Zoning Out

Let’s talk about J.J. Fraizer and bad coaching - because that’s what won Georgia the game today.

I will admit - I don’t know much of anything about Mississippi State’s basketball personnel. But I know this about basketball: when an undersized guard (J.J. Frazier) has scored 30 points on you in thirty minutes you get the hell out of any zone defense you play.

Its time to man up - literally and figuratively.

Here’s where I live in terms of defense: it is perfectly acceptable to play zone defense when you have to, but the default defense in college basketball is man-to-man. If you can’t play man-to-man… well you probably are not that great. Yes, there are times to be in a zone - like when the other team can’t shoot at all.

That wasn’t the case today in Starkville.

J.J. Frazier missed exactly two shots from the field.


He’s the smallest player in the SEC, and State allowed him to run around the top of the perimeter and put on a shooting performance a carny would have been jealous of. J.J. Frazier hit every single three-point shot he attempted on the night.

Zone? Amazing.

That State either decided not to get out of the garbage zone they were running, or didn’t feel like they could get out of it is an indication as to the reason those Bulldogs have a losing record and are trying to figure out how to avoid playing on Wednesday night at the SEC Tournament.

It - quite frankly - was mind-numbingly silly and frustrating to watch State run around in a zone defense while Georgia was shooting the lights out of the ball. Perhaps the strategy was to slow down Marcus Thornton - and that worked - but somewhere between Georgia taking a 12-point lead in the second half and the conclusion of the game there has to be a better understanding that more than just one player has to be stopped when five players are allowed on the floor.

Late in the game and with Georgia sitting in a zone that had worked most of the game, State suddenly got hot and hit three consecutive three-point baskets to cut Georgia’s lead to one point.

Mark Fox got the hell out of the zone.

Mark Fox and Georgia won.

That’s all I should write about. This game, quite frankly, was that simple.

But this isn’t just about State’s ineptitude. This is about a kid who is undersized (actually, he’s too short to be on an SEC court) who wasn’t satisfied going 7 for 7 - 7 for 7 from three-point land. Frazier was at the free throw line with a chance to end the game.

He missed the free throw. Usually that’s a problem, but not today. Frazier went and got the rebound - the game was over because of State’s inability to handle Frazier. I just didn’t think that it would come down to their inability to block out the smallest guy in the SEC on a missed free throw.

It was just plain bad basketball on State’s part. Georgia played well - I really thought they were interested in defending the entire game, and that work held State to under 34% shooting from the floor. You do that, and you will win a lot of games.

Again, when the other team can’t shoot you get in a zone and make them shoot it. When they can shoot it that’s another story State has yet to learn.

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