UGA Game Recap
It was never going to be an easy task – a probable must win on the road on Senior Day for the opponent with your best big man (Yante Maten) injured. That’s what the Dawgs faced in Fayetteville against the 22-8 Razorbacks. On top of that, coming into the game UGA was 1-9 against Top 50 RPI teams this season, which seems to be a theme under Mark Fox. The Dawgs record against good teams (defined as teams in the top 50 RPI) under Fox is truly awful.
All that said, the first half went pretty well. The Dawgs started in a man-to-man defense but switched quickly to a zone with which the Hogs had some difficulty. UGA handled Arkansas’s soft press early on, took smart shots and ran out to a 21-14 lead at the 8:52 mark. But errors began to creep in – big men gave up wide open dunks or tried to dribble in traffic only to have the ball stolen; shot clock violations (plural) occurred; Derek Ogbeide stepped over the line when inbounding the ball for a turnover; poor passes were made; poor interior defense led to easy baskets…. Yet, the Dawgs were only down 38-37 at the break after JJ Frazier hit two free throws late in the half. UGA had shot 38% in the half and were only 1-8 on three pointers. Frazier, who finished with 24 points, had 11 at the half and Ogbeide had 10. Juwan Parker also had a solid half with 6 points and 7 rebounds. Unexpectedly, the Bulldogs outrebounded the Hogs by 4 in the first half, 8 of which were offensive rebounds which enabled the Dawgs to keep it close.
Unfortunately, the second half was all Arkansas. A 15-4 run from Arkansas opened the second half put the Bulldogs behind by 12. Once Frazier picked up his 4th foul at the 15:07 mark in the half, it was obvious the Dawgs were in trouble. With JJ hampered by foul trouble, the Dawgs could mount no offense to challenge the surging Hogs, and the defense could get no stops. By the 3:26 mark, the Hogs were shooting a sizzling 63% from the field, with UGA shooting a mere 22%. The lead was stretched to 20 points with 2:00 minutes left on the clock, and the final margin was 85-67. The Dawgs were drubbed inside 48-22, and Arkansas had 4 players in double figures, while the Dawgs could manage only 2, showing just how much Maten was missed. JJ was not very efficient (except at the foul line where he was 13-13) with his offense in the game, and he got very little help from his teammates. No team will likely win when three of the starters go for 4, 5, and 6 points respectively.
Stating the obvious, Fox said after the game, “We started the second half poorly. We had four fouls within the first two minutes of the half and just didn’t start the second half well. They took that momentum and ran with it. We just didn’t defend and rebound today anywhere near to a level that would allow us to win against a top-50 team on the road. This is the first time that we could not find a lineup that could not score and get stops. We just couldn’t find that formula today. We are obviously very banged up, and this is the first time I thought it really got to us. Give Arkansas credit. They have a team that coming in we felt like was a lock for the NCAA Tournament. We just couldn’t find the group today that could get stops, and that really cost us, especially in the second half.”
UGA finishes 18-13 on the season and 9-9 in the SEC. It would take a miracle run reminiscent of the Atlanta tornado SEC tourney of 2008 for Georgia to make the NCAA tournament. I am not expecting tornadoes in Nashville next week. So, a lost afternoon in Fayetteville for the Dawgs – mine was only improved by a viewing of the new movie “Logan”.