Hoops Report – Auburn

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Hoops Report – Auburn

Photo by Sean Taylor

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Welcome to the Bulldawg Illustrated Hoops Report. Its like drinking a cold beer on a warm beach. The Dawgs have really placed themselves in a good position for the Big Dance this year with a huge road win against Texas A&M last Wednesday night. A&M has been playing solid basketball winning seven of their previous eight before the loss. They had also taken UK to double overtime prior to that. So for the Dawgs to go into College Station and really handle them was quite impressive. Also impressive was doing it with a number of questionable calls going against us. I know that happens on the road, but it seemed to happen much more than normal Wednesday. Maybe I’m just a UGA homer and way off base, but the bad calls looked pretty skewed to me. Based on several computer models run on vaious websites, the Dawgs have about an 86% chance to make the NCAA as things sit now. Up next is Auburn. They’re 3-8 in the SEC and having an overall disappointing season. This is not a must win because of the A&M victory, but a loss would give the selection committee an unneeded talking point against UGA because it would be a really bad loss. But before we talk about how to beat underachievers, let’s talk about beating overachievers.
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The Dawgs got down 4-0 quickly against A&M. The Aggies won the tip and hit their first shot. Then Thornton made another inexplicable turnover as soon as he touched it and they scored on a fast break. I immediately thought this could possibly be another “one turnover every two minutes pace”. Unlike that 20 turnover game against UT last Saturday, you won’t win many road games that way. However, UGA tightened the ship from that point on. Outside of Thornton, no one had more than two turnovers and the team only had seven. That was the lowest total I can remember this season. You can research to find out if I’m wrong, but I don’t have the time. Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann who totaled 11 of the 20 turnovers vs. UT bounced back like leaders do going for 15 and 14 points respectively. And while we shot a little below average from the floor and very poorly from three point range, we didn’t have to overcome a gaggle of turnovers. Life’s a lot easier when you hold onto the ball. Let’s hope this is a sign of things to come. If we commit seven more turns against A&M to hit our season average, we probably lose that game. We have stressed all year at BI if this team can keep that number to ten or less, we are very dangerous. We are then a team no one wants to play in March. I guarantee that.
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Up next is Auburn. They, and our next opponent the Lamecocks, are a puzzle to me. They have decent talent. Also, aside the point that they remember things on a level akin to NBC’s Brian Williams, they have a really good coach in Bruce Pearl, unless he recently got fired again for lying to the NCAA and I didn’t hear about it. But if he’s still there, then coupled with their roster they should be a much better team. So this game scares me to death. Also, looking at their schedule, their games have been all over the place. They’ll score 44 one night and 87 the next. They just don’t seem to have any chemistry or any type of identity. That makes it tough to win in team sports. So the easiest way to beat this team is just play solid defense and not turn it over. If we play good defense, they’ll turn it over quite frequently. They’ve done it all year. That leads to easy baskets for us and fewer shots for them. So we don’t need to reinvent the wheel against these guys. Solid defense and protecting the rock should get it done.
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Ok, here we sit at 7-4 in the SEC. I assure you 10-8 puts us in the Big Dance. With four home games left, we only need to go 3-1 to do that. That really sets up nicely considering the next three home opponents are a combined 7-26 in the SEC. However, a full cup must be carried steadily. That was my Confucius moment. We’re 0-1 against those three teams right now. Just like I assured the BI nation last year that the Lamecocks would pull a major upset at some point and then beat UK a couple of weeks later, Auburn is just as capable. They beat LSU last week, so let’s hope that’s their coup-de-gras this season. With all of that said, UGA is the better team and the game is in Athens. A tournament deserving team looks at this game as a stepping stone to improve their seeding in the SEC Tourney as well as punch their Dance card. We’re the four seed right now and hold the tie-breaker over one of the teams tied for second. It’s much easier to make a run in the conference tournament getting the two or three seed and only having a chance to see UK in the finals. So let’s get this win. We need all the help we can. We’ve had solid support at home all year. Last Saturday vs. Vols was a rocking good time. Coach Fox even tweeted out to make the Dawgs your Valentine and show up for a date at 2 p.m. tomorrow. This team is solid and we have a great coach. If we get a win Saturday, then the future will be so bright that we’ll need to wear shades.
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Go Dawgs!

 

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Greg is closing in on 11 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.