Welcome to the Bulldawg Illustrated Hoops Report: South Carolina vs Georgia. It’s like the lottery coming up with the numbers you been playing for years and you’ve lost your ticket. The Dawgs are playing the same numbers they’ve played the last four years in Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann. However, for whatever reason, this year those numbers just aren’t clicking.
This team and the 2011 team are really the only two underachieving teams Mark Fox has had in his seven seasons and luckily one of them can do something about it. They tried to Saturday night in Waco, TX versus the 17th ranked Baylor Bears. Watching the game and looking at the box score is like watching a movie in English and then rewatching in Taushiro. It makes no sense. Btw, Taushiro is the least spoken language in the world for context. But I digress. Back to the game. UGA came out inspired and played a solid first half. Unfortunately, Baylor was smoking hot to start the second half. Once they took the lead, the memory of the first half was an afterthought. What’s even more frustrating was we were down around 8-12 throughout the second half. We lost by 10, 83-73. But we gave away at least 12 points on blown layups, bad fouls and stupid turnovers. However, the insane thing is we ended up with only 10 TOs. That’s our second lowest total of the season. When you couple that with 22 assists, it illustrates how costly each turnover was. Plus we shot 50% from the floor and 44% from three. We did miss nine FTs, but that’s the only number that looks bad. Our Big Four poured in 66 led by JJ Fraizier with 21 points and 11 assists. That guy and Yante Maten just continue to impress. But in the end, we found a way to miss just enough shots to lose by double-digits in a game that on paper looked like it had to be a win. Only in Athens does that happen.
Next, we have the 25th ranked Gamecocks coming into Athens for a game that is a must win for the Dawgs. The Gamecocks are very big down low and have two big time scorers floating around on the perimeter. While they’ve come down to Earth a little bit of late, they’re still impressive. Frank Martin is insane and a great coach. He’s playing with basically the same team he had last year, but their confidence level is high and it looks like that’s all they needed. We do have one thing to hang our hat on. The Dawgs have dominated The Lamers in Athens the last few years. While things are certainly a little different this year, their team is use to losing in Athens. Also, home teams do well in the SEC for whatever reason, wink wink awful officiating. But the defensive intensity must change. We’ve given up 89 and 83 in the last two games. Fox preaches defense and we probably lose again if USCeast breaks 80 as well.
So now we need at least 11 SEC wins and a conference tourney win, in my opinion, to make the Big Dance. The problem is that means we need to go 8-3 in the next 11. While the team has the talent to do that, they have not shown the will. I’m not throwing in the towel yet, but Tuesday is huge. Here’s the plan. There’s a little something in town called Signing Day on Wednesday. So why not roll on over to the Little A Tuesday afternoon. Rock The Steg that night. Wake up the next morning and head on over to a Bloody Mary bar and start watching the good news roll in for the Dawgs! But remember, it starts Tuesday night at 7 p.m. This is as close to make or break you’ll ever see. All I can say at this point is … Go Dawgs!