Georgia was able to get revenge in a dominant win over an outclassed Tennessee Basketball Team.
Tennessee did not challenge Georgia the way Auburn and Kentucky did, but unselfish offense and defensive intensity from Georgia played a huge role in how this game turned out. It was an effort from the Georgia Bulldogs that had not been seen in 2020 and the takeaways are that Georgia needs to play the same way the rest of the season and that Sahvir Wheeler needs to be healthy. It was as complete of a performance as Georgia has played this season against a power conference program during Tom Crean’s tenure. It was a team effort that took down the Tennessee Volunteers, even though Anthony Edwards certainly put on a show. What made Edwards’ performance different this time around was that Georgia was able to win in a blowout and that Edwards was able to play efficiently within the half court and secondary offense.
But First… Sahvir Wheeler’s Apparent Ankle Injury
Sahvir Wheeler ripped a defensive rebound from Uros Plavsic with 9 minutes remaining in the Second Half and his knee collided with Plavsic’s knee, as Wheeler’s foot made contact with the floor, Wheeler’s ankle looked to have turned. Wheeler limped and dribbled on one foot up the floor until a timeout was called due to Wheeler’s inability to continue in the game. Wheeler did not return to the game and training staff immediately worked with him as he came off the floor.
Wheeler is incredibly important to this Georgia Basketball Team and his ability to disrupt and distribute played a big role in this win. Wheeler’s recovery from injury will play a major factor in Georgia’s success during the rest of conference action.
Anthony Edwards Broke Tendencies
Outside of three shot attempts, Anthony Edwards played within Tom Crean’s half court and secondary break offense as he should have. Edwards was much more efficient and unpredictable to the Tennessee players on defense because he broke the tendencies that were expected of him.
- Edwards used his inefficient Hero Ball shooting tendencies and broke them by faking jump shots off the dribble and instead making jump passes to set up his teammates. The best example was his pass from the wing to a cutting Christian Brown to draw Tennessee into bonus territory.
- Rather than settling for three point shots at the top of the key off the dribble, Edwards attacked the rim.
- Opponents are used to Edwards camping out on the three point arc, but this time around, Edwards cut to the rim on the baseline as an option for Sahvir Wheeler on a dribble drive.
- Rather than take a challenging 18 foot jump shot from his left hand side when driving toward the elbow, Edwards kicked it out to an open Rayshaun Hammonds once he established himself inside the perimeter.
- Edwards did not stop and pop a three point shot in transition, he simply attacked the rim since Tennessee’s transition defense was handing opportunities to Donnell Gresham Jr.
Edwards’ engagement within the offense, alertness in transition, and unselfishness on offense spurred his defensive efforts. There were no defensive lapses or matador defensive efforts. Edwards’ defensive stance was more fundamentally sound and his footwork was much improved. This was the sort of performance that Georgia was expecting from Edwards and not the disgusting “me-first” type of play that was seen in the first three games of 2020.
Tom Crean’s offense is designed to get efficient shots at the rim and set up shooters properly. Hero Ball kills the offense.
Improved Defensive Effort
Tennessee is a poor three point shooting team much like Georgia, they came into the game with a 31.6% three point shooting percentage, Georgia held them to 23.1%. Georgia did not do a good job defending Josiah Jordan-James on the perimeter in the first ten minutes of the game and Tennessee was able to make three point shots, but this changed for the other 30 minutes of the game. Shots were contested and missed, rebounds were made, and second chance points were limited. Georgia had a 71.1% defensive rebounding rate, which compared to the past two games is a massive improvement, but there is still a long way to go to becoming a better team on the glass.
Tennessee was able to get 16 second chance points, 5 of which were in the Second Half. There is still much to improve on the defensive glass for Georgia.
Georgia forced Tennessee to take more jump shots and this meant less Free Throws for the Volunteers to attempt. Shot selection was not the only story, Georgia was forcing live ball turnovers and turning them into points on the other end. Was it a perfect performance as far as forcing enough turnovers? Certainly not, but 9 steals and a 13.7% steals rate is very encouraging. Jordan Harris, Donnell Gresham Jr., Rayshaun Hammonds, Christian Brown, and Sahvir Wheeler were very active in disrupting idle dribbling and jumping the passing lanes.
Georgia won the points off turnovers battle 10-6, which is still inefficient considering that Georgia forced 9 live ball turnovers.
Tyree Crump’s Struggles Continue
Jaykwon Walton was on the bench in street clothes with concussion-like symptoms. Walton would certainly have received minutes later in this game if he was healthy, he is expected to return. However, Crump played a very disappointing game where he was given a few good shot opportunities and took a few bad shot opportunities. Crump had a terrible series leading into the 8 minute media break where the team had transition opportunities and set up Crump along the wing and the corner. Crump missed three straight opportunities like this on three straight possessions (one of which his foot was on the three point line), which was part of a scoreless stretch that lasted 4:07.
Crump’s Boxscore Plus/Minus was -11.9 and his misses led to fouls and opportunities on the other end for Tennessee that were not exploited. Georgia caught a massive break in this respect, other opponents would have made an effort to cut the lead down and see if this young team would tighten up.
Above was his shot chart and it is not pretty. Crump is 29.8% from three point range this season and he has an offensive efficiency rating of 95.9. His teammates want to give him opportunities, but the opportunities are not shots he has proven he can make with consistency. He is a one-dimensional player.
Jordan Harris and Rayshaun Hammonds Played Very Well
As Hammonds goes, Georgia goes. If Harris plays well, this makes Georgia an even better team. Harris’ shot selection is extremely strong and on defense, he is a disruptive defender who makes big plays happen. Harris showed his ability to attack the rim and draw fouls, he will need to do this more often.
Hammonds’ 21 points obscure the fact that he took three excellent three point shots and went 4/5 from the Free Throw Line. He was able to play through foul trouble in the First Half and avoided fouling in the Second Half, he was the leader in Boxscore Plus/Minus for Tom Crean’s Dawgs tonight and this is always a good sign. Hammonds’ name is always floated with the NBA Draft and tonight’s performance helped him make a better case for himself. The best part is that much like Edwards, he was able to do it within the offense and played effective defense both inside and out.
What You and The Media Missed
- Mike Peake and Rodney Howard did not play tonight. Georgia played 9 deep and with Sahvir Wheeler’s injury (evaluated as day-to-day), the team’s depth will be challenged going forward.
- Toumani Camara needs to improve on defense in the low post against a player looking to re-post. Camara had a solid 3/4 front on Uros Plavsic, but on the re-post was far too slow to denying Plavsic the ball in the low block. Camara was not able to 3/4 front on the re-post and given his length and athleticism, when Plavsic went out of the key should have full fronted him to fully deny him.
- Another Camara nugget you missed. Camara aggressively attacked the basket from the wing off the dribble. He is getting more comfortable as an offensive player and seeing opportunities to exploit.
- Georgia attempted 8 out of their 57 shots from the mid-range, which is absolutely wonderful. A 14% mid-range attempt rate means the shot quality taken is likely very good.