost to Akron and Mercer back in the 2015 part of the season.

While this Razorback team did play aggressive man defense for much of the night, Georgia should not have had to work so hard to escape at home.

The Dawgs seemingly had this one wrapped up in overtime following a layup by Yante Maten that put his team up 74-68 with only 31 seconds left.  However, Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann missed their next four free throws, which put Arkansas in a position to tie the game with 6 seconds remaining. Fortunately for UGA, Anthlon Bell’s half court prayer fell way short, giving Georgia the victory.

The Dawgs were very fortunate to even see OT.  After falling behind 64-62 with 47 ticks on the clock, Georgia’s J.J. Frazier earned a trip to the line with an opportunity to tie the game.  Both Frazier’s attempts clunked off the rim, but luckily for the Dawgs Arkansas’s Moses Kingsley fell down securing the rebound, giving UGA the ball via a traveling violation.

Frazier scored on the ensuing possession to tie the game, but the Hogs still had possession with a chance to win and just 24 seconds remaining.  Coach Anderson’s team couldn’t capitalize though, tossing the ball out of bounds off of a deflection by Kenny Paul Geno.  The culmination of both of those extremely fortunate plays enabled UGA to see overtime, which ultimately led to the win.

Offensively, the Dawgs were carried by Frazier, who scored a team-high 26 points.  Georgia’s offense is so dependent upon Frazier right now it’s scary.  Without him, well, it’s just hard to imagine what that might look like.

Yante Maten went for yet another double-double, netting 17 points to go along with 12 rebounds.  Kenny Gaines was the only other UGA player to finish in double-digits, scoring 16 points.

The Hogs were led offensively by Dusty Hannahs, who dropped a team-high 24 points.

Charles Mann went 3 for 9 from the floor, which has become typical for him, ending up with only 8 points.

The Dawgs’ free throw shooting almost led to their demise in tonight’s contest as UGA hit just 53% from the charity stripe.  Georgia’s inconsistency at the line this season has left the door open for opposing teams in a number of games.

Georgia crushed Arkansas on the glass, winning the rebounding battle 46-36.  UGA did shoot the ball better than Arky (44% to 39%), so some rebounding discrepancy should be expected. However, Georgia had 13 offensive boards to the Hogs’ 9, yet the Dawgs had just 2 more second chance points.

Coach Mark Fox got only 2 points from his bench, while Mike Anderson saw his reserves score 21 points on the night.  Turtle Jackson, Kenny Paul Geno, Mike Edwards and Derek Obeide went a combined 0 for 4 from the field.  Edwards did manage to snag 7 rebounds, though. Still, Georgia must get more production from its bench going forward, or they are going to struggle, especially on the road.

Speaking of the road, UGA has two away games next week: a conference game at LSU and then a difficult non-conference matchup in Waco against Baylor.

While beating Arkansas did bolster Georgia’s overall record to 11-6 and 4-3 in the SEC, it did little to improve UGA’s NCAA stock.  The Razorbacks’s RPI is 100.

 

Winning in Baton Rouge would be great, but the Tigers possess an RPI of 95.  Earning a victory against a ranked Baylor team with an RPI of 15 – well, that would be amazing.

 

Hogs coming to Athens to take on Dawgs

Mark Fox’s Georgia Bulldogs (9-10 overall, 1-5 in the SEC) need an SEC win in the worst way.  After losing two straight and 5 of their first 6 conference games, the Dawgs need to build a little momentum before heading into Saturday’s game with #18 Vanderbilt.

Nothing like a trip back home to  shake off the cobwebs and get a couple wins.

Arkansas (10-11 overall, 3-3 in the SEC) comes into Athens riding a two-game winning streak, including an 80-73  win at Ole Miss last Sunday (their first road win of the season in four tries).

Don’t read to far into the Razorbacks’ losing record – they played the first 14 games of the season without sophomore starting point guard and leading-scorer Courtney Fortson.  Arkansas suspended Fortson indefinitely following his infamous tweet that poked lightly at an alleged rape that occurred on campus at an Arkansas fraternity.  Fortson was not involved in the incident, but was punished for his crass comment,  “Im gettin it at workouts like a dude who doesnt understand the word no from a drunk girl lol.”

Fortson had to learn the hard way that it’s probably not a good idea to make comedic observations about certain kinds of felonies.

But he is back now, and is averaging 18.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 6.3 assists in nearly 34 minutes per game.  It is safe to say that if Fortson did not own and use a Twitter account, the Razorbacks might have won games against Morgan State, East Tennessee State and South Alabama back in 2009.

The Hogs run a 3-guard attack that enables them to get out in the open court and run, run, run.  They will play a fast-paced game with a lot of full-court pressure, similar to the Nolan Richarson team’s that were known for their “40 Minutes of Hell” basketball.

Complimenting Fortson in the backcourt is sophomore guard Rotnei Clarke.  Clarke is netting 17.4 points a game in nearly 36 minutes, and he is shooting a blistering 47.7% from 3PT range.

The good news for Georgia is that Clarke is the only real threat that the Razorbacks have from beyond the arc.  As a team, Arkansas is shooting an icy 32.5% on 3-pointers in SEC games.  The Hogs’ field goal picture isn’t much prettier, as they are hitting only 40.4% in conference play.

Junior guard Marcus Britt rounds out the Razorback backcourt.  Britt is the starter, but senior Stefan Welsh and freshman Julysses Nobles play nearly as many minutes – all three are averaging just under 22 minutes a night.  Welsh and Nobles average 6.4 and 4.3 points per game, respectively.

Anchoring the frontcourt is senior center Michael Washington (6’9″) and freshman forward Marshawn Powell (6’7″).  Washington averages 13.3 points/6.0 rebounds, and Powell gives the Razorbacks 15.3 points/6.8 rebounds.  Both of these bigs run the court pretty well.

Keys:

Get out the Windex, and clean up the glass

Georgia is second in SEC play this season in both rebounding margin (+5.7) and offensive rebounds per game (13.5).  This is largely attributed to the Dawgs having one of the widest frontcourts in the country to go along with a guard that jumps out of the gym (Travis Leslie  is snaring 8.8 boards a game in SEC play!).

Arkansas is not quite as active on the glass – the Hogs are second to last in the conference with 10.5 offensive boards a game, and dead-last in rebounding margin at -7.5 a game.  I suppose that’s the price you pay when you choose to go with a three-guard lineup.

Georgia’s bigs should dominate the boards against Arkansas.  I want to see at least two Georgia players bring down over 8 rebounds apiece, and  I am expecting to see the Dawgs light-up the stat sheet line under “Second Chance Points”.

Please Protect the Ball

Georgia is averaging 15.3 turnovers a game, which ranks them at 259th in the country in this lovely category.  This means that the Dawgs’ opponents are taking more field goal attempts each game, giving them more scoring opportunities (UGA averages 53 FG attempts a game; opponents are averaging 57).    The only thing keeping Georgia close in FG attempts per game is that they offensive rebound so well.  The Dawgs are not talented or deep enough to be giving opposing teams five to six extra possessions every game (in SEC play, UGA is last in the conference with a -5.67 turnover margin).  Moving forward, every player on the Dawgs’ roster has to focus on taking care of the basketball.

More 3’s Please

Before the Tennessee game, I called on Trey Thompkins to start looking for more shots from behind the arc (he went 3-4 in that game).  Since then, Georgia has knocked down 21 of its 39 three-point attempts (that’s 53.8% for all of you without calculators).  The Dawgs are actually leading the conference in 3PT% in SEC play this season, shooting 42% as a team.  The problem is that Georgia ranks last in the conference in 3-point attempts with only 81.  Nine teams in the SEC have over 110 three-point attempts in conference play this season.  Georgia is shooting the long ball well, so let’s see them shoot it more!  In SEC games, Thompkins and McPhee are hitting 61.5% and 42.9% from three-point range, respectively.

Highway to the 2-3 Zone

Sorry for the “Top Gun” reference, I couldn’t resist.  Just as I hope Coach Mark Fox won’t be able to resist putting his team in a 2-3 zone against the Hogs.  As I mentioned, Arkansas does not shoot it well from the floor (only 40.4% on FG).  Georgia has a distinct size advantage on the inside.

Poor shooting opponent + UGA size advantage = 2-3 zone for the Dawgs.  UGA should pack it in and dare the Hogs to try to score from the outside.  Plus, this will make it all the more difficult for Arkansas’s guards to score on penetration since Ajax or Trey will be waiting on them.

The game tips off at 7:00PM and will be televised on CSS.

The Dawgs need this one bad…