Welcome to the Bulldawg Illustrated Hoops Report. To quote the incredibly gifted band Blackberry Smoke, “I ain’t been to prison, but I probably shoulda gone, I broke the law 12 dozen times but I never did get caught”. While the Dawgs aren’t breaking the law, we’re definitely getting away with something. How you can turn it over 20 times versus Tennessee this past Saturday and still win? Beats me, but we did. The one shining light is we continue to turn it over with reckless abandon, but we’re still winning more times than not. The only two games the turnovers cost us a victory were LSU and Kentucky. If we could ever reduce the turnovers to 10/game or less, we’d be the second best team in the SEC. Up next is Texas A&M. They’ve been a mild surprise in the SEC this season and are suddenly fighting for a tournament bid as well. They’re 16-6 overall, 7-3 in conference, currently on quite a roll. This would be a huge road win if our Dawgs can find a way. But before we talk about how to beat the Aggies, let’s talk about the Dawgs win this past Saturday.
The Dawgs were up to one of their favorite pastimes last Saturday. Winning Ugly! While he’s been in Athens, it seems Coach Fox is the master at winning games where both teams stay in the 50s. The games are usually disjointed and the offensives are generally offensive. And that’s where we thrive. Last Saturday was no exception. While we shot an outstanding 55% from the floor. Unfortunately that was 1.5% better than we shot at the FG line. Also, we only attempted 38 field goals to UTs 56 because of all the boneheaded turnovers. They had 14 steals for Pete’s sake! Plus, to make matters worse 11 of the turnovers came from Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann. These guys are juniors and were considered our two best players before the season began. I just don’t understand, with their ability, how they continue to give it away. Luckily for us,bafter UT got close early in the second half, JJ Frazier took over. Not only was he the only starter not to commit a turnover, he also hit three threes during a three minute stretch. That gave the Dawgs the lead for good. Even several unforced turnovers down the stretch wouldn’t allow the Vols to take the lead. We held on by the skin of our teeth 56-53.[break] [break]
After a disappointing blowout[break] [break]
loss to South Carolina two weeks ago, the Dawgs could use a road win. This is not a must win game for UGA to make the tourney. It would be considered a major road victory based on A&M’s record. However, I think this sets up good for UGA. I’m not going to rehash the turnovers because we know that has to stop on the road, but I will rehash making it ugly. In the Aggies five losses this year that don’t involve overtime, they’ve averaged 56.6 points per game. Actually, they only scored 44 vs Bama in their SEC opener. They’re averaging 71 in their SEC wins. So they’re prone to off nights offensively. Mix in the fact that UGA is a solid defensive team, I think this could easily be a game that’s low scoring. If that’s the case, you have to like our chances to steal one on the road. If we could pull this off, then we are again looking at playing for an SEC tourney bye for the second year in a row. If not, we’re still scrambling to make to NCAAs.
So you want the good news or the bad news first? The good news is UGA sits at exactly the record they need to sit at right now to make the tournament. The bad new is there’s no wiggle room. We have to go at least 2-1 in the next three to maintain that pace. We still have UK left at home so it’s hard to consider that a gimme. Also, we absolutely still need at least one more road win as things currently stand. So a win here would basically give UGA a mulligan to keep in their pocket if needed. I think our best odds are keep this game a defensive struggle and find some way to hold on to the basketball. Coach Fox is good at finding ways to win those games. If that holds true, I can feel a good one coming on! Go Dawgs!!!