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Post Kentucky: a football school

Thursday January 25, 2007

What an incredible comeback overtime win over Kentucky for the Georgia basketball team tonight.

They looked dead in the water in the first half. Kentucky led by as many as 17, scored 43 first-half points, and shot over 55% for the half. How was Georgia able to turn it around so dramatically in the second half?

  • Rebounding. Kentucky outrebounded Georgia in the first half. By the end of the game, Georgia had a 43-31 rebounding edge. Georgia outrebounded Kentucky by 15 in the second half alone. That’s pure effort. Very few of the Kentucky second half rebounds were on the offensive glass (I believe Coach Felton said it was as few as two). As a result, Kentucky only had 21 second half field goal attempts.
  • Getting Brown and Gaines going. After impressive showings at Alabama, it was disappointing to see Gaines with just three points and Brown with two points at halftime. What was most disappointing was that Randolph Morris got in foul trouble in the first half, and Georgia didn’t really attack inside. They attempted 15 first half three-point shots and hit only two. Georgia was choosing to play as a perimeter team, and failing at it, when Kentucky was vulnerable inside. That changed in the second half. Brown finished the game with a team-high 20 points as he asserted himself and his teammates got him the ball. Gaines likewise responded in the second half and finished with 19 points. Much of Gaines’s damage came attacking the basket; he hit only one three-point shot in regulation.
  • Help defense. Georgia’s aggressive defense relies a great deal on help and rotation, and they didn’t do it very well in the first half. Kentucky frequently went backdoor or found wide-open men on the weak side as the help was slow or nonexistent. The result was a shooting percentage over 55%. Georgia was much more active in denial of those passes in the second half, and it led to much more difficult shots for the Wildcats; they shot just 33% and scored just 22 points in the second half.

As impressive as the comeback was, they nearly squandered it at the end of regulation. Georgia again saw a lead fade in the final minutes as Kentucky came back from 65-60 to tie the game. The Bulldogs didn’t score in the final three minutes of regulation. Georgia again had the ball with a tie game and less than a minute left, and just as in Saturday’s game at Alabama, a way-off-target desperation heave by Gaines as the shot clock expired was the best shot they could manage. Fortunately Kentucky had less than a second to work with, and Georgia was able to regroup in overtime. Georgia’s going to have to get better at managing leads late in the game and making their final possessions count. It’s mattered in two straight games now and will surely come up again during the remainder of the season.

This big win moves Georgia to 4-2 in conference and has them tied for second in the East with Kentucky and a surprising Vandy team that has defeated three straight ranked opponents since losing at Georgia. Vandy’s latest conquest was LSU in Baton Rouge. Perhaps that’s a good omen – Vanderbilt beat Kentucky last weekend before the Wildcats came to Athens, and LSU will be next up for the Bulldogs this Sunday (right – Sunday at 3:00 and not Saturday).

One Response to 'Kentucky: a football school'

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  • The Vandy win just seemed like a decent win at the time. Now, it might actually start boosting our RPI. They all count.