We've all seen what Devan Downey can do to a team with great guards, now Georgia Head Coach, Mark Fox, will have to contend with a game preparation with a struggling Bulldog back-court.
6'10 Sophomore sensation, Trey Thompkins scored 24 points against Florida and Senior Guard Ricky McPhee also scored 21 in the game, but the team, committed 19 turnovers leading to 33 Florida points in a 87-71 Gator victory. Georgia, often playing in a three guard lineup with the lone senior McPhee at 6'1", Dustin Ware 5'11" and Travis Leslie 6'4" will have to rely on extremely improved play to counter Coach Darrin Horn's back-court combinations starting with the virtually impossible to stop Downey at 5'9", the physical Lakeem Jackson 6'5" and streaky shooter Brandis Raley-Ross 6'5".
Coach Horn will have the luxury of going back to his full court and half court trapping combinations, which he vacated in the Kentucky game to use other schemes to counter the much larger and athletic Wildcat squad. With the Bulldogs struggling to protect the ball, the Saturday evening contest will open the door to harassing defensive pressure in the hostile confines of the Colonial Center, where Horn has developed a distinct advantage for his Gamecock program. The Garnet Army will verbally harass the opposing teams while inspiring the USC players and motivating louder cheers from the remaining general fan base.
While Georgia is a fairly good shooting team, and was able to generate 59.6% shooting (57.1% from 3 point range) against Florida, the 19 turnovers limited their shots to 47 for the game. In recording a 16 point win, Florida shot 53.3% overall and 43.8% from long range. But the 33 points off steals and forced turnovers provided 13 more shots, most of which were fast-break layups. A 13-7 advantage in offensive rebounds also provided the assistance to the margin of victory.
Expect more of the same, as the front-court of the Gamecocks, led by Sam Muldrow, Austin Steed and Johndre Jefferson, will be able to hold their own in the paint with the defensive harassment taking place in back-court and around the perimeter. The 40 minutes of expected high risk defense should not offer too many easy baskets to the Bulldogs and USC will only need continued success of Downey offensively, who appears to be in a zone right now. All other game average contributions by the Cocks should lead to an eventual easy victory for the host club.
Thompkins may be one of the best big men in the SEC, McPhee, Ware and Leslie are good perimeter shooters, but the USC man-to-man and trapping defenses should make spot up shooting extremely difficult. Likewise, the Georgia back-court are good athletes but may not be very good "on ball" defenders. Expect to see a few zone schemes by the Bulldogs in an attempt to keep Downey out of the lane as much as possible.
If the Gamecocks have come down from the Kentucky victory and have retained the motivation for the defensive floor effort all have become accustomed to, an upset by the Athens bunch should not be a reality.
A former basketball player and coach with over a decade of national experience, who later founded player development programs before expanding his knowledge and experiences to media services and outlets, Duane "The Shot Doctor" Everett can be heard every weekday in Columbia as a host and analyst on ESPN Radio Columbia's "The Zone" on 93.1 FM from 3-6 p.m.
Other entries such as this one can be found on Everett's blog, "The Shot Doctor".
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