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Friday, December 3, 2010

Hoops: UAB game blog

Georgia wins 66-64

The final minutes were scary for Georgia, and not just because of the score. But it came out with the victory and its star player appears OK.

Trey Thompkins stayed on the floor, hurt after a driving layup by teammate Gerald Robinson with 14.9 seconds left, which gave Georgia a 64-61 left. The fans, realizing who was hurt, went quiet.

But after a minute Thompkins walked off on his own power, so it didn't look like he re-injured his ankle. He may have just had the wind knocked out of him.

As for the game, here's how Georgia escaped:

Jeremy Price sunk a couple free throws to make it 62-59 with 1:04 left. A running layup by Cameron Moore got the Blazers back within one, and with a 12-second difference between the game and shot clock, UAB elected not to foul, and Fox elected not to call a timeout.

Robinson, left to his own devices, made a driving layup with 14.9 seconds left – but the result left Trey Thompkins on his stomach, down with an injury.

While Thompkins lay down, Fox gave his team defensive instructions – don’t foul. UAB’s Jamarr Sanders squared up for a 3, but it was short. Robinson rebounded, was fouled, and hit both FTs.

So Georgia escapes with perhaps its first quality win of the season. Assuming Thompkins is OK, a good night for the Bulldogs.

3:53 left in second half, Georgia leads 56-55

The Bulldogs haven't trailed in this game - but they may after the media timeout.

UAB will be shooting free throws, and this is officially anybody's game. The Bulldogs are killing themselves on the defensive end, especially with rebounding: Georgia would have a comfortable lead if it didn't give up so many offensive rebounds.

On the plus side, Georgia’s half-court possessions are getting a little more controlled. Not surprisingly, the result was two set-play baskets: Trey Thompkins posted up and banked in a shot, then Jeremy Price did the same. That made it 56-51, but UAB has come right back again.

The shots also aren't falling this half: Gerald Robinson had a wide-open baseline 3-point attempt come up way short a minute ago.

10:41 left in second half, Georgia leads 50-46

Whereas Georgia was the energetic team in the first half, now it’s UAB, which is showing off its athleticism and seems in control of the tempo, though it still trails.

Trey Thompkins hasn’t scored, after notching 14 in the first half. And Travis Leslie remains stuck at four points. I'll say this: Leslie has a knack for completely disappearing from games, and he's doing it again.

But Georgia does have a bit more of a cushion than it did a minute ago. Gerald Robinson hit a big 3, rolling off a screen and nailing a shot from the top of the key. That made it 50-44, after UAB blew a chance to get within one by missing two free throws.

Marcus Thornton contributed a nice offensive rebound, literally grabbing the ball away from a Blazer.

By the way, Mike Davis remains a weird duck. The UAB head coach, who became known for his eccentric ways at Indiana, is spending part of the second half sitting on the end of the bench, even when the action is on the opposite end. I’ve never seen a coach do that.

15:42 left in second half, Georgia leads 47-42

Well that didn’t take long. Georgia, which led by as many as 15 late in the first half, saw its lead dwindle to three here early in the second half.

UAB went on a 15-4 run that spanned both halves, thanks to a lot of layups, and a 3 to start the second half.

The Blazers missed a 3 that would have tied it, got the offensive rebound, but then turned it over. On the other end, Dustin Ware hit a jumper.

End of the run? Not yet: UAB will be at the free throw line when the media timeout ends.

Halftime stats

The rebounding margin is what stands out: Georgia 23, UAB 10. In fact, the Bulldogs have more offensive rebounds (11) than the Blazers have total.

Georgia shot 56 percent in the half (20-for-36), with Trey Thompkins 7-for-9. UAB shot 47 percent (14-for-30).

Travis Leslie (four points) and Gerald Robinson (six points) have been kinda quiet. But guys like Jeremy Price, Sherrard Brantley and Chris Barnes are picking up the slack.

End of half, Georgia leads

No doubt, this is the best Georgia has looked this season. And it's probably no accident that its star player is as healthy as he's been.

Trey Thompkins, looking fully recovered from a high ankle sprain, scored a team-high 14 points in the first half.

Jeremy Price (eight points) continues to be a factor, and is a big reason Georgia is dominating on the boards.

Sherrard Brantley also has a couple 3s, which is a good sign. The Bulldogs need 3-point shooting, and they're finally getting it, at least in this game.

The Bulldogs are just playing with a speed and focus that I haven't seen in them this year. The players (and to a certain extent, Mark Fox) said the team was tentative in Orlando, getting used to playing once again with Thompkins. That unease is gone tonight.

That said, this one isn't over by any stretch, especially considering UAB is capable of scoring a lot of points in a hurry. Georgia's biggest lead was 15, late in the half, but the Blazers showed they weren't going away.

9:56 left in first half, Georgia leads 25-14

Georgia is having a lot easier time with the home rims than the ones at Disney.

The Bulldogs have jumped out to a big, early lead on UAB thanks to some good shooting, which is coming from all areas: Trey Thompkins has eight points, Jeremy Price has six, Sherrard Brantley has a 3-pointer ... I could go on.

There haven't been many empty possessions for the Bulldogs, who look very active on both ends. They're not giving up offensive rebounds, have two blocks, a steal and five assists.

Georgia head coach Mark Fox said Thursday that some of the cold shooting in Orlando may have had to do with the game ball, and that Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan had reported the same issue. Whatever ball they're using tonight seems to suit the Bulldogs just fine.

15:59 left in first half, Georgia leads 14-4

Georgia is off to a great start. Trey Thompkins, looking a lot more comfortable than he did in Orlando, scored the game’s first two baskets. Then Travis Leslie threw down an alley-oop dunk, and Gerald Robinson Jr. had a driving reverse layup. It was 8-2.

Those are the Bulldogs' top three guys, so that's a good sign. In Georgia's first few games, including lackluster home wins, the stars took awhile to get going. Especially Leslie.

Thompkins is now up to eight points. Yeah, he looks fine.

6:25 p.m.: The writer arrives.

Welcome to Stegeman Coliseum ... Well, you're probably not here. But if you care about hoops, you should be.

This is a fairly big nonconference game for Georgia, which is off to a 4-2 start and needs a quality win or two for its postseason resume'. And UAB would be it. There's a good chance the Blazers are going to be the best team from the great state of Alabama that Georgia faces this year.

(Unless the Bulldogs draw the Auburn compliance office. If they can get Cam Newton off, they can probably win a few basketball games too. ... Did I just write that? Oh never mind.)

UAB (6-1) already owns a win over one SEC team, Arkansas, and should be a contender in Conference USA.

As I elucidated in today's papers, the next two games could be a critical stretch for Georgia. So it sets up an interesting night.

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