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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hoops blog: Georgia Tech

End of game: Georgia wins 73-72

For the first time in 10 years, the Bulldogs have won at Georgia Tech. (Other than the SEC tournament a few years ago.)

Travis Leslie picks off an ill-conceived long inbounds in the final moments, and Georgia holds on.

My colleague Coley Harvey points out that this one ends the same way as football: With an interception by Georgia to seal it.

A very big win for Georgia, emotionally and for its resume'.

6:50 left in second half, Georgia leads 63-60

Georgia has seized control of this game, though it's grasp is still tenuous.

A run of five straight 3-pointers turned things for the Bulldogs: Sherrard Brantley hit the first two, followed by Trey Thompkins, then two more by Dustin Ware. The Bulldogs built their biggest lead of the game, at 63-57.

But there's plenty of time left, and Travis Leslie has picked up his fourth foul. We'll see if Georgia Tech has another run in it, or Georgia's defense continues to clamp up.

My blogging may have to be scaled back in the final minutes here, as I'll have to file a game story once the game is over.

11:13 left in second half, Georgia now leads 51-50

There's a long way to go here, and Georgia has some potential foul trouble, but the momentum and the energy have definitely swung here in Atlanta.

Sherrard Brantley just hit consecutive 3s, the first to give UGA its first lead since the opening minutes, the next to answer a Yellow Jacket trey. That's welcome news in more ways than just this game for Georgia: Not to keep beating this dead horse, but the Bulldogs need a dead-eye outside shooter to be a very good team, and Brantley could be it.

Travis Leslie has also come alive, albeit with just four points. But the Bulldogs have a good thing going in their half-court offense, a very fluid high-low approach that netted only the Brantley 3s but some good inside baskets.

15:50 left in second half, Georgia trails 43-37

The fouls have piled up for the Bulldogs, who still remain one good stretch away from getting the lead.

Travis Leslie picked up his third foul just 37 seconds into the half. Then Gerald Robinson picked up two quick fouls, and with 17:11 left, the team’s two best guards each had three fouls. Not to be outdone, Connor Nolte – who has been providing some solid minutes off the bench – also picked up his third.

This game has been right there for the Bulldogs. They just can’t put together a good run. The tone was set at the start of the half, when Dustin Ware hit a 3 to make it a three-point game – only to have Iman Shumpert answer right away with a 3.

Then a minute ago, Trey Thompkins had a three-point play – and on the other end, Dustin Miller was fouled making a layup, and hit the free throw.

Halftime: Georgia trails 35-29

For as badly as the Bulldogs have played at times, and without Travis Leslie for the majority of the first half, a six-point halftime deficit is pretty good.

The litany of Georgia problems is long: getting out-rebounded 21-14, shooting 40 percent, has missing all four free throw attempts, and Georgia Tech has hit five 3s.

But the guards are keeping the Bulldogs alive: Gerald Robinson has been active (seven points and a couple assists), Dustin Ware has three 3s, and Sherrard Brantley hit a 3 when Tech had taken a 31-21 lead.

But Georgia hasn’t been able to get the lead under four in awhile. The Bulldog coaches were visibly frustrated with their team’s half-court defense, so I suspect that’ll be a huge emphasis in the locker room.

3:39 left in first half, Georgia trails 27-21

Georgia remains in the game, but not so much because it's come alive, as Georgia Tech has cooled off. The Yellow Jackets are now 5-for-11 from beyond the arc after a hot start.

But the Bulldogs are being killed on the boards, 19-11. Dustin Ware hasn't hit a shot since his early 3s, and Trey Thompkins has been stuck at four points for awhile. Meanwhile, Travis Leslie has been sitting so long, even Nick Williams is sitting at home going, "Damn ...."

But give Georgia credit, it's hasn't been run off the court yet despite the absence of its second-best player. So far Mark Fox's decision not to play him with two fouls is paying off so far.

9:22 left in first half, Georgia tails 25-17

Mark Fox has just called a 30-second timeout, probably to try to do something to set his team's defense. Georgia Tech is hoisting 3s early and often, and making a bunch.

Georgia's offense has picked back up, mainly thanks to Gerald Robinson Jr. He has a couple nice assists to go with his five points. Trey Thompkins has a couple baskets, but Travis Leslie is sitting with two fouls.

The Bulldogs need to concentrate on the defensive part: Get some stops, and the transition points should follow.

15:00 left in first half

Georgia finds itself down 12-6 at the first timeout, and it’s lucky to only be down that much.

Trey Thompkins has three missed shots and two silly turnovers. Travis Leslie, who has a foul, has already been yanked from the game. This continues a worrisome trend for Georgia: For long stretches, either or both of their stars have disappeared. For a team still trying to develop its supporting cast, that can’t happen.

This moment summed up the early few minutes: Thompkins got the rebound, but his errant pass was stolen, leading directly to a Glen Rice 3-pointer for the game's first points. Rice’s momentum caused him to collide with Mark Fox, who took it in with an annoyed look, more about the turnover than the collision.

Dustin Ware hit a couple 3s to keep Georgia in it. But the Bulldogs are getting nothing from anyone else, and their halfcourt offense has been a mess. Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets are playing with a lot of energy, and shooting pretty well.

6:55 p.m.: Five minutes until tip-off

Georgia is going with its now-standard starting five: Thompkins, Price, Leslie, Robinson and Ware. I'll be very interested to see how Leslie does tonight; He's been so tentative for much of this season, but you know he's amped up to be playing in his hometown.

On a personal note, the food situation tonight is not a great one: They gave media members a $10 voucher for the concession stand, but that only covered a drink, a hot dog and peanut M&Ms. And you wonder whether the average family is being priced out of sporting events.

Anyway, I realize things could be worse, so I won't complain too much. But I do wish that, in anticipation of a bigger dinner, my lunch had consisted of more than just V8 soup and some wheat thins. Hell, I gave the dog half the wheat thins. (Archie loves them.)

6:30 p.m.: Welcome to the Jacket-dome

At press time ... that being the moments in which I am typing these very words ... we are about a half-hour a fairly big basketball game for Georgia and Georgia Tech. But they're big for different reasons.

Georgia needs this for its postseason resume'. Despite the protestations of head coach Mark Fox, a win against its main in-state rival would also stake out a claim as the best program going in the state.

Georgia Tech may need this for the future of its head coach. Paul Hewitt has been feeling the heat, and the loss at Kennesaw State didn't help. Nor the one at Northwestern. The Syracuse game was acceptable.

This matchup also has drawn the interest of the pro scouts: By my quick glance, about one-fourth of the NBA is represented along press row. (EDIT: Make it about one-third of the NBA, as the back row has completely filled up.) That includes a pair of former Atlanta Hawk GMs (Billy Knight and Pete Babcock), who I assume still live in town.

Should be a good one here tonight. As always, look in this space for updates and analysis.


David Davis said...

When they started hitting those back to back threes, this game started getting really intense.

Anonymous said...

Dustin Ware!

bnwdog said...

Another nail biter.....Shweeeww!!!

Anonymous said...

God Bless America.

David Davis said...

That game was INTENSE.

Anonymous said...

Tech STILL sucks.

Adam said...

Another big win for the dawgs! I was hoping things would be a little more comfortable coming down the stretch, but after our sluggish start, I'll take a W any way we can get it. Shumpert (and to a lesser extent, Rice) was the only Techster that really impressed me.

Just wish we could have picked off either ND or Temple, and we'd be sitting at 7-1 right now.

Anonymous said...

Just like football!