Georgia’s depth, length, versatility and aggression were on full display against Temple.
Georgia whipped Temple 84-66 in a dominant performance from the first media timeout to the very end. No hero ball, no dramatics, no cold snaps, no passiveness and no need to #HODL late in the game. Georgia was aggressive and the familiar sets were reduced significantly. Was it a perfect performance? Certainly not, but this team can go into the Christmas Break feeling good about this win and take away several important lessons. Georgia’s depth and Mark Fox’s willingness to go 11 Deep has been a major bone of contention (but not here – depth is a viewed as a wonderful thing), but it is now a clearly a point of strength for this Georgia Basketball Team.
Georgia’s Depth Comes Through
As mentioned in the preview, Temple lacked depth and Georgia is extremely deep, athletic and versatile. Temple had no answers for the Georgia Frontcourt and had their issues facing Turtle Jackson and Jordan Harris. Georgia only played 10 today, which is surprisingly tight for Mark Fox.
Energy on the defensive end is absolutely necessary and to have that energy Georgia needed to play deep. Frustrating the Temple Backcourt, taking away interior cuts and removing post-up opportunities from the Temple Offense is challenging in the Man-to-Man, but Georgia was able to do that. Jordan Harris and Rayshaun Hammonds deserve a lot of credit on the defensive end denying opportunities. Nicolas Claxton, Yante Maten and Derek Ogbeide shut down and closed out possessions.
Jordan Harris’ minutes were not a surprise. Harris’ defensive intensity and willingness to disrupt kept him on the floor. It is hard to keep a guy off the floor who ends up getting 3 steals and 2 blocks. Harris did not make his three point attempts, but he made up for it by attacking the basket and defending.
The depth came through on the glass against a team that is terrible on the glass. Georgia kept rotating lineups that were able to get second chance opportunities and deny second chance opportunities for Temple. It was overwhelming and the difference in size and athleticism between the two teams was obvious.
Georgia won the Offensive Glass an astounding 47.06% of the time, which would make any coach happy. On the Defensive Glass, Georgia won it 72.72% of the time, which is rather average. However, Georgia was dominating the Defensive Glass in the First Half.
Tyree Crump did not play today and while his non-presence was obvious, it did not make a difference whatsoever in the outcome.
Chopping Up the Game
Georgia attempted an absurd 39 Free Throws against Temple. Temple opponents had attempted 14 Free Throws per game going into this contest. Georgia’s style of play was a major test for the Owls and it was obvious that Temple could not handle the physicality and aggression that Georgia played in the interior. With the exception of Ernest Aflakpui, Temple is not a team that commits a lot of fouls. This was very different today as Georgia’s desired style of play shined through and the Owls could not contain the Georgia Frontcourt.
Temple had three players foul out of the game, which for Georgia is Mission Accomplished. Georgia’s depth and Temple’s foul trouble forced Temple to play deeper than they were comfortable. Georgia played this game largely on their own terms and this meant not letting this game become a clean back-and-forth sort of a game. Georgia wanted the whistle blow a lot and Ted Valentine’s crew followed through with doing just that. Temple committed 26 fouls in a game where Temple was not looking to foul to get more possessions late in the game. The game was never in doubt and while Temple’s shot selection was largely jump shots, Georgia was just looking to attack the basket and get hacked while doing so.
It was obvious that Nicolas Claxton and Yante Maten just wanted it more on the offensive glass and they were rewarded for their efforts with Free Throws.
An Offense with More Liberty
Georgia has too often been stuck on the Man-to-Man sets. Today, the sets were de-emphasized to a large degree and Fox re-introduced sets that were not run as often. However, the majority of points scored and attempted shots came off more free-form opportunities. Secondary break attempts and action along with improvised action that came when the offense broke down or a double-team took place made the offense appear to have more flow. The team played less rigid on the offensive end and this resulted in an efficient, aggressive performance.
There were more dribble drives and reads made in this game than in any other game against Man-to-Man Defense. Temple took the risk of pressuring Derek Ogbeide at the top of the key when others would sag, which certainly helped when Georgia did run the 5-4 lob pass. However, this is not going to be a luxury that other teams will provide Georgia.
The worst possessions of the game came when the following things were happening:
- Yante Maten tried to do too much on his own when facing a wall of defenders.
- Sets were designed to specifically set up a three point shot.
- Georgia was pressed with the Run and Jump Press.
The cross screen with the stagger screen to set up a three point shot at the top of the key for the 2 or 3 in the offense has not worked very well this season. Especially with Rayshaun Hammonds and Jordan Harris. It was on display today as Hammonds and Harris were not in a good rhythm receiving their pass. It’s a bit of a gamble of a set considering it usually results in a three point shot attempt that either goes in or a rebound for the opponent due to no offensive players in the vicinity to crash the glass. Is it being operated from a favorable side for a left-handed shooter and does the set need to be flipped to accommodate Harris and Hammonds?
The best thing to do is just scrap it and set up perimeter shots from ball movement off double teams and taking advantage of help-defense efforts on the dribble drive.
Based on this game alone: What needs to be improved?
Pick and pop defensive situations. Georgia is going to have some difficulty with opponents who have a Combo Forward or use their 1-3 players to set a ball screen and fade for three point attempts. Obi Enechionyia burned Georgia’s defense on the ball screen and fade repeatedly. Combo Forwards like Enechionyia are always in demand because of their ability to draw out less capable face-up defenders to the three point line or shoot over smaller defenders on a switch.
Facing the Press. Georgia struggled with Temple’s Run and Jump Press late in the game. The 2-2-1 Zone Press was not much of an issue for the Georgia Offense, but Jordan Harris, Rayshaun Hammonds and Turtle Jackson had more drama than they wished against this pressure. Opponents like Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Auburn, Florida (to a lesser extent), Alabama and Mississippi State will come at Georgia with this sort of a press at some point in games. It’s actually interesting how Georgia improves at running zone defenses when they know they have to beat it on offense and the same could likely be said about the Full Court Press.
What’s to Come?
Georgia invades Big Blue Nation on New Year’s Eve. Barring a match-up in the SEC Tournament, Georgia will not face Kentucky until 2019. Take advantage of this opportunity and get your tickets to be a Red Dot in a Big Blue World, it’s like being a Republican in San Francisco. Kentucky will face Louisville two days before taking on the Dawgs, but Georgia will have another long break from playing action.
This Temple win will improve Georgia’s RPI (jumped to 53), but that UMass loss is definitely not negated. A win at Kentucky would offset that devastating loss at UMass, just be thankful that loss was on the road as it cushions the blow just a little bit. Georgia is not yet an NCAA Tournament team, but there’s plenty of games to be played and the most important games are the two games after making the trek to Rupp Arena to face John Calipari’s Wildcats. Ole Miss and Alabama are must-win games for Georgia. Georgia cannot afford to lose games at Stegeman Coliseum and definitely need a head-to-head edge over Alabama for both NCAA Tournament consideration and recruiting.
The next out-of-conference game will be Kansas State as part of the Big XII-SEC Challenge. Georgia won the last time the Dawgs entered the Octagon of Doom and Bruce Weber’s squad is certainly formidable.