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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hoops blog: UGA vs. LSU

Final: Georgia 73, LSU 53

Georgia has taken care of business again, and the final minute offered a fitting, feel-good finish.

Senior Jeremy Price was taken out with 48 seconds left, reaching down and kissing the "G" halfcourt logo and waving to the crowd.

And with 23 seconds left, walk-on Matt Bucklin was fouled while making a basket. That brought a rousing ovation from the crowd, which was also pleased when Bucklin finished off the three-point play.

So Georgia has hit the 20-win mark, and will enter its final regular-season with a chance to get its 10th league win.

You could also argue that Georgia has pretty much stamped its NCAA tournament ticket with this one. I wouldn't go that far quite yet, because you never know what might happen with the rest of the bubble. But at this moment, yeah, this probably did it, the Bulldogs have to feel good.

7:43 left in second half, Georgia leads 53-39

Things have slowed down considerably the last few minutes, and Georgia would be happy to keep it that way.

The Bulldogs took control of the game early in the second half, and have led by as many as 16. Barring a major comeback by LSU, which doesn't seem capable of that, the Bulldogs are less than eight minutes from their a 20-win season, a guaranteed winning SEC record, and one step closer to an NCAA berth.

The students, of course, are taking a peek towards next year: When Travis Leslie went to the line a minute ago they chanted "one more year." If Trey Thompkins ends up at the line, I'm sure they'll repeat it.

15:35 left in second half, Georgia leads 41-32

The action has picked up here, finally, and the Bulldogs have been on the good end of it. They're on the verge of pulling away here, it appears.

A moment ago, Travis Leslie blocked a jump shot and came down with the ball, firing downcourt to Gerald Robinson for the easy basket and a 13-point lead. A nice play by Leslie, who a minute later was taken out of the game. Mark Fox then stood over Leslie on the bench and spoke to him for a few minutes. At first it looked like Leslie might've been getting treatment, but maybe Fox was just having a word with him.

Halftime: Georgia leads 30-25

Against a better team, Georgia might be in more trouble right now. But against a young LSU team which went nearly nine minutes without a field goal, Georgia was able to put together a sluggish half and still lead by five.

Dustin Ware led the charge in the latter part of the half, hitting three 3-pointers. But Trey Thompkins, Gerald Robinson and Jeremy Price also have six points apiece.

What Georgia needs to do in the second half to put LSU away, or at least hold on:

- Do better on the boards. the team's each had 16 rebounds in the first half, with most of Georgia's (nine) coming on the offensive end.
- Travis Leslie needs to be more of a factor. He only two shots in the half, missing both, though he got to the line twice.
- Keep forcing turnovers. LSU has 11 so far, which is partly its own ineptitude, but Georgia's pressure has also been pretty good.

3:00 left in first half, Georgia leads 23-19

Georgia has roared back into the lead - well I'm not sure I'd say it "roared" back. LSU's offense has pretty much gone away, while Georgia has ironed out its half-court offense, scoring enough to take the lead.

LSU hasn't scored a field goal in eight minutes. Dustin Ware has a pair of 3-pointers for Georgia.

To be honest, it's kind of a sluggish atmosphere in general here. Even the officials, headlined by the attention-seeking Teddy Valentine, haven't called many fouls. (And I love Teddy V., he's a good official. But he loves the cameras.)

11:00 left in first half, LSU leads 17-11

A sluggish start here for Georgia, for a change. But the Bulldogs appear to be on the verge of getting things in order.

Against the LSU zone, the Georgia offense was having trouble getting open looks. But the ball movement has improved the past few possessions, leading to some dunks.

The problem on defense has just been LSU hitting shots. Storm Warren has six points for the Tigers, who have enough young talent that the longer they stay in this game, the more trouble it could become for Georgia.

Pregame thoughts

I posted earlier about the injury to Marcus Thornton. While the freshman forward may have a bright career ahead of him, I'm not sure his absence is any cause to worry about Georgia's chances tonight.

Of course, having gone this long by avoiding the bad loss ...

There's plenty at stake for the Bulldogs tonight. A win might just be the final step towards an at-large bid. Two losses to finish the season - at Alabama, and the first round of the SEC tournament - would put things back in doubt. But when you look at that bubble and see teams like Virginia Tech, Clemson, Richmond, etc., I still have a hard time downgrading Georgia's chances.

Then there's the 20th win plateau. It would officially be Georgia's first 20-win season since 1996-97, but that doesn't include 2001-02, when the 22-10 record was vacated.

And of course it's senior night. Jeremy Price and Chris Barnes are definitely playing their final game at Stegeman Coliseum. As for Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie ... we'll see.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As an fyi, UGA went 21-14 in 1997-1998, though that record includes the team's wins in the SEC Tournament and NIT.