Saturday, March 10, 2012

Recap and Reload: On to the Next One

Vanderbilt laid a solid second-half beat down on Georgia last night after what might have been the worst offensive first half of the season. Two of the three players that I wanted to see step up shined, with Brad playing, in my opinion, a fantastic game, and Festus also contributing. John Jenkins was average, which is fantastic for most teams, and Jeff Taylor.....oh Jeff. Gotta give props to Lance too, who did some great dirty work.

Offensively, we were out of rhythm for most of the first half. After starting out hot, we once again succumbed to whatever delusional mania consumes us and convinces us that we are a bad offensive team. The absolute best thing that came out of last night was that we were not careless with the ball. The rebounding battle was about even, but with only 8 turnovers to Georgia's 17, we attempted ten more shots. You see what happens when we attempt ten more shots, even if we are shooting terribly as we were last night. Taking care of the ball is the best thing this team can be doing right now.

Defensively, we played very well, holding Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Gerald Robinson to a total of five points. Neither ever got an easy look. Despite Jeff's offensive woes of late, he still plays masterful defense. That'll come in handy for the next game, where there are only two real offensive threats. Ken Pomeroy suggests we took a big jump in defensive efficiency last night. I'm skeptical since Georgia is so bad on offense as a team, but I do think holding a team's two best players to 5 points total deserves some props.

No rest for the weary as the 'Dores take on Ole Miss this afternoon at 2:30. Ole Miss scratched out a nice overtime win over Tennessee last night, enduring a shot in the mouth at the buzzer in the form of a bank three from Skylar McBee. I said it on twitter and I hate to admit it, but Tennessee got royally hosed when the ball clearly went off of Terrance Henry's face and it was declared last-touched by Tennessee. I know fans will want to comment on how they got some calls this way or that, but all possessions in basketball are not weighted equal, to an even greater extent than football. Tennessee had a turnover and a chance to tie the game with 14.5 seconds left. A very obvious referee error ended that chance. If Jeff Green traveled (which he did), then that ball is last-touched by Ole Miss.

That being said, Ole Miss has somehow developed a heart-beat for the NCAA tournament, probably a result of the incredibly soft nature of the bubble this year. Vanderbilt dropped a hundred on them in their last meeting, but teams change, and the Vanderbilt offense that showed up last night will need to be a lot better. Ole Miss does one thing extremely well that could be a massive problem for the 'Dores, and that is getting after the offensive glass. They did a masterful job of it last night against a very rugged Tennessee squad, with Murphy Holloway getting several nice put-backs. The 'Dores will have to be tough in establishing position and exploding for the ball, as the only way Ole Miss pulls this off is if 1) we have a cold shooting game again, 2) we let them get a bunch of second chance opportunities and 3) they take more free throws than us. Ole Miss doesn't force turnovers, but they do block some shots. They also get to the free throw line very well, though they have only one player who is a threat from there, the aforementioned Terrance Henry. Last night they showed up though, hitting 21-31 from the line. Limiting Henry and Jarvis Summers will be another huge key to victory.

All that being said, Ken Pomeroy projects us as a 7 point winner with a 75% confidence. To say that the bracket could not have set itself out better for us to reach our first conference championship game since the tournament restarted in 1979 is an understatement. UK has to take on Florida, who had to beat Alabama, while we get UGA and Ole Miss. Once again, NO excuse not to win today.

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