Entering Wednesday night’s SEC home opener, the Dawgs had climbed to 33 in ESPN’s RPI but lacked a marquee win against other tournament bound teams. They had a chance to get one against South Carolina, but couldn’t convert Carolina mistakes into points.
Before the game, I asked myself if Yante Maten’s back would eventually tire from carrying the offense. While at first it didn’t seem it would, as the game continued the inability to get points from others put added pressure on the offense, causing bad turnovers.
All night the Dawgs struggled to get passes against South Carolina to set up cleaner and easier shots, which forced them to attack the basket. This strategy worked as long as the refs called the fouls and the Dawgs converted from the charity stripe – which didn’t hold up.
The Dawgs shot a less than efficient 77-percent from the line, which ended up being the difference in the six-point loss. Free throws were the only reason Georgia stayed in the game, but missing those opportunities also cost them the win.
The Dawgs had 30 chances at the line compared to South Carolina’s 17, and USC only converted 59-percent. It was that kind of night from the Dawgs as a stagnant offense spread frustration to the rest of their game.
Georgia doubled South Carolina’s turnover total, which enabled double the amount of points off turnovers.
The game was kept even through the first half, but in the second, Carolina established themselves the better team with tougher defense. Georgia had every opportunity to steal this victory, but when Maten and Frazier aren’t playing their best, the rest of the team isn’t talented enough to fix their struggles. An early conference loss in the SEC won’t be a deal breaker for Georgia’s chances (if they still have any) to make the tournament, but another two or three losses along the way could be the nail in the coffin. The Dawgs will need a five-to-ten game win streak this month and next to add to their resume, but with Florida and Texas looming, it could be too tall a task.
The Dawgs next host Missouri in Stegeman Coliseum on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. on SEC Network.
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