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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hoops blog: Arkansas State

End of game, Georgia wins 68-59

Yeah, I wrote too soon earlier. Said something about it being a blowout, you could fall asleep at the end, yada yada ... Apparently it was Georgia that went to sleep once it went up 21.

Arkansas State ended up making a bit of a game of it, drawing within seven with 1:30 left, then got possession with 57 seconds left. But after a missed 3, Jeremy Price stripped the ball away, and UGA was able to finally breathe.

So it ended up not being a double-digit win. This ties the nine-point win over Colorado, also at Stegeman Coliseum, for the largest margin of victory this season.

Still, it felt like a blowout for much of the second half. Trey Thompkins finished with 15 points and seven rebounds, Travis Leslie had 14 points and eight rebounds, Chris Barnes added 12 points, and Dustin Ware had nine points and seven assists.

10:57 left in second half, Georgia leads 55-37

It's blowout time, finally, for the Georgia basketball team.

The Bulldogs appear set for a comfortable victory, barring some miracle run by Arkansas State. The last exchange of possessions showed it could happen - the Red Wolves made a 3 and the Bulldogs answered by throwing it away.

Still, Georgia has built up such a lead, and has played with enough urgency, that it should be able to cruise the rest of the way. It's been a well-rounded effort: Trey Thomkins has 13 points six rebounds, Travis Leslie has 11 points and six rebounds, Chris Barnes has eight points, Dustin Ware has seven ... I could go on.

It seems the break did the Bulldogs some good.

16:56 left in second half, Georgia leads 46-28

From the first moments of this half, Georgia has come to play.

The Bulldogs are on a 10-1 run since the half began, punctuated just now with a Gerald Robinson fast-break layup. That followed a 3 by Dustin Ware. And the half started with a Trey Thompkins layup, on a set play meant to get the team's star involved right away, unlike the first half, when it took awhile.

Arkansas State has called timeout to try to stop the bleeding. But Georgia is in great shape to at least avoid a Tennessee-Oakland redux - and the Bulldogs can now try to polish off their first actual rout of this season.

Halftime: Georgia leads 36-27

It took awhile, but the Bulldogs finally summoned the energy to take semi-control of this one.

The score was stuck at 25-24 for awhile, as Arkansas State missed several chances to take the lead. Then Gerald Robinson made a driving layup and Trey Thompkins converted a fast-break basket. After another lull, Sherrard Brantley nailed a 3 and it was up to an eight-point lead.

For much of the half, Travis Leslie seemed to be one of the few Bulldogs who was actively looking for his shot - sort of the opposite of the previous eight games, when everybody but Leslie was doing so.

But it seemed that at about the five-minute mark, the Bulldogs realized they were in yet another close game that shouldn't be close. The speed picked up, and not surprisingly the lead expanded. The key moment seemed to be the Robinson driving layup, which made it 27-24. The defensive rebounding also got a lot stronger at that point.

The half did finish on a bad note, however, as Georgia threw the ball away, allowing an easy Arkansas State layup as the buzzer sounded. Mark Fox is probably happy to have something to yell at his team about in the locker room - although the first 15 minutes provided that too.

10:28 left in first half, Georgia leads 23-18

One encouraging sign for Georgia so far: Travis Leslie has five points, after what's been a pretty quiet start to this season for the star junior.

Chris Barnes is leading the way for the Bulldogs with six points. The scoring is pretty spread around so far, and Mark Fox is using his bench liberally. These next five games will be a chance to iron out the rotation heading into SEC play, so guys like Sherrard Brantley, Marcus Thornton and Donte' Williams need to take advantage of their playing time.

Georgia's defense needs to clamp up a bit here. Arkansas State is getting more open shots than it should.

11:50 a.m.: Pregame thought

The line on this game is Georgia -12.5, which makes sense if you look at the team's records: Georgia is 6-2 and Arkansas State is 3-6.

But the big question is whether Georgia can really pull off a blowout win? They haven't yet: That nine-point loss against Colorado (when the Bulldogs pulled away late) remains the team's largest margin of victory this season.

Trey Thompkins' absence has had an impact on some of those close calls, obviously: The two-point wins over Mississippi Valley State and Saint Louis were without the star forward. But even with him (albeit hobbled) they barely beat Manhattan, UAB and Georgia Tech. (Those latter two games were against better opponents, obviously.)

Meanwhile, Arkansas State took No. 14 Memphis to overtime, and has won three of its past four. So ... who knows, this could still be interesting.

11:20 a.m.: Mr. Blog Man reports to duty

On a cold, rainy day, what could be better than coming to Stegeman Coliseum and covering a basketball game? Well, I suppose you could argue that sitting in front of a fire with some hot cocoa would be up there.

(I actually tried to merge the two and make a fire here in the press room, but that made the ushers pretty mad. Why no one said anything when I walked in with a bunch of wood and kindling under my arm, I don't know.)

Anyway, here we are at the arena, where Georgia will be taking on ... (looking at program) ... Arkansas State. Their nickname appears to be the Red Wolves, and they've got some height.

John Brady is Arkansas State's coach, so that's intriguing too. Brady, you will recall, is the former coach at LSU, where he led the Tigers to a Final Four, then two years later was canned. He was replaced by Trent Johnson, who happens to be close friends with fellow former Nevada coach Mark Fox. Small world, yada yada.

Brady was known as quite the character at LSU. One story I heard: Brady was once ejected early from a game at an SEC West opponent, and instead of sulking in the locker room, he spent the rest of the game wandering aimlessly around the campus.

The rain would probably prevent a repeat of that today, but if you do see a 50-something man wandering around campus and grumbling this afternoon, that might be him.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Looks like we might eek out another win over a mickey mouse team. Boy are we in trouble.

<--- Dawg Stephen Himself said...

Although I wish we were handling a few teams better, I will still take these close wins over the close LOSSES. Last year we found a way to lose these games...

Leave it to ANONYMOUS poster to post doubt, hate, and unhappiness without the "Basketballs" of courage enough to write their real name.