The Georgia Bulldogs fell to 10-11, 1-7 after losing to South Carolina on Saturday afternoon. This season, turnovers and defensive breakdowns have plagued this Georgia team from winning close games. The Bulldogs have experienced positive moments at times, but these two areas have been the primary culprits for Georgia’s inconsistent play. That was evident in the Bulldogs’ fifth-straight loss to the Gamecocks.
The Good: Free Throw Improvement
After converting only 15-29 from the free-throw line against Arkansas the previous game, Georgia shot 22-25 against South Carolina.
The most notable improvement was Derek Ogbeide who shot 2-11 against the Razorbacks and then went a perfect 6-6 from the line versus the Gamecocks.
Ogbeide said after the game that he made a small tweak in his form.
“It was a small detail that I had to fix…I stepped my foot back a little bit.”
The Bulldogs’ improvement from the line is an encouraging sign. The ability for the Bulldogs to be aggressive, get to the rim, absorb contact, and take advantage of their opportunities from the charity stripe is key to winning games and shaking the current conference slide.
The Bad: UGA allowed a bad three-point shooting team to shoot 11-16 from three
Although the Bulldogs had a solid game offensively, their efforts on the defensive end cost them dearly. South Carolina entered the game shooting 31.4 percent from the three-point line on the season, but made 11 critical triples and converted 68.8 percent from beyond the arc against Georgia.
Tre Campbell and Felipe Haase both had stretches where they knocked down three consecutive three-pointers to change the complexion of the game.
Georgia did a poor job of closing out the three-point line. A lack of communication on switches led to open looks for South Carolina and the Gamecocks made the Bulldogs pay for it. However, the Gamecocks deserve credit for knocking down the shots. Moving forward, Georgia has to respect that area of the court.
The Good: UGA scored 80 points
Georgia’s offense has been inconsistent at times and that was evident against South Carolina. Although the Bulldogs have been streaky from beyond the arc, they were able to score around the rim against a tall and long South Carolina team. The Bulldogs put up 80 points and their top two scorers, Rayshaun Hammonds and Nic Claxton, only combined for 20 points.
The Bulldogs are scoring by committee this season and had they been able to knock down a few more jump shots, the outcome of this game may have been different.
Georgia had five players in double-figures: Ogbeide, Tyree Crump, Hammonds, Jordan Harris, and Turtle Jackson.
If the Bulldogs can get similar production out of this group moving forward, they will put together some wins as long as their defensive efforts improve.
The Bad: Abysmal Start
The Bulldogs did not make a jumper until the 6:18 mark of the first half when Crump knocked down a three-pointer. South Carolina jumped out to a 15-point lead in this time and later withstood multiple runs by the Bulldogs to hold on and never trail in the win.
After the abysmal start where UGA was 3-19 from the field, Georgia did a great job of driving towards the basket to help bust open the offense. When the shot at the rim was not there, the Bulldogs would kick it out an open teammate. However, the Bulldogs did not convert on many of these three-point opportunities as they shot 6-20 from beyond the arc for the game.
Even though it seems discouraging that the Bulldogs are not knocking down these open looks, Crean’s offensive blueprint is starting to become more visible on the floor. Players are driving to the rim, cutting, and getting open looks from the three-point line. It should only be a matter of time until the players are consistently executing, similar to what they did against Texas.
The Good: Activity around the rim
Georgia’s domination on the offensive glass kept them in this game. The Bulldogs grabbed 20 offensive rebounds and had a lot of activity around the rim from Hammonds and Harris. Both players were able to get put-back baskets on second-chance opportunities.
One of the ways that Crean wants his players to make an impact is to affect the game without the ball. Hammonds and Harris did this against South Carolina with their efforts on the offensive glass.
The Bad: UGA couldn’t corral the most important rebound of the game
Although the Bulldogs were plus nine on the glass against South Carolina, they could not grab the most important rebound of the game.
After Jackson knocked down a pair of free throws with 1:06 remaining, the Bulldogs were down by one possession and forced Hassani Gravett to take a difficult mid-range jumper. Gravett missed but A.J. Lawson corralled the rebound, made both free throws and put the game away.
This was a game-clinching play by Lawson and the Bulldogs had to secure the miss on the defensive end if they wanted to win this game.
Saturday’s loss against South Carolina embodied what this season has been for Georgia. An inconsistent squad that has shown of glimpses of the type of team that it can be in the future under Crean. The Bulldogs have made a lot of positive adjustments to the offense, and if the backcourt can start making outside shots, it will the difference maker in the outcome of their games.
There is still a lot of optimism for Georgia fans as this is a rebuilding year for Crean and company. Supporters should be hoping for growth and improvement for the remainder of the season instead of getting caught up in the wins and losses. Moving forward, if the Bulldogs can limit their turnovers and avoid defensive breakdowns, then they will find success and build long-term confidence.