Georgia pulled off a 64-57 victory over Eastern Kentucky in a game Coach Fox said his team was “lucky to get a win.” While Georgia came into this game on a seven-game win streak, EKU had lost their last three, averaging just 52 points during the stretch. What was perhaps seen as a final tuneup game before SEC play begins on January 8th, turned into a back-and-forth struggle to the end.
Georgia opened the game well, scoring six unanswered points in the paint. Their first 14 points continued in that fashion and it seemed Georgia would be well on their way to another victory. But as any observer would have noticed this season, Georgia hasn’t shown it can consistently kill off weaker competition.
EKU managed to turn the game into a jump-shooting contest and Georgia were more than happy to oblige despite their obvious size advantage. The game began slipping away from Georgia, as sloppy turnovers and poor shooting allowed EKU to grow in confidence and get back into the game. Georgia led by just one at halftime, 34-33.
The start of the second half didn’t yield much better results from Georgia. EKU stormed out to a 6-2 run thanks to two Georgia turnovers. EKU held the lead until the 11:46 mark in the second half and tied the game again with just 7:17 remaining. It was only then that Georgia finally returned to what got them the early lead: easy points in the paint. Trey Thompkins took over the late stages of the game shooting 4/5 from the field and hitting two free throws. Combined with some wizardry from Gerald Robinson, a monster Travis-Leslieesque alley-oop followed by a behind-the-back assist, and Georgia was able put the game out of reach.
Coach Fox was “not pleased at all” with his team. “If I don’t start coaching better and we don’t start playing better, we’re going to be in for a long 2011.” Frustrated with the team’s routine of letting teams hang around, Fox said “We can’t wait until six minutes left to start playing like we’re capable.” Though none of the players were happy with the overall performance, Thompkins did add that during the final stretch he started to feel like he was getting his rhythm back. EKU Coach Jeff Neubauer was complimentary of Thompkins, stating, “He’s a special player…we tried to keep the ball away from him.”
Luckily for Georgia, they weren’t able to.
Notes: Coach Fox wouldn’t say much about the team’s upcoming game next week against Kentucky as he hadn’t studied them yet, but did add “We’re playing in the SEC East, so we have a lot of wars ahead of us.”
I talked to Gerald Robinson about his monster jam in the second half. When I told him I didn’t know he could jump like that he replied, “Come on man I can jump. Just wait, I’ll show you some more stuff. I got some more tricks up my sleeve.” Anyone care to see a dunk contest between he and Leslie?
Connor Nolte sprained his ankle during his 1 minute today. He was walking around and will be ready to go against Kentucky. Nolte was happy to say he played his last game with the mask today.
We interrupt your bowl season to bring you some live Georgia basketball as Eastern Kentucky travels down to take on the Dawgs. Georgia has been playing well of late, coming into their own and getting into a rhythm against some weaker competition. Georgia started off a bit slow due to Trey Thompkins’ injury and played some weaker teams a little closer than fans would like. They also struggled against top-tied competition while Thompkins got into the flow of the game. That flow seems to be going well now, as Georgia has reeled off 7 in a row, bringing them to ten wins. EKU will be in the final opportunity for Georgia to work out any kinks before SEC play on January 8th when Kentucky come into town.
EKU, from the Ohio Valley Conference, isn’t quite as hot as Georgia, having lost their last three games averaging just 52 points and shooting under 35% during the stretch. Thier key player in Josh Daniel, a 6′5” Senior guard averaging 11 points per game.
Tip is at 1pm here in a very empty Fort Stegeman (there’s only 3 other media members here). I’ll bring you all the important action right here.
Starters for the Dawgs: Leslie, Ware, Robinson, Thompkins, Price. EKU: Stommes, Perrin, Jones, Daniel, Filipek
On their first possesions, EKU hasn’t come remotely close to scoring. An airball, a block and a wild shot in the lane. When they have had two open looks, they’ve bricked both. Georgia, however, is taking advantage of their size and has 8 points, all in the paint.
If you placed a bet the Justin Stommes would get the first dunk of the game, you probably just won a ridiculous amount of money. Good backdoor cut gets the open look combined with a 3-pointer leave it at EKU 5 – UGA 10 after another UGA layup.
EKU simply can’t handle Georgia in inside. Every single time Georgia gets it in the paint, they’ve scored. EKU is resorting to jump shooting, and given their shooting percentage, that’s not going to work out. They’re still in the game for now, 16-12 Dawgs.
Georgia has gotten away from what’s been easy money so far and have a couple of turnovers and a handful of missed jumpers. Meanwhile, EKU continues to struggle in just about every aspect of offense but due to Georgia’s attempt to transition to a shooting team, they’ve managed to close the gap, 20-17 Georgia with 7:27 left in the first half.
27-24 Dawgs with 3:49 left. A whole lotta the same going on — both teams continue to shoot and miss.
Very poor finish to the half, though not atypical of Georgia this season. Off to a great start, then take their foot off the gas. If they can get the ball back in the paint consistently, they’ll win easily. But this jump-shooting contest doesn’t serve either team well. Ugly basketball. Georgia leads 34-33 at half.
As you may expect, Georgia is just 1-6 from 3. Despite limiting EKU to 46% from the field, the Colonels have 5 threes, keeping them in the game. Jeff Johnson has lit Georgia up coming off the bench, going 6-7 including 3-4 from range. He leads all scorers with 15. Thompkins leads the Dawgs with 12.
It’s the signature throw-it-near-the-rim-and-let-Travis-go-get-it play! Good move from Georgia to open the half as they try to get some energy and momentum. However, it doesn’t appear to pay off. A sloppy turnovers and two fouls have now given EKU a three-point lead, 39-36. Coach Fox is not happy.
Free throws by Thornton make it a one-point game but a three from EKU extend the lead. Thompkins hits a jumper and it’s 40-41 EKU with 14 minutes left. A stop and a foul on Thompkins put him on the line, though if you’ve been following Georgia’s season, you could guess that he missed both. Fortunately, Georgia gets the rebound and Thompkins hits a jumper, getting the lead back for Georgia, 42-41. But EKU answer back with a jumper in the lane, bringing it to 43-42 EKU with 12:36 left.
A Leslie three brings the sparse crowd to life for the first time and gets the lead back for Georgia (45-43) during this unexpected back-and-forth battle. Their defense has picked up again, seemingly sensing the urgency. Even Chris Barnes is stepping it up, nailing two free throws (in a row!). Vincent Williams ignites the rage of Coach Fox by taking and missing a 3, then missing a layup. However, Georgia still has the lead, 47-45 with 7:49 left.
Trey Thompkins has put the team on his back, scoring the last six. He’s on fire right now, no matter how EKU tries to disrupt him on the court or with timeouts. EKU hit a 3, and it’s 53-50 Dawgs with 4:45 left.
WOAAAAAAH! Dustin Ware floats up an alley oop to Gerald Robinson who flies through the air to slam it home with two hands. WOW!!! I didn’t know he could jump like that! He may have just out Travis’d Travis! Thompkins is heading to the line as EKU have little choice but to foul the hot hand. It’s 55-50 with Thompkins heading to the line after the official timeout.
Trey hit both, then hit a fadeaway. This has been a fantastic performance down the stretch from the preseason SEC POY.
Well, if there’s a play to seal a game, we just saw it. Robinson behind the back to Leslie who goes up and under for the layup and the 6-point lead with under a minute left.
Georgia letting them score, EKU fouling, 30 seconds left. This one should be over.
Final score: Georgia 64 EKU 57