There was not much defense, the offense was inconsistent, and Georgia won in the unusual role of being the bigger, stronger team.
It is never a good sign for a team to blow three timeouts in the First Half and Eric Musselman was on-track to pull off the full Pete Gillen with his allotment. Arkansas was largely a non-factor in this game as it really came down to Georgia’s performance on the floor and how Crean approached this matchup. It was an extremely strong start, a maddening middle, and a strong finish for the Dawgs. There are common themes to why Georgia has these struggles that allow opponents back in the game and it is not hard to figure out why Georgia performs well when they do.
Let’s start with where things were maddening because there needs to be a little bit of bitter before the sweet.
Georgia’s Baffling Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde Act
Georgia let Arkansas back into this game with piggish offense.
Georgia had an 18 point lead in the First Half, but the team got away from what they were doing right to earn such a lead on the Hogs.
- Possessions featuring isos.
- No ball movement leading to quick three point shots.
- Offensive possessions where nobody moves.
- No dribble drives.
- No ball screens.
Tom Crean seems to think it is acceptable for his team to try to emulate NBA stars they see on television when the team is up 18 in the First Half. This is not a team that is a good three point shooting team and they were clearly the bigger, stronger team and resorting to impersonating teams like the Houston Rockets goes against the core competencies of this team.
Isos featuring Anthony Edwards cut him off from the rest of the team in half court offensive situations. Everyone goes into spectator mode rather than move without the ball as Tom Crean wants to see. The offense is clearly designed to have these sets for some reason, even though they are incredibly ineffective. Edwards thrives off the dribble and when he is attacking or setting up his teammates. The isos throw off the entire team dynamic and when possessions are not designed for isos, the movement goes away. These possessions do more harm than good for a team that is supposed to cut, screen, and read the defense. For all of Crean’s talk about movement without the ball, he is running isos when the team is up and this lets opponents back in the game. The Arkansas comeback falls on Crean.
Defensive matchups and inconsistency.
Tom Crean said it in his pre-game press conference. Isaiah Joe takes 75% of his shots from three point range. With this knowledge, the objective when it comes to facing Joe would be to run him off the three point line and make him dribble the ball inside the arc. Isaiah Joe was able to go off on this defense, shooting 4/10 from three point range and notching 26 points. Joe is an extremely strong three point shooter despite his injuries this season. Crean let Joe get into a shooting rhythm by putting Sahvir Wheeler on him. Wheeler is a 5’8″ Point Guard, Isaiah Joe is 6’5″ Shooting Guard… see where there could be a massive problem? Joe could easily shoot over Wheeler and he did. Crean stuck to this bizarre matchup for much of the game, but eventually switched out Wheeler for Toumani Camara, Christian Brown, and Jordan Harris.
Arkansas did not look uncomfortable out there on offense after going down 14-0.
Georgia did not do anything defensively to discourage the Razorbacks from making a run nor was there an effort to wear them down. Arkansas was able to get drives to the basket and there were mental slip-ups that yielded easy baskets. They were comfortable getting into their half court offense and executing. Neither team was doing a good job obstructing the other team.
Both teams were not forcing turnovers and the big difference between both teams was the glass.
When Georgia Looks Good, They Look Really Good
Georgia is a dangerous team to face in Nashville and they are capable of beating anybody except Mississippi State. Why is this case? What does Georgia play like when they are playing well? There is no better description of it other than the first 12 minutes of this game, but defensively Georgia can be even better.
Georgia’s offense when they are in a winning mindset:
- Ball movement on every half court possession.
- The ball crosses inside the perimeter area.
- Movement without the ball.
- Nobody is standing there watching, everyone is doing something out there.
- Aggression on the offensive boards.
- Clear emphasis on scoring at the rim.
Does that sound like what Georgia was doing to Arkansas in the first 12 minutes? That was exactly what Georgia was doing. Tom Crean created mismatches and Eric Musselman played a role in it as well, it was up to Crean to exploit it. The big mismatch was the way Crean used Rayshaun Hammonds and Toumani Camara. Hammonds has to be defended inside the perimeter like he is Reggie Perry and he has to be defended on the perimeter like he is A.J. Lawson. The emphasis early was to get Hammonds driving at the rim to take advantage of the size differences. If he missed, he had the chance to clean things up. More often, Toumani Camara was doing that tonight.
Georgia outscored Arkansas 16-7 on second chance points, which proved to be the difference in this game. Georgia sported a 37.1% Offensive Rebounding rate and this is usually a good sign for the Dawgs. Toumani Camara’s main contribution in this game was his 5 offensive rebounds and 17% Offensive Rebounding rate for the game. In Camara’s last four games, he has had 5 offensive rebounds in two of them. He sports an 8% offensive rebounding rate. Just imagine Camara after gaining 10-15 pounds of muscle this offseason and how this figure can rise even further.
Georgia’s defense when they are in a winning mindset:
- They are extremely active in the passing lanes.
- They play multiple defenses.
- There is greater physicality in the paint.
- One and done possessions that lead to run-outs.
There was not much of this tonight. Defense is going to be work-in-progress for this team, but the positive development was that Georgia had a 79.4% Defensive Rebounding rate. Forcing turnovers is still not emphasized and the perimeter defense is still very leaky allowing dribble drives and getting lost on ball screens. 2-3 Matchup Zone was featured once in this game, but this game was played in man-to-man defense with a token one man pressure at times. There is no effort to cut into opponents’ time in half court offense, prevent quick scoring responses or force turnovers with full court pressure.
Georgia won this game by being the more physical team and spotting themselves a lead by playing with the requisite offense to win. Georgia closed the game well by forcing Arkansas to take three point shots, getting rebounds, attacking the basket, drawing fouls, and setting up quality, rhythmic three point shots. Anthony Edwards was an effective closer on a night where Sahvir Wheeler’s size against the Arkansas guards was an issue.
Game Score: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars