A New Year Awaits as Georgia Takes on Austin Peay.
Tom Crean’s Georgia Bulldogs finish 2019 with a cupcake (or urinal cake) that provides little upside for the Dawgs outside of building confidence. The SEC had a decent weekend with Auburn remaining undefeated, Arkansas winning at Indiana, Kentucky letting Louisville find ways to lose at Rupp Arena, Alabama beating Richmond, LSU removing Liberty from the list of the undefeated, and no #SECBasketballFever to be had. The lone loss was an ugly one for Tennessee at Thompson-Boling Arena to scuffling Wisconsin. This game against Austin Peay serves as an opportunity for Georgia to grow and prepare for an important opponent in conference play.
Let’s Meet the Austin Peay Governors
Matt Figger is a former assistant under Frank Martin and he was able to get an opportunity at the lead chair at Austin Peay coming off South Carolina’s 2017 Final Four appearance. Figger was with Frank Martin as an Assistant Coach going back to his time at Kansas State and one can expect that Figger is stylistically in the same camp as Martin. Oklahoma State Head Coach Mike Boynton and Illinois Head Coach Brad Underwood have stylistic similarities to Martin. However, Martin has made some adjustments on the defensive end incorporating pack line concepts into his pressure man-to-man defense. Figger has not necessarily done this and neither have Boynton or Underwood.
Stylistic expectations from Figger:
- Pressure man-to-man defense with full court pressure, at times.
- Susceptibility to ball screens in the center 65% of the floor along the perimeter.
- Propensity for fouling.
- Spread Motion Offense that can go from 5 out to 3 out depending upon personnel.
- Ability to draw fouls.
- Players willing to do the dirty work on offense and on the offensive glass.
No team will prepare Georgia better for the spirited, physical play that South Carolina presents better than Austin Peay. It has been 1,389 days since Georgia beat South Carolina (March 11, 2016). There is nothing acceptable about this. It is possible that Georgia has a pair of Seniors (Tyree Crump and Jordan Harris) that have never lost to Georgia Tech and never beat South Carolina in their time in Athens.
Maybe Georgia channels this frustration into something positive so they do not overlook Austin Peay, pretend Matt Figger is the scowling Frank Martin and Carlos Paez is Jair Bolden. Get the idea?
A few points to be made about the roster before highlighting the players to watch:
- Evan Hinson may be a familiar name to you, that is because he transferred from South Carolina as a graduate transfer to Austin Peay. Hinson played Football (Tight End) and Basketball (Guard/Forward) for the Gamecocks.
- Pavle Djurisic is on the roster. He is not the brother of UGA alumnus Nemanja Djurisic. Yes, they are both from Podgorica, Montenegro, but they do not have common parents.
- This game means a lot to Alec Woodard who went to High School 45 minutes away from Athens.
- This Terry Taylor is not The Red Rooster.
Terry Taylor – Shooting Guard
Taylor’s three point shooting percentage has declined during his time at Austin Peay. Contributing factors include the three point arc being moved back and not having a quintet of upperclassmen to take the attention off him. Taylor is able to get his points, but it has not come easily from the perimeter.
On offense, Taylor is a threat to do just about anything on offense except make enough contact to visit the Free Throw Line frequently and set up his teammates. When Taylor gets the ball, it is likely that he will close out the possession in some way.
Taylor is a stronger shot blocker against one-bid conference competition. He does not have the size to make an impact against taller and more athletic players from Power 7 schools (AAC, ACC, Big Ten, Big XII, Big East, SEC, Pac-12).
This season, Taylor is more aggressive and efficient getting to the rim on offense, but he is more likely to commit turnovers this season. Taylor is the main player to stop and this has resulted in turnovers, tougher shots, and challenges on the glass.
Where he is scariest is on the offensive glass, he is the only threat out there to score on the offensive glass for this team. 22 putback attempts in the restricted arc this season.
Carlos Paez – Guard
Paez is the team’s best three point shooter, but he does not pull the trigger too frequently. He is also a strong Free Throw shooter even though he does not visit there much for his high Free Throw Rate. Having Paez and Antwuan Butler on the floor together is like having a pair of Point Guards. Paez is still learning how to get involved off the ball, but he is the team’s most efficient floor general.
He lacks height, but he is an annoying defender to face. He will play 20-22 minutes a game and this skews his per game and absolute production numbers, but he makes the most of his opportunities.
Jordyn Adams – Guard
Adams is a poor perimeter shooter, he can hit his Free Throws, and he is the team’s most credible threat to score off the dribble drive. Adams is not much of a distributor and he typically is attacking from the wing or from a position that does not afford him options to set up teammates. Usually, Adams is a catch-and-shoot option for Antwuan Butler and Carlos Paez.
Adams needs to find ways to get himself to the Free Throw Line because he is not very efficient when he does get to the basket. The objective is to find ways to get Adams to force contact and take Free Throws.
Defensively, Adams is a poor defender who is not a player to worry about on the glass. Adams is not closing out defensive possessions.
Eli Abaev – Forward
Among players receiving significant minutes, Abaev is the closest thing to a post player that Austin Peay has. Abaev is 6’8″ 210 pounds and that may be a good enough size to give Georgia problems. Abaev is a strong rebounder on the defensive end and a good rebounder on the offensive end.
Abaev gets his points off post-entry. He is not much of a shot blocker, but his ability to rebound makes up for it.
Turnovers and fouls plague Abaev and this could make him an easy target for opponents with know how to isolate him. He may be protected by a zone defense, especially since opponents have been playing off tendency with Georgia and going with the defense they feel would exploit Georgia’s inability to shoot from the perimeter.
What to Expect in this Game
Previews are heavy on telling the story of the opponent and recaps are heavy on telling the story of the Dawgs. Austin Peay is a physical team, but it would not be a surprise in any way to see them try to use a zone or pack in the defense against Georgia. Georgia is a terrible three point shooting team with a half court offense that is dependent upon cuts to the basket. UGA is not a heavy ball screening team, there are off-ball screens, but this is a team that really needs to be able to use the dribble drive and set up cutters and open shooters from it.
Austin Peay’s strengths should be a massive concern for Tom Crean and his staff:
- They are a strong offensive rebounding team (33.5% – 49th in the country). Georgia has a 69.5% defensive rebounding rate, which is 258th in the country.
- They can get to the Free Throw Line, which means that they can draw fouls and put players into foul trouble. They have a 42% Free Throw Rate, which is 12th best in the country.
- Forcing turnovers at a 21.2% rate. Georgia is a team that commits a lot of turnovers.
Some of Austin Peay’s weaknesses play into Georgia’s strengths:
- Austin Peay has a 66.67% defensive rebounding rate, they are worse than UGA in this metric. Georgia is a strong offensive rebounding team with a 34.2% offensive rebounding rate.
- Austin Peay allows 40.3% of opponent shot attempts inside the restricted arc, Georgia takes 38.4% of their shots in this area and makes 73% of those shots. Georgia is a very efficient team at the rim.
- Austin Peay cannot control opponents from gets shots in transition very well, 24.7% of shots against Austin Peay are in transition. Giving Georgia any opportunity to get out in transition is a very bad thing.
Georgia is efficient in transition and getting second chance baskets. Georgia wants a game that has volume in possessions rather than emphasizing quality possessions. Georgia Southern was able to slow Georgia down with zone presses and extended 1-3-1 and 1-2-2 defenses. Austin Peay may do it with a man-to-man press and transition into a zone defense.
Play on the offensive glass will dictate how many possessions are played. Georgia has generally made opponents pay for letting them get extra opportunities, Georgia has lost in games where they let opponents get extra opportunities. This game is about the X-Factor points as three point percentage will not matter and Austin Peay will probably only get this game to a 72 or 73 possession game. If this game goes over 78 possessions in regulation, Austin Peay loses this game in a blowout. It will not be a blowout. Georgia will win 2 out of the 3 X-Factor point categories and both teams should shoot according to form from the Free Throw Line and Three Point Arc.
Shot selection, Free Throw Shooting, Unforced Turnovers, and Defensive Rebounding must improve. When they do, this team is dangerous, even if they are a weak three point shooting team.
Prediction: Georgia 80 Austin Peay 73