Georgia punches Mississippi State in the mouth and walks away with a 66-57 win.
Yante Maten had a career night against Mississippi State’s depleted frontcourt and Georgia controlled the paint and glass. Georgia’s 2-3 matchup zone forced Mississippi State to become a jump shooting team and Derek Ogbeide made sure that the defensive glass was cleaned. Charles Mann attacked the basket and even hit a big three point shot in the second half to give Maten a complementary scoring partner. Mann was a bit carried away at the end enjoying his opportunities to shove and knock down Craig Sword.
Mississippi State was clearly overmatched from the tip in this one and Georgia just needed the opportunity to run away with it and did when Gavin Ware was in foul trouble. Yante Maten and Derek Ogbeide overpowered Johnny Zuppardo and Aric Holman, it really was not much of a contest. In the second half, Mike Edwards joined the party too. It was not a game for Kenny Gaines or J.J. Frazier to have the big production nights. Yante Maten completely dominated anyone in his path and scored 25 points. At one point in the second half, Yante was tied with Mississippi State.
The biggest disappointment of this game came in the last ten minutes as Georgia had the game in hand and the offense stagnated and stuck too much to the script. The passing along the perimeter is still a problem and it led to turnovers and horrible shots taken. The inbounds passes in reaction to a pressing Mississippi State Defense should have been alarming as they were clearly lackadaisical. Georgia played well enough to build a 22 point lead and to just take the foot off the gas and lose focus is a sign of a team that still has room to mature.
Quinndary Weatherspoon is clearly better than Malik Newman. Newman was completely unable to contribute on both ends of the floor and Weatherspoon showed his ability to drive and shoot. Craig Sword was the second most aggressive player on the floor for the Dogs and I.J. Ready was well scouted out by Mark Fox. Fox knows this Mississippi State roster rather well, it seems. How well, Ready took a shot from three point range and his defender and others rather than challenge the shot got into position to rebound. Ready is a sub-.200 3 point shooter and Georgia was ready for him.
Mississippi State forced Georgia with Georgia’s help to commit 20 turnovers, Mississippi State scored just over half of their points off Georgia’s turnovers. Georgia continuously shot themselves in the foot with the turnovers and still were the much better team. This game’s outcome does not show how big of a difference there was between the two squads. Georgia was far superior, but far too careless and even predictable. On the offensive end, there is a lack of awareness that exists, but there is also too much of a scripted nature and Mississippi State did not pick up on this until too late.
Winning the boards 45-35 against Mississippi State is expected, but the 68.75% defensive rebounding percentage is disconcerting especially considering how at Halftime this was much different. 85.7% at the Half, but 55.56% for the Second Half on the defensive glass is repulsive. Georgia was above average on the offensive glass for whole night, BUT 45% in the first half and 25% in the second half.
It was a very good night for the most part for this Georgia Basketball team, but finishing strong matters. Georgia did not finish strong against Auburn and then played a terrible game against Kentucky. This Georgia team does not have enough composure to handle success and is too unprepared to deviate from the script early in possessions when in a half court setting.
Georgia’s 2-3 matchup zone was extremely effective, but the team played too comfortably in it later in the game and let Mississippi State climb right back in. Vegas and many Georgia fans expected this to be a night where the Maroon and White Dogs would win, but anyone that has seen both teams would know that Georgia’s frontcourt would dominate and did.
The reaction to the Mississippi State press is worrisome because on Tuesday, Florida is going press Georgia for 40 minutes or more (possible Overtime). Charles Mann, J.J. Frazier and Kenny Gaines better be ready for it. It did not turn out so well on January 2 in Gainesville, it did not turn out well in the 2014 NIT against Louisiana Tech when Mike White’s team did it all game. Fox and his team have to nip this in the bud NOW. As seen tonight, Florida can be beaten in Gainesville. Florida’s press is not unstoppable and can certainly be solved. Why can’t Georgia do it?
34 of 66 points were scored in the paint and 22 of 32 points in the first half were scored in the paint. This set a tone and this should be the identity of this team once again. Scoring in the paint and in the restricted arc was a major part of the offense last season, but this season the offense is taking more 2 point jump shots and 3 point shots. The Georgia backcourt will need to play a bigger role in attacking the rim when the post entries are not there. The sets need to allow for more driving and cutting from the wing, driving from the top of the key and high post. The offense feeds into the defense and when the offense stagnates, the defense follows. This is an offense-first team in terms of psyche, Florida is going to look to shut that down on Tuesday. How will this team adjust and prevent that from happening?