Missouri at Georgia preview: Dawgs make you work

Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia has reached 9-5 in SEC play by out-working opponents. The Dawgs hit the glass and get to the line, and it has allowed them to overcome poor shooting. If Missouri wants to avenge an early loss, the Tigers will have to work.

Last Time

From Study Hall:

Mizzou has simply proven in the last two games that if it doesn't get strong contributions from all of its four best players -- Clarkson, Brown, Ross, and JW3 -- it's going to struggle. Clarkson was awful, Williams was frustrated, passive, and foul-prone, and Brown and Ross couldn't make up the difference, even with at least a little help from Criswell and Ryan Rosburg. [...]

Minus-7 on the glass. Wow. [...]

I don't even know what else to say. In the end, the teams shot basically the same -- Mizzou better on 3-pointers and free throws, Georgia better on 2-pointers -- and handled the ball about the same. But rebounding, a Mizzou strength, was an absolute disaster. And as Frank Haith says quite often, rebounding is effort. It's also positioning, luck, etc. But the effort was visibly lacking early on. It allowed Georgia to stay in the game and generate serious confidence while shooting poorly. [...]

Even if this team does bounce back, and I think it will, last night further proved how little margin for error the squad has. Torren Jones isn't ready to spell JW3. Shane Rector isn't ready to spell Wes Clark. Tony Criswell is going to bring something bad to the table for every something good. This team is what it is, but it can still be a good team as long as the effort is there. For too much of the game last night, it wasn't, and by the time it was, Georgia was too confident and too dialed in.

Frank Haith talked about effort again after the loss to Alabama on Saturday, but at least the Tigers rebounded well in Tuscaloosa. They did no such thing against Georgia the first time around, and if they want to avoid a sweep in Athens, they'll have to change that. Georgia is as bad at shooting as Missouri is at preventing you from shooting well, but they hit the glass hard, and they get to the line. That's all they can do, and they do it well.

Georgia Bulldogs (15-11, 9-5)

Since last time...


UGA Opp.
Pace (No. of Possessions)

Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.05 1.02
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.31 1.19
2-PT FG% 42% 42%
3-PT FG% 36% 33%
FT% 69% 68%
True Shooting % 51.9% 49.9%




UGA Opp.
Assists/Gm 9.9 10.1
Steals/Gm 4.9 6.9
Turnovers/Gm 13.2 9.8
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.12 1.74




UGA Opp.
Expected Off. Rebounds/Gm 11.0 11.8
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 13.6 11.0
Difference +2.6 -0.8

Georgia massacred Missouri on the glass in Columbia, and the Dawgs are 9-5 in conference play for the same reason. They shoot almost exactly the same percentages as their opponents, and they lose the ball-handling battle relatively handily. But they draw more fouls than you do, and they grab more second-chance opportunities than you do. If you match their effort and physicality, they don't really have a Plan B. (Case in point: losing to Florida, Kentucky, and Tennessee by an average of 22 points.) But if you don't, they'll take you down.

Ken Pomeroy Stats (Conference Play Only)

UGA Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

UGA Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 8 14 UGA big
Effective FG% 14 12 MU
Turnover % 13 12 push
Off. Reb. % 3 8 UGA big
FTA/FGA 1 11 UGA big
MU Offense vs UGA Defense Ranks

MU Offense UGA Defense Advantage
Efficiency 3 4 push
Effective FG% 3 1 UGA
Turnover % 7 14 MU big
Off. Reb. % 7 2 UGA big
FTA/FGA 2 7 MU big

Where the Dawgs have struggled of late

Well, they can't shoot. That's an obstacle. The Dawgs are dead last in conference play in 2PT%, but they make up for it by earning and occasionally making free throws (first in FTA/FGA, ninth in FT%) and hitting 3-pointers (third in 3PT%). (ALERT! ALERT! ALERT!) They don't take many 3s, but they make open looks, and ... well ... you get open looks against Missouri.

Beyond that, this really is a bad ball-handling team, worse than Missouri, even. The Dawgs force even fewer turnovers than Mizzou and commit a lot more, and while "live-ball turnovers" have been a recent issue for MU, they've been a constant issue for UGA.

Where they have been best

They hustle. They draw contact, they hit the offensive glass as a team, and they manage to both go for blocks (third in Block%) and pull down defensive rebounds (second in DR%), which is relatively rare. They hit the glass as a team, and it has won them quite a few conference games.

UGA's Season Since Last Time

  • Wins (Team Rank is from KenPom.com)
    No. 53 Arkansas (66-61, OT)
    at No. 54 Missouri (70-64, OT)
    No. 67 LSU (91-78)
    No. 82 Ole Miss (61-60)
    No. 107 Alabama (66-58)
    No. 129 Texas A&M (62-50)
    No. 147 South Carolina (97-76)
    at No. 147 South Carolina (73-56)
    at No. 221 Mississippi State (75-55)
  • Losses
    at No. 4 Florida (50-72)
    at No. 17 Kentucky (54-79)
    at No. 26 Tennessee (48-67)
    No. 92 Vanderbilt (54-59)
    at No. 121 Auburn (67-74)

Yes, Georgia's third-place presence in conference play isn't doing the SEC any favors in terms of perceptions. Georgia lost to Davidson and (even worse) Georgia Tech and went 6-6 in non-conference play but has won nine of 14 in conference. That's certainly not good. But it does bear mentioning that Georgia has actually improved since non-conference play. The Dawgs were 170th in Pomeroy's rankings when they came to Missouri, but they're up to 90th now. No, 90th isn't very good, but to rise that far, they have to have probably played like at least a top-50 team over most of the last two months.

Well ... maybe top 50-75. The Missouri win sent out a warning signal to the conference's better teams, and Florida, Kentucky, and Tennessee very much did not allow UGA to outwork them. They dominated the Dawgs, who also slipped up to Vandy and Auburn. Still, against teams outside of the top 30, UGA is 9-2. That's pretty solid.

UGA Player Stats Since Last Time

Player AdjGS*/Gm GmSc/Min Line
Kenny Gaines (6'3, 195, So.) 10.9 0.39 27.8 MPG, 12.8 PPG (45% 2PT, 39T 3PT, 76% FT), 2.5 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.4 TOPG
Charles Mann (6'5, 210, So.) 10.4 0.33 31.6 MPG, 13.4 PPG (39% 2PT, 30% 3PT, 68% FT), 4.6 RPG, 3.1 APG, 3.5 TOPG, 3.0 PFPG
Marcus Thornton (6'8, 235, Jr.) 10.3 0.37 28.1 MPG, 8.6 PPG (40% 2PT, 64% FT), 7.4 RPG, 1.6 BPG, 1.4 TOPG
Brandon Morris (6'7, 215, So.) 9.3 0.32 28.9 MPG, 8.9 PPG (47% 2PT, 50% 3PT, 62% FT), 3.8 RPG, 1.6 APG, 2.4 PFPG
Donte' Williams (6'9, 225, Sr.) 7.3 0.32 22.6 MPG, 4.7 PPG (53% 2PT, 63% FT), 5.5 RPG, 1.2 BPG, 2.9 PFPG
Nemanja Djurisic (6'8, 230, Jr.) 6.3 0.27 23.1 MPG, 7.9 PPG (45% 2PT, 41% 3PT, 75% FT), 3.9 RPG, 2.4 TOPG
Juwan Parker (6'4, 200, Fr.) 4.6 0.29 15.6 MPG, 4.0 PPG (25% 2PT, 15% 3PT, 85% FT), 2.9 RPG, 1.3 APG
J.J. Frazier (5'10, 150, Fr.) 3.1 0.35 8.6 MPG, 3.3 PPG
Cameron Forte (6'7, 220, So.) 1.3 0.19 6.5 MPG, 1.5 PPG, 1.2 RPG
Taylor Echols (6'1, 160, Jr.) 0.4 0.07 5.3 MPG, 1.5 PPG
Tim Dixon (6'10, 230, Jr.) 0.4 0.06 7.1 MPG, 0.9 PPG

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds. It redistributes a team's points based not only on points scored, but also by giving credit for assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls. It is a stat intended to determine who had the biggest overall impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

  • Highest Usage%: Mann (27%), Gaines (24%), Djurisic (21%)
  • Highest Floor%: Williams (45%), Morris (40%), Gaines (38%)
  • Highest %Pass: Parker (54%), Mann (49%), Morris (46%)
  • Highest %Shoot: Gaines (50%), Thornton (50%), Williams (43%)
  • Highest %Fouled: Thornton (23%), Mann (19%), Morris (17%)
  • Highest %T/O: Djurisic (17%), Thornton (10%), Mann (9%)
  • Highest OR%: Thornton (12%), Williams (12%), Djurisic (7%)
  • Highest DR%: Thornton (18%), Williams (16%), Parker (15%)

  • Of the seven players who average at least 10 minutes per game, none average greater than 0.40 Adj. GS points per minute and only five average even 0.30. This is a team that needs a lot of things to go right to win. Charles Mann and Brandon Morris need to get to the line, Kenny Gaines has to limit the turnovers, Marcus Thornton needs to hit the glass effectively, Donte' Williams needs to block some shots and crash the offensive glass, and Nemanja Djurisic needs to hit open 3s. But a lot of the things on that list of needs are controlled by effort, and Georgia has shown plenty of that.

  • Djurisic, by the way? When previewing UGA the first time around, I said "Every time I see Nemanja Djurisic play, he looks really good." He responded by making four of five damn 3-pointers, including a couple of late daggers. He's made nine of 27 since then. And I think every single one of us just assumes he'll make four of five again tonight.

Keys to the Game

  1. The whistles. Georgia makes a living off of getting to the line. The way the officials call this game, and the way that Missouri responds by creating positive contact of its own, could be huge here. The teams combined for 47 free throws in Columbia, and Georgia has only gotten more physical since then. The Tigers have to match 'em.

  2. The glass. Georgia is almost certainly going to win the rebounding battle, but there's a hell of a difference between a minus-seven expected rebounding margin and minus-two. Rebounds create extra possessions, and Georgia needs extra possessions to score with a poor shooting team. Get that margin to minus-2 or less, and Mizzou will probably win.

  3. The 3-pointer. Opponents take 22 3-pointers per game against Missouri. When they make 9-11, Missouri tends to lose. When they make 6-8, Missouri tends to win. Georgia only takes 14 per game, but I fully expect that number to creep toward 17-21. Make 'em, and Missouri probably loses.

Prediction

Pomeroy projects another virtual tossup, with Georgia projected a 70-69 winner. And it's certainly easy to see how the combination of offensive rebounding and 3-point shooting could doom Missouri. It's been a winning recipe for beating the Tigers at times this year. But 3-pointers are still semi-random (as is Mizzou's effectiveness on the glass), and if Georgia's not shooting 40-60% on them, the Tigers have some advantages here.

My original thought heading into the final five games was that Missouri could go 3-2 and still be relatively safe in terms of an NCAA Tourney bid. Well ... the Tigers just used up one of those two losses, and they still have a trip to Knoxville in a couple of weeks. It would behoove them to bust their asses on the glass and figure out how to get a win here. But you already knew that.

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