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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fleeting Thoughts: Georgia-Alabama

A few quick thoughts about Georgia's game last night vs. Alabama and the season overall…

-- Given the amount of attention that was given to Georgia's perceived interest in Anthony Grant last year, and considering the fact that they both took over programs at the same time, there's likely to be an ongoing comparison between Grant and Mark Fox for the next few seasons. So far, Fox 1, Grant 0. And that score isn't as close as the game last night was.

-- With eight minutes left to play, I looked up Trey Thompkins' lowest scoring tallies of the season because it looked like he might be in line for one of his worst games of the year. At that point, he had eight points and had been a non-factor throughout most of the game.

His final line: 21 points, 17 rebounds, 3 assists on 9-of-12 shooting.

The last time a player put up a 21/17 line was 1998 and his name was Jumaine Jones.

-- Last night's game was sort of bizzaro Georgia. All year, Fox has been preaching the need for better play defensively and better performance on the boards. All year, it has been Georgia's strong shooting from the free-throw line and ability to take advantage of fast-break opportunities that has kept them afloat.

So what happened Saturday? The Dawgs started out 2-of-12 from the charity stripe but were dominant on defense and finished with a 39-27 advantage on the boards.

-- Oh, and something to be said for being mentally tough: After that 2-of-12 start from the line, the Dawgs rallied to finish by hitting 11-of-12.

-- While Thompkins' numbers jumped off the page at game's end, the guy who probably didn't get enough credit was Dustin Ware. He finished with seven assists and just two turnovers and drained a huge 3 late to put the Dawgs in command. He added to that by connecting on all four of his free-throw attempts in the final minute of action.

-- After Jeremy Price's big game in place of Albert Jackson last week, there was reason for optimism that he might be on the right track toward a breakout conclusion to 2010. Instead, he's tallied just eight points in his past two games, including just two points (and no boards) in only nine minutes of work last night.

-- On the other hand, Chris Barnes has shown some nice signs of life of late. After playing exactly 11 minutes in each of his previous four games, Barnes was Fox's secret weapon against Alabama, going 4-of-4 from the field -- including the night's signature dunk to cap Georgia's scoring -- and posted a season-high 10 points while adding five rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes of work.

“I’ve been hard on these guys the last couple of days because I didn’t like how they defended our last ballgame," Fox said. "Chris was the one guy that was just alley-cat tough enough to fight back, and I thought he’d have a good ballgame.”

-- While a regular-season win against an also-ran Alabama team is certainly not the most noteworthy victory of the year for Georgia, it did mark a few milestones:

It was win No. 12 for the Bulldogs -- tying their total from last season in five fewer games.

It was win No. 4 in SEC play for UGA -- one more than they had all of last year.

It was the first time Georgia had beaten a team from the SEC West since it toppled Arkansas to conclude its miracle run to the conference championship in 2008.

-- Georgia led 30-29 at the half last night. So far this season, they have been tied or led at the halfway point in nine of 12 SEC games. And they won one of the three in which they didn't lead at the half.

-- Georgia has only lost five games this season by more than 10 points, and only two of those have come during conference play. Last season (when the SEC was markedly worse as a conference), Georgia lost 11 games by more than 10 points, and all but one came in conference.

-- Again, the home-court advantage has been big for the Bulldogs. UGA is now 0-10 on the road, but an impressive 12-3 at home this season.

“This, for our program, is progress," Fox said. "Every game is a chance to make progress. We understand that we still have not gotten over the hump on the road. We’re a lot better team on the road than we were on those first couple of trips. We’ve got everybody bringing their sneakers now. We’re growing. But if you look back to when we started, Stegeman wasn’t a home-court advantage. I heard somebody say, ‘Let’s tear it down, it’s too old.’ Well, it’s been pretty good to us. We have to keep making steps forward, and today was a step forward.”


Schlagdawg said...

Also understated is the game-winning effort by this guy:

Fratt Stinchcomb said...

I noticed that Fox didnt sub in about the last ten minutes. Was that right or did I just imagine that? The bench was failing to produce so it definately makes sense but not what Fox normally does. He normally continues to sub just to give the starters a break. I bet those guys are worn out today, but a great win none-the-less.

Anonymous said...

We need the STUDENTS to rally behind the team and start packing the coliseum. 34,000 students, and 6,000 show up for a weekend game at 4PM? Students, this is YOUR TEAM and you need to support them better.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't really call out the students. Mid-terms are this week and next, and they did a fine job of loudly supporting the team against a non-marquee opponent. 34,000 can't fit into Stegeman anyway, so let's get some of those alumni with $ in the doors...