Scouting Report: Georgia

Though the Vanderbilt men couldn't come away with a win, their trip to Gainesville proved more encouraging than the Gators' visit to Nashville. The ‘Dores showed life in the second half and will look to carry that play into Wednesday night. Vanderbilt stops in Athens on its quest to .500 in SEC play, where the cellar-dwelling Georgia Bulldogs will try to win only their second conference game.

Vandy's Last Game

Just as they did against the Gators in Memorial, the Commodores dug themselves an early hole with porous defense and missed opportunities on offense.  Vanderbilt shot 34.5 percent and did not convert a three-point attempt in the first half, while the Gators scorched the nets with 61.5 percent shooting and 40 points in the game's opening stanza.  Florida was the beneficiary of several Vanderbilt miscues, scoring 12 of their first-half points off of Commodore turnovers.

In the second half, Vanderbilt's offense came to life, as the ‘Dores scored 45 points and would have had more if not for a few dropped passes and missed chip shots.  Unfortunately, the defense did not improve; Florida shot 60.9 percent in the half and returned to the long-range bombing they delivered in Memorial, knocking down seven second-half three-pointers.

Perhaps most encouraging to the ‘Dores was A.J. Ogilvy's performance in a losing effort.  The big Aussie continued his strong second half of the conference season by leading all scorers with 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting.  Charles Hinkle was the only other Commodore to shoot better than 50.0 percent from the floor, and he took but a single shot.

Georgia At-A-Glance

The Bulldogs suffered a 50-40 loss in Memorial in just their second conference game, and though the 40 points in that game represent the lowest total the team has posted this season, the score is indicative of its offensive struggles.  In conference play, Georgia (10-17, 1-11) ranks last in the SEC in scoring offense at just 60.2 points per game (7.4 points per game fewer than 11th-place Vanderbilt).  The Dawgs also bring up the rear in shooting percentage, converting a pedestrian 38.1 percent of their shot attempts in league games.  Leading scorer Terrance Woodbury is the only Bulldog among the top 30 scorers in the conference.

Two major problems consistently stall the Georgia offense.  The lack of an experienced post threat and an effective penetrator force the Bulldogs to take a bevy of contested mid-range shots; they shoot an SEC-worst 42.0 percent from inside the arc as a result.  The Dawgs also suffer from severe turnover problems, posting league-worsts in turnovers per game (18.3), turnover margin (-5.3 per game), and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.63).  According to Ken Pomeroy, the Bulldogs cough up the ball on nearly a quarter of their possessions (24.2 percent).

Starting Lineup

Terrance Woodbury – Senior, 6-7, 221 lbs. – Woodbury, one of only two Georgia seniors, was a picture of consistency through his first 13 games, scoring double figures in all but one of those contests.  In mid-January, Vanderbilt held the Dawgs' leading scorer to ten points on 4-of-12 shooting, and since then, the athletic swingman's scoring has been all over the board.  Of the ten games following Georgia's loss in Memorial, Woodbury has tossed in at least 15 points in half, including a 32-point eruption and seven trifectas in the team's lone conference win over Florida.  In the other five games, all but one of which was a blowout loss, the senior averaged just 7.4 points per game.  Woodbury can score from anywhere on the court, but he struggles against wings that can match his athleticism.

Howard "Trey" Thompkins – Freshman, 6-8, 245 lbs. – The Bulldogs' loss in Nashville marked the beginning of a downward trend for Thompkins as well.  The versatile power forward was averaging 14.3 points per game heading into Memorial; since then, his scoring has dipped to 10.2 points per game while his shooting percentage has sunk below 35.0 percent.  His struggles are not a question of talent; Thompkins is already one of the more skilled post players in the SEC.  As A.J. Ogilvy learned last season, though, a freshman forward is rarely ready for the physicality of the conference season, and without many other offensive options available, Thompkins has already become the game plan focus of Georgia opponents.  The ‘Dores threw bigger defenders at the freshman in the post, forcing him to the perimeter and into tough shots more often than not.

Dustin Ware – Freshman, 5-11, 182 lbs. – A reserve through much of this season, Ware has usurped the majority of the point guard minutes from sophomore Zac Swansey.  Shooting just 35.2 percent from the field, Ware isn't a huge scoring threat, but he does shoot 35.5 percent from beyond the arc and is a good enough shooter to keep defenses honest.  In the nine games since stepping into a starting role, the freshman is averaging 8.6 points and 3.9 assists per game.  He's become more comfortable shooting from the perimeter recently, launching 22 three-point attempts (of which he made nine) in his last four games.

Corey Butler – Senior, 6-3, 195 lbs. – Never much of a scorer, Butler's offensive output has dropped a bit since the start of SEC play.  He's averaging 5.2 points per game and has made just six three-pointers in league games after knocking down a team-best 23 trifectas in non-conference play.  The Dawgs could use more offense across the board, but Butler's contributions are most felt in other areas, as he is Georgia's best perimeter rebounder and defender.

Albert Jackson – Junior, 6-10, 265 lbs. – After playing a combined 19 minutes against Mississippi State and Florida, Georgia's center stepped back into a primary role and has averaged 4.4 points and 4.3 rebounds in the seven games since.  The hulking Jackson is the Bulldogs' best offensive rebounder and shot-blocker, and he'll provide some much-needed size against a bigger, more physical Commodore squad.

Bench

Three guards and a pair of forwards round out interim coach Pete Herrmann's rotation.  Zac Swansey, a 6-1 sophomore, has been relieved of his role as starting point guard and has seen a significant drop in minutes during Herrmann's tenure as head coach.  A moderate three-point threat and capable ball handler, Swansey has struggled with turnovers recently, committing 17 of them to just 12 assists since Herrmann was handed the reigns.

Travis Leslie and Ricky McPhee also fortify the Georgia backcourt.  Leslie, a 6-4 wing, can be dangerous off the dribble but has launched just three three-point attempts this season.  The 6-1 McPhee, meanwhile, is 18-of-49 from beyond the arc and just 2-of-8 from two-point range on the season.

Two sophomore forwards provide backup in the frontcourt.  Jeremy Price and Chris Barnes are both bulky post players who can rebound well and score around the basket.  Price is the more dangerous offensive threat of the two because of his ability to knock down the perimeter jumper on occasion.

Keys to the Game

No Second Chances – A quarter of Georgia's points came off of offensive rebounds in the Bulldogs' ten-point loss in Nashville.  Because they shoot a low percentage, the Dawgs have plenty of chances for put-backs and garbage points.  Vanderbilt's frontcourt will have to muscle Thompkins and Jackson away from the tin on shot attempts, but the Commodore perimeter players must also crash the boards, as Woodbury and Butler are capable of doing damage on the glass as well.  Jeff Taylor's window work has been a boon thus far; look for him to keep Woodbury at bay.

Keep Up the Pressure – The Bulldogs committed more turnovers (20) than they made field goals (18) in their prior loss to Vanderbilt, a testament to the effectiveness of the Commodores' pressure not just in the backcourt but also in the paint.  Georgia's post players accounted for nine of the team's turnovers, and none but Thompkins can handle the ball with any skill.  If the ‘Dores can maintain the pace at which the teams ran in January and force 20 turnovers again, they'll win by 20 this time.

Wings Take Flight – Ogilvy scored 18 points in his first meeting with the Bulldogs this season, but the Commodore offense could really run smoothly if Jeff Taylor and Lance Goulbourne aggressively look for to score.  Though Terrance Woodbury is a perfectly capable defender, the more he has to work at stopping the Vanderbilt freshmen (who can match his size and athleticism), the more his offense will suffer.  If Woodbury proves to be a stiff challenge, constant aggression could get him into foul trouble; otherwise, Taylor, Goulbourne, or both could have big nights.

Prediction:  Despite winning by ten points, the Commodores could never shed the scrappy Bulldogs; Georgia was within four of their hosts with just over three minutes to play.  However, Vanderbilt shot 12.5 percent from beyond the arc, missing several wide-open looks from the perimeter, and no ‘Dore besides Ogilvy was much of a factor offensively.  Ole Miss's athleticism gave the Georgia defense fits in the Dawgs' most recent game; look for Vanderbilt to return to its attacking ways in a rare road win.  Final Score: Vanderbilt 65, Georgia 54.

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