Analyzing those 26 turnovers and a few other tidbits from UGA’s 98-88 win over Texas

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Let’s talk about those 26 turnovers…

Not many teams can turn the ball over 26 times and win by double-digits while almost eclipsing the century mark in points. Seriously, what UGA did today offensively was quite remarkable considering Texas entered this contest with the 36th best scoring defense in the country, at just over 65 points a game.

Obviously, the Dawgs were too careless with the basketball this afternoon, and it did hurt them as the Longhorns scored 26 points off turnovers. But, UGA fans must understand that Tom Crean wants this team to play up tempo every possession, and that doesn’t just mean that Georgia is moving the ball up and down the court at a fast pace (which it most certainly is). Crean wants the ball going in and out of players’ hands; he doesn’t want guys to hold the ball for too long because that gives the defense a chance to react. Furthermore, Crean also has his guys constantly cutting without the ball. All this motion, both with and without the ball, is going to result in additional turnovers, as it did today, and the giveaways will most likely continue as long as Georgia plays without a true point guard.

However, the Dawgs also dished out 25 team assists, shot nearly 71% from beyond the arc and hit 67% from the floor. So while the game felt sloppy at times, a lot of positives occured as well due to Crean’s style of play, and it’s clear he’s willing to live this way.

Playing fast is a good look for this Georgia team because it takes the pressure off the guards from having to facilitate offense in the halfcourt, which is much more difficult when a team’s major weakness, like UGA’s, is its backcourt. Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida and, to some extent, Auburn were all able to dictate Georgia’s pace by being the aggressors and applying pressure the length of the court. The Dawgs shot under 40% in all of those games except for the one on The Plains. Crean’s team will still be leading the SEC in turnovers per game after today, but I truly believe he has them in an offensive system that gives them the best chance to be successful this season.

The first half was fun, but…

I actually found the second half even more satisfying. UGA hit 8 of 12 three-pointers prior to the break, yet they still went into the locker room tied with Texas at 46 apiece. Georgia had only scored 12 points in the paint to Texas’s 20 prior to the intermission, and I definitely felt unsure as to where the Dawgs’ scoring would come from once the shots stopped falling from beyond the arc.

Oddly, UGA only shot 5 more three-pointers in the game’s final 20 minutes (of which they made 4). Instead, Georgia started to attack the rim, and they scored 22 points in the paint and connected on 16 of 18 free throws. The Dawgs shot a blistering 76% from the floor in the second half, another reason why they were able to win this game despite the turnovers.

The one stretch of game where Georgia was certainly on the verge of crumbling occurred around the midway point of the second half. With 12:28 remaining, UGA took a 68-60 lead on a jumper by Rayshaun Hammonds. It felt like Georgia was stuck on 68 for an eternity, and when Dylan Osetkowski put back one of his teammates’ misses, his Texas team had cut the UGA advantage to 70-66 with 8:27 left. During this agonizing 4 minutes of game, the Dawgs went 1 for 3 from the floor and gave the ball away 4 times. This seemed like it would be the moment when Texas would ride its momentum and seize the lead.

Instead, Tom Crean’s team connected on 5 straight field goals, including triples by Tyree Crump and Nic Claxton, and hit 4 of 5 from the line to build its lead to 87-75, which proved to be insurmountable for Shaka Smart’s team.

Foul trouble again for Rayshaun Hammonds

Hammonds had a productive afternoon as he scored 14 points and grabbed 9 boards in 29 minutes of play. However, the sophomore fouled out of today’s game, and he continues to trend upwards in the number personal fouls he accrues per contest. Hammonds, who averaged 24 minutes per game last year as well, committed 81 personal fouls all last season; he already has 62 this year, and the reason for the uptick in fouls is inexplicable considering that Hammonds must be aware of how little depth Georgia has behind him.

Welcome back Tyree

Tyree Crump’s 6 three-pointers were a career best for him in a game as a Georgia Bulldog. The junior now has 35 triples on the season, and he needs just 10 more to surpass last season’s total.

Today’s outburst will hopefully be the catalyst to get Crump out of a recent slump that saw him score 14 points over his last 3 games, all of them losses for the Dawgs.

Box score

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Georgia bounces back with a 59-57 win over Texas

When Derek Ogbeide’s lay-up off of J.J. Frazier’s airball was waved off by the officials with 7.8 seconds remaining, it felt like Georgia (13-8) was destined for more Saturday afternoon heartbreak.  Two weeks ago the Dawgs lost in overtime at Florida, and last week UGA blew a 9-point lead in the final two minutes to Texas A&M.  “Here we go again” had to be in the back of the minds of the fans inside Stegeman.  Even though Georgia showed Texas full-court pressure, the Longhorns still got the ball inside to their center Jarrett Allen, who shot a potential game-tying, last-second hook shot.  The ball briefly flirted with the idea of going in before eventually popping back out, and the Dawgs earned a much needed 59-57 home win that snapped a two-game losing streak.

The turning point in this game came right at the start of the second half, when Shaka Smart had his Texas (8-13) team take the floor in a man defense.  The Dawgs ate it up, feeding the ball to Yante Maten, who took advantage of going against just one defender and scored 4 points during an 8-0 UGA run that erased the Longhorn’s 32-23 halftime advantage.

Georgia played pretty well defensively throughout in this one.  It was the UGA offense, however, that was Jekyll and Hyde-ish on Saturday.  Smart’s decision to come out in man seemed curious since his Texas team had frustrated the bejesus out of the Dawgs before the break using primarily a 2-3 zone.  Georgia tried to shoot over the Longhorn zone, and that didn’t turn out too well for Mark Fox’s team as they mustered only 7 field goals prior to the intermission, none of which came from anywhere other than the paint.

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1st half shot chart: UGA’s shots are the red ones, and all those empty circles represent clunkers that the Dawgs tossed up from the outside.

But back to the second half.  The Dawgs’ offense became much more efficient as Georgia started actually knocking down open shots.  UGA followed up a 29% first half shooting performance by making a robust 52% of their shots after the break.

Mark Fox got key contributions from numerous players. Jordan Harris canned a pair of three-pointers.  Juwan Parker, who was forcing it a bit before the break, hit two big shots from the baseline late in the game that helped preserve the UGA lead.  Yante Maten, who led all scorers with 21 points, put the ball in the basket on a critical possession with less than a minute remaining to bolster the Dawgs’s advantage up to 59-56.

Georgia could have folded, but it didn’t.  The Dawgs managed to hang on and found a way to win, although Frazier certainly tried his best to make it interesting on UGA’s final possession when he took a highly contested baseline runner over two Texas defenders that air balled and ultimately resulted in the previously mentioned shot clock violation.

Hopefully this game helped to restore a little of Georgia’s confidence, which had to be hurting after the drubbing that Alabama put on this team on Wednesday, because boy are they going to need it.  On Tuesday night, UGA heads to Lexington to take on a feisty group of Cats that are now in the midst of a two-game losing streak of their own.

Georgia’s Maten continues to impress

12387097He always draws the opposing team’s best interior defender, and when he receives the ball on the block he usually gets double-teamed.  When Georgia faces zone, this player constantly gets swarmed by nearby guards, or anyone for that matter, when the ball is sent into him in the paint.  This player is Yante Maten, and through all this extra attention he has received on a nightly basis this season, he is still averaging just under 20 points and 8 boards a game.  Maten has logged 5 double-doubles this year already, and he’s scored 30 points or more three times.  The only game this season in which Maten did not eclipse the double-digit mark was against Oakland, and that was because he fouled out and played just 21 minutes.

Georgia’s lack of an outside game makes Yante’s stats this year even that more impressive.  Defenses would be more hesitant to throw the kitchen sink at Maten whenever he gets the ball inside if there was even the slightest threat that he had some legitimate three-point options to kick the ball back out to on the perimeter.  But alas, that is not the case for this UGA team, who is currently shooting 31.6% from beyond the arc, which ranks that an ugly 310th in the nation in three-point percentage.  UGA is barely making more than 5 three-pointers a game, which is 330th in the country.  Other than Jordan Harris, who’s hitting 42% of his perimeter shots, Georgia has only one other player connecting on over 35% from beyond the arc and that’s Maten (only counting players with more than 30 attempts)!  That’s right, Yante is the best outside shooter on UGA this season as well, making nearly 49% of his three-point shots. If only Maten could kick it back out to himself when he faces those pesky double-teams in the paint.

Tomorrow afternoon the Dawgs will host a Texas Longhorn team that is just 8-12 overall, but they did recently snap a five-game losing streak with a buzzer beater win over Oklahoma.  It should also be noted that their previous three losses came in competitive games with highly ranked Kansas, Baylor and West Virginia.  Texas gets after it defensively, holding opponents to under 42% from the floor.  The Longhorns have a big frontcourt that is getting 4.9 blocks per game, which is good enough for 50th in the country in that category.  Texas’s 6’11” starter Jarrett Allen and 6’10” reserve James Banks have a combined 60 blocks between them.  Surely Yante Maten will become quickly acquainted with both of these gentlemen shortly after 4pm Saturday.

Maten is going to once again have a lot to deal with in the paint tomorrow.  Coach Shaka Smart has a plan on how to neutralize him.  However, based on what I’ve seen from Maten so far this season, I don’t think it’s going to work.