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Post Georgia’s short-lived stay at the top of the mountain

Thursday January 13, 2011

If Georgia wanted to build on their upset of Kentucky, the SEC schedule wasn’t going to make it easy. Georgia’s first SEC road game of the year was at one of the league’s most difficult venues, and the recent winter storm meant that Georgia would have to make the long bus trip rather than the short flight to Nashville. There are more specific reasons why Georgia lost, but they never looked all that sharp and fresh. Vanderbilt jumped out on the Dawgs, withstood several comeback attempts, and held on for a 73-66 win in Nashville.

Georgia found themselves with three big problems:

  • After a quick 4-of-7 start from behind the arc, Georgia hit just one of their next 14 three-point attempts. Mark Gottfried was exactly right calling Georgia’s early success from outside “fool’s gold.” Once the outside shots stopped falling, Georgia’s only remotely consistent offense was Robinson’s penetration or Leslie’s mid-range game.
  • The Dawgs got only 5 points combined from the point guard or post positions. For a team as strong up front as Georgia is, it’s stunning that Barnes and Price could only have two points between them. But that’s what happens when you have more combined fouls (9) than shot attempts (8). Neither could stay in the game long enough to establish a presence, and Vandy was able to focus most of their defense on trapping Thompkins (with great success). It also wasn’t Dustin Ware’s best game. No Bulldog attempted more three-pointers, but Ware could only knock down one late in the second half.
  • Georgia only got 7 points from the bench. That in itself isn’t a sign of trouble (Vandy only got 5 bench points), but when 40% of your starting lineup isn’t producing points, the scoring has to come from somewhere.

And yet this was a seven-point game. A lot of that had to do with Leslie and Robinson playing some of their better ball of the season, but Vandy also left the door open. They only shot 42%, and Georgia had several chances to make the ending interesting after Ware’s lone three-pointer cut the deficit to seven with under four minutes remaining. But Leslie and Robinson could only carry the team so far. Thompkins was frustrated by the doubleteam, and he had no help inside thanks to the foul situation of the posts.

The disparity in fouls is going to draw some attention, and it should. But Georgia came by a lot of those fouls honestly. Whether it was the long bus ride, the unfamiliar arena, or just an off-night, the Dawgs were often a step slow on defense whether it was on the initial move to the basket or rotating over to help. That left the Dawgs in plenty of situations where they were out of position, and that’s when fouls happen.

There’s a temptation to bring expectations down to earth now that the winning streak is over and point out that any team can get up for the big home games. I don’t know that last night was so much of a letdown as it was a case of some very specific things going wrong against a decent opponent. They were knocked from the top of the standings, but none of that matters two games into the conference schedule. Conference road games are tough – just ask Duke. Georgia might not have impressed many people last night, but they can by bouncing back in another big road game on Saturday. The posts will have to be smarter about their fouls, the outside shots will have to be more efficient and timely, and Georgia will have to a better job on Chris Warren than they did John Jenkins.

One Response to 'Georgia’s short-lived stay at the top of the mountain'

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  • 1. Georgia needs to show a little more interest in defending.
    2. Without better perimeter shooting, teams are going to zone and close off the inside.