A tale of two halves: Georgia will try to put together a full game against LSU
Georgia has struggled out of the gate in games this season, but will try and fix that versus the Tigers
Georgia during a game against the LSU Tigers at PMAC on 1/6/2021 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Many times this year, especially this month, Georgia basketball has had to climb out of a hole to remain in games.
The Bulldogs have had lots of first-half shooting struggles this season that lead to them trying to regain ground in the second half of games, where a win could have been the end result. The latest example was against Florida on Saturday, where Georgia trailed by 14 and shot 33 percent from the field, despite only losing by seven in the end.
Georgia has lost three of their last four. Earlier this month, the Bulldogs struggled against a ranked Tennessee team, but a strong second-half surge cut the lead to just six points with under two minutes to go. The loss could have easily been avoided without the first-half miscues.
In Georgia’s win over Missouri, the team trailed by as many as 13 in the final half before storming back to upset the Tigers. Again, another case of the first-half woes put Georgia in a situation where they were fighting until the very end.
Against Florida, Tennessee and Missouri, the Bulldogs have outscored their opponent 142-111 in the second half.
UGA will face a tough team in LSU on Tuesday night at Stegeman Coliseum (7 p.m., SECN) and will hope for a better result than on Saturday.
“We’ve had conversations about it,” Georgia senior guard Justin Kier said. “We fight so hard to come back in the second half and I believe those are games we can win if we don’t get down by so much in the first half. So, yeah, Coach (Crean) has talked about it, and us as players have talked about it. Digging that deep of a hole you can’t always come back from it.”
It’s not just the poor shooting performances that are hurting the Bulldogs. It’s a combination of turnovers, foul trouble and overall sloppiness. It’s something that is avoidable and can be cleaned up, but it’s something that hasn't happened just quite yet.
“It’s been kind of toward the middle of the first half where we’ve had a little drought,” point guard Sahvir Wheeler said. “We’ve had some really good starts, but we’ve kind of get a little stagnant and that’s something we’ve been working on in practice. We’ve had some really good second halves, so we’ve taken the high points of those second halves and emphasized them in practice.”
Wheeler said the problems will get better, but it’s just a matter of putting a whole 40-minute, complete game together.
“I think against Florida, we got some good looks, but we just kind of missed them,” Wheeler said. “We're getting better, we're working hard, and the team confidence is still high. The coaching staff is still putting together great game plans for us to win games, too.”
You have to continue to build confidence throughout the game,” head coach Tom Crean said when asked about the point deficits and the close games this season. “Obviously, when we play pretty well, we’ve been able to string some stops together but we’ve also scored in a pretty good clip, and our shooting has been good. I don’t think, as a coach, you can never allow the lack of offense to influence how you’re coaching them during the game.
“The last thing you want to do during the game is put more pressure on them. You want to make sure they’re better decision-makers, you want to make sure they’re understanding what we’re trying to get. You have to coach them throughout the game to get better but you don’t coach them with a level of pressure that makes it even tougher. Sometimes when that basket doesn’t look very big and you start putting new pressure on them, that basket starts to look like a thimble.”
Wednesday night’s matchup against LSU has the potential to be a track meet. The Tigers (14-6, 9-4) lead the conference by averaging 83. 1 points per game. Georgia (13-9, 6-9) has already proven that they can hang with LSU. In the last matchup, the Tigers edged the Bulldogs 94-92 in an overtime win. Georgia led by a large margin in the second half, but that lead widdled away as the final minutes of regulation came to a close.
For Crean, this game is important because he believes his team is much better off than a month ago.
“We’re such a different team and I’m sure they are, too,” Crean said. “It’s much more about where they’re at right now and what we’re coming off of from our games last week.”
Here is the video from Crean’s Monday presser: