Arkansas at Georgia: Will Recent History Repeat Itself?

Can Georgia rebound against Arkansas?  Will there be a hangover?

There’s a leader on this Georgia Basketball Team who commands the attention of the team – it is Mark Fox.  There’s no getting around Fox’s whims and it is Fox’s way or the highway for better or for worse.  Can Fox’s way get it done against Mike Anderson’s Arkansas Razorbacks?  This is a game that offers many questions and the answers may not come with any result from tonight’s battle.

Why does Arkansas struggle so much on the road under Mike Anderson?

If you have watched Arkansas play during the Mike Anderson era, there’s a noticeable difference between the way Arkansas plays at Bud Walton Arena versus any other venue.  Arkansas’ Fastest 40 Minutes claim is a softening of Nolan Richardson’s 40 Minutes of Hell.   Arkansas’ Full Court Press is not the most intense in the country and it certainly is not the most harassing either.  This is the style of play the Hawg faithful have come to expect from their coaches, but it is usually reserved for Bud Walton Arena.

It’s unusual, but Arkansas does not press after baskets as much on the road.  Arkansas’ inability to wear down opponents on the road and have that accumulation effect in the last eight minutes of games when the team is capable of going on a 16-0 run is eliminated outside of Bud Walton Arena.  Strangely, it seems to be a choice for Arkansas Head Coach Mike Anderson.

Arkansas this season is 0-4 in road games and 3-1 in neutral site affairs.  The unwillingness to press in these road games is evident by the inability to get steals.

Arkansas’ Seasonal Road Records under Mike Anderson:

  • 2011-12:  1-9
  • 2012-13:  1-9
  • 2013-14:  3-7
  • 2014-15:  7-5
  • 2015-16:  3-8
  • 2016-17:  6-5
  • 2017-18:  0-4

Arkansas has been to the NCAA Tournament twice with Mike Anderson as Head Coach and the team has sported a winning road record in both of those seasons.  Right now, Arkansas is on the wrong track even though they are currently a projected NCAA Tournament team on Bracket Matrix and the top bracketologist in the country, Dave Ommen over at Bracketville has them slated as a #10 seed as of January 22, 2018.  Who else is projected as a #10 seed by Bracketville?  Georgia.

If you pay attention to Joe Lunardi, STOP.  Take a look at his track record, he’s unreliable.

Arkansas at Home and on the Road are TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT TEAMS

  • 2011-12 – Home Tempo: 72.98 possessions per game.  Road Tempo:  68.98 possessions per game.
  • 2012-13 – Home Tempo: 73.67 possessions per game.  Road Tempo:  69.19 possessions per game.
  • 2013-14 – Home Tempo: 76.02 possessions per game.  Road Tempo:  70.82 possessions per game.
  • 2014-15 – Home Tempo: 74 possessions per game.  Road Tempo:  69.78 possessions per game.
  • 2015-16 – Home Tempo: 74.61 possessions per game.  Road Tempo:  70.83 possessions per game.
  • 2016-17 – Home Tempo: 73.18 possessions per game.  Road Tempo:  71.78 possessions per game.
  • 2017-18 – Home Tempo: 74.76 possessions per game.  Road Tempo:  72.05 possessions per game.

Anderson might have picked up the tempo on the road over the past four seasons, but there is a noticeable difference.  The steals percentage and turnover rate is also different, which points to Arkansas’ reduced willingness to press in hostile atmospheres.

Strange as it may seem, media members on the Arkansas beat have finally pointed out this poorly hidden tendency.

  • 2011-12 – Home Steals %:  12.08% Road Steals %:  9.77%
  • 2012-13 – Home Steals %:  14.16%  Road Steals %:  10.88%
  • 2013-14 – Home Steals %:  11.72%  Road Steals %:  10.62%
  • 2014-15 – Home Steals %:  11.69%  Road Steals %:  9.71%
  • 2015-16 – Home Steals %:  10.85% Road Steals %:  8.16%
  • 2016-17 – Home Steals %:  11.20%  Road Steals %:  8.76%
  • 2017-18 – Home Steals %:  9.63%  Road Steals %:  5.5%

Arkansas is like Auburn in their ability to shoot threes (they are actually much better), draw fouls and play an offensively efficient game.  Their inability to avoid foul trouble is also like Auburn, they will put opponents at the Free Throw Line.

When on the road, Arkansas has allowed a Free Throws Made/Field Goals Attempted percentage of 35.98%.  At home, it is 24.41% and on neutral sites it is 26.33%.

Senior Point Guard Anton Beard and Power Forward Trey Thompson are banged up, but expected to be ready to go for the possible Bubble Buster Game in Athens.

Jaylen Barford, Daryl Macon and C.J. Jones are the three main three point shooters.  The problem is that Barford and Macon are adept at attacking the basket and setting up their teammates.  Both are very difficult to guard because of their shot distributions and they are as likely to take a three of the bounce as they would attack the rim.  C.J. Jones is a more traditional catch-and-shoot three point shooter.

Daniel Gafford is the major force in the paint for the Hogs.  He’s a 6’11” 240 pound Power Forward who can block shots, rebound and shoot from within 10-15 feet of the basket.  However, Gafford will impress everyone with his dunking skills.  He’s 15/15 on putbacks and most of the putbacks are dunks.

Arkansas has lost four of their last six going into this game.  This is a must-win for them.

Georgia also must win this game.

Arkansas and Georgia will likely be fighting for the same spot in the NCAA Tournament and this is a game that could separate the two squads.  This is their only meeting, which means there’s no opportunity for redemption unless it comes in St. Louis.

Losing to Arkansas puts Georgia in a precarious position.  Georgia would need to defeat Florida at Stegeman Coliseum in order to prevent a case of failed history repeating.  It bears repeating, but Mark Fox has never defeated Mike White in his career.

A win provides a feel-good opportunity to prepare for a road game at Kansas State, which may also be another Bubble Buster of a game.

If Georgia’s per game scoring and rebounding distribution this season looks familiar, it should.  It’s just like 2012-13, but with better results.

KenPom Metrics for Georgia in 2012-13.  Georgia was a slow paced team that was defensively oriented and struggled on offense.  Just like the 2017-18 Dawgs.

The 2017-18 KenPom Metrics for Georgia.

The Half Court Offense is tight and controlling with an emphasis on making the prescribed pass regardless of the consequences.  The two sets are what they are and nothing is changing there.  Fox likes his team playing at a plodding pace and wants them to shoot a lot of jump shots, this is the trend over the past three seasons.

This team makes the least effort to score at the rim out of all of the Mark Fox coached teams in Athens.  This is the most successful mid-range shooting team out of all of his teams with a 40.1% Field Goal rate in this zone.

Georgia is a team that is rather passive on the offensive end and the decision to slow the offense down and run sets is done from a position of weakness rather than strength.  It results in turnovers and missed shots.  The best shots are unfortunately on putbacks and second chance opportunities, which says a lot about the team’s lack of comfort and freedom on offense.  The idea of help defense to keep a guard from pushing through to the hoop is non-existent against Georgia.

The ideal score for this Georgia Team was probably achieved against Alabama, a 65-46 win.  Georgia Basketball is about sucking the energy out of the game and playing a style that sucks the energy out of the crowd.  It’s a deliberate and methodical way of playing Basketball and it is much like the way a less talented team opts to play slop ball against their opponent to muck things up.

Teams like Wisconsin, Virginia, Saint Mary’s, Michigan, Princeton and Notre Dame have offenses predicated on ball movement and movement without the ball.  They are all patient teams that force opponents to defend their offense for 30 seconds or by the time they get an high percentage opportunity within the offense.  Their pace of play is from a position of strength.  Georgia does not run continuity sets, there are sequences that last 15 seconds and if they fail there’s a turnover or a really awful ball screen in the two man game.  Georgia does not really run much Triangle anymore, the offense has been watered down and the sequences run presently are actually from the Mark Gottfried playbook as strange as it may sound.  North Carolina State last season ran the two sequences that Georgia runs and other sets that are beyond what Georgia runs.

There’s a lot of memorization and choreography in Georgia’s offense, which is why it is so deliberate and even downright predictable.  It’s about hitting marks rather than reading the situation.

How Mark Fox treats his team is indicative of what he thinks of his team’s talent level.  Fox has an NCAA Tournament Bubble Team, but he treats the team like they are two years away from an NCAA Tournament berth.  Fox recruited his backcourt without a vision and even signed someone that he really was not targeting at all.  Fox’s trouble recruiting guards in Atlanta has kept him from getting the most seasoned and ready Freshmen.  Teshaun Hightower is the most “Fox-ready” Freshman Point Guard since Charles Mann and not surprisingly, he’s from the Atlanta metro area.

There is a definite learning curve for Guards coming from South Georgia, but it does not preclude them from success AT ALL.  In South Georgia, players only get the opportunity to face the best competition in AAU action and that is dependent upon making it on the right AAU team and circuit.  It is why Ashton Hagans is such a big deal for Georgia, he’s a top talent at Point Guard from the Atlanta metro area who has faced nothing but top competition.

It took 1 1/2 seasons for J.J. Frazier to get going in Athens and he played with a constant chip on his shoulder.  Frazier played fearlessly, had a tireless work ethic and did not let his size typecast him.  He had a shot distribution that made him a threat to do just about anything and he fought on the boards, there will probably never be another J.J. Frazier to wear a Georgia uniform.  He was that unique and dedicated to his craft.

At some point, someone has to just step up and Teshaun Hightower has done it even though he has been constrained.  Hightower needs to just be himself and attack the basket at-will.  More Free Throw Attempts and points at the rim is what the team needs.  Hightower needs to improve his Free Throw Shooting and could improve from beyond the arc, but if he can just pretend to be Charles Mann and defend like he has this season, he leaves Mark Fox with no alternative.

What to Expect Tonight

Arkansas is not going to be Bud Walton Arena Arkansas, they need this win, but they will fail to show up.  Quick turnaround and travel all the way to Athens makes this a challenge, even in front of a crowd that will be rather docile.

Arkansas’ lack of defensive aggression will give Georgia opportunities to lull them to sleep and earn the win.  If Georgia has a hangover loss, the season is poised for a Death March and a February filled with experimentation and innuendo.  Mark Fox is not going anywhere, give it up people.  There are only two ways out of this and e-mailing Greg McGarity is not the way to do it (it’s lame and ineffective, just like him).  Either you’re going to have to uncover something or there’s an interesting alternative to be discussed at another time, you can thank the Republican Congress and President Trump for this really cool alternative to be a possibility.

Prediction:  Georgia 65  Arkansas 60

And now here’s translated from English to Catalan to Hawaiian to Basque to Korean to Spanish and back to English in Google Translate.  Here’s the Classic Fight Song… “State of Arkansas”.

Catch this line! Catch this line!
To continue
Go to the forum on the site!
Rah is happy! Rah!
Do not scare La. Rah!
Arkansas will never leave!
Thumbs, Razorbacks, and finally,
Follow all your strength!
Please, do not do A-A-R-K-A-N-S-A-S.
Hawaii
Fight with the prosecutors!

3 comments

  1. Nothing would surprise me tonight in terms of the outcome. I’m hopeful UGA will win because of Arky’s road woes. They haven’t been that impressive at home either – their 3 conference wins have come by a total of 8 points.

    This really is a huge game for us. Losing two in a row at home in conference is never s good thing, particularly when you’re in year 9 like Mark Fox and you’re still struggling to generate interest in your mediocre and often boring product on the court.

    Win or lose this game, I think we are facing an almost certain loss at K-State on Saturday. They are really starting to put it together with 4 wins (Oklahoma, OK Stare, TCU and Baylor) in their past 5 games. The one loss was by 1 at Kansas.

  2. I’m hoping Arkansas’ speed and press will make uga play faster than mark fox wants them too. I’ve been trying to find the best analogy for mark fox’s offense. The obvious is Hackman in Hoosiers and his “five passes” before you take a shot but I might have found a better one. Mark Fox coaches as if he’s at the YMCA coaching a team of all white guys that were former college players. He slows them down and hinders their athletic talent by making them play within an annequated system from the 50s. That’s what coaches used to do when the other team was more athletic and more talented….tells you what he thinks of his players.

  3. Fox does it again-looses another SEC game and gives Arkansas their first road win. This guy can not get the job done—time to go

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