ATHENS — Five observations as Georgia was blasted by No. 15 Texas A&M, 79-45, in front of a sell-out crowd at Stegeman Coliseum.
1. GEORGIA GETS ‘AN OLD-FASHIONED WHOOPING’
The combination of the best team Georgia has played, and the worst the Bulldogs have played, added up to the program’s ugliest game in years.
Georgia suffered its worst margin of defeat in head coach Mark Fox’s seven years. It was the program’s worst margin of defeat, home or away, since a 34-point home loss to Illinois in 2008. And it was Texas A&M’s largest-ever margin of victory for a conference road game, going back to the Southwest Conference days.
“Texas A&M just gave us an old-fashioned whooping,” Fox said. “This is as bad as we’ve probably had a team in over a decade.”
It was a rout from the start, as it was evident Georgia (now 9-6 overall, 2-3 in the SEC) was overmatched by No. 15 Texas A&M (15-2, 5-0). Raining 3s and playing tight defense, the Aggies jumped out to an 11-3 lead, then grew it from there, leading by 17 in the final minute of the first half.
Then the Aggies kept pouring it on in the second half, continuing to drain 3s with their bench warmers, against Georgia’s freshman.
“We just got embarrassed,” Georgia junior guard J.J. Frazier. “I didn’t play well, we didn’t play well as a team, and Texas A&M just came in and embarrassed us at home.”
There was actually a pretty good home crowd, announced at 10,523, including Kirby Smart and Evander Holyfield. But they saw their team thoroughly embarrassed, albeit by a very good team.
“I knew after one of the timeouts, when we drew up something and came out and had two guys run something different, that mentally we were not in the right place,” Fox said. “I didn’t see that coming. I’ll be honest. … I don’t know why that happened. I felt like we practiced well (Friday), I felt like we had a good shoot-around this morning. We just didn’t have everybody attached, and we ran into a very good team and didn’t respond to adversity out of the gate very well.”
Georgia had never lost to Texas A&M since the Aggies joined the SEC. Last year Georgia won at College Station in one of the games that helped its NCAA bid. But this time it was clear that the Aggies just had too much talent, and the Bulldogs had no answers.
2. MATEN – AND NOBODY ELSE
In the decisive first half, sophomore forward Yante Maten (seven points) wasn’t great, but he was about all Georgia had, as nobody else registered more than three points. Maten finished with 11 points, the only Bulldog in double figures.
Junior guard J.J. Frazier couldn’t get anything, a game after scoring 28 points. He was held scoreless over the first 16-plus minutes, and wasn’t getting shots off either. He only had three shots in those first 16-plus minutes, missing all off them, including the lone 3-pointer.
“My effort wasn’t there for 40 minutes. I mean it really wasn’t there at all,” Frazier said. “That’s on me. It’s unlike me. So I really put this on myself.”
Senior guard Kenny Gaines had Georgia’s first points, on a 3, then didn’t score again in the first half. He was 1-for-6 from the field, all but one off those on a 3-point try.
It got so bad in the second half that Fox put in his four freshmen – only one of whom started – together for extended action in the second half.
“I told our freshman, if you can just crack in this thing a little bit, spend all that energy you got, see if you can cut into it a little bit, then we’ll see if these (starters) can come back and make a push,” Fox said. “And we just didn’t get it.”
3. LENGTH ON PERIMETER
From start to finish in the first half, Texas A&M couldn’t seem to miss from beyond the arc. The Aggies made five off their first nine 3-point shots, and it was from more than one source: Alex Caruso and Daniel House were each 2-for-2 in the first half. The team finished 11-for-22 on 3-pointers.
Two things spurred the 3-point outburst: Height and passing. Texas A&M has four starters 6-foot-5 or taller, creating height mismatches at three spots for Georgia. The Aggies exploited that by moving the ball around well and draining 3s, even when a defender was close.
4. OGBEIDE’S DEVELOPMENT
It’s still ongoing. Freshman Derek Ogbeide continues to be a rebounding machine (six more on Saturday, tying for the team high), but his offense is rusty (four points, just one field goal attempted.)
Ogbeide’s conditioning or comfort, or both, must still be an issue. He was again the first guy to leave the game, and when his replacement Houston Kessler picked up two quick fouls, freshman Mike Edwards came in. Ogbeide did end up playing a season-high 21 minutes, but hasn’t been seeing extended action yet.
“He’s just trying to get comfortable. He’s not comfortable in that role,” Fox said. “And until he gets comfortable he won’t be extremely productive.”
5. TIME TO BE CONCERNED
This may be Fox’s deepest and most talented teams in his seven years at Georgia. There’s an experienced backcourt and very promising young frontcourt.
But unless it puts together a long string of wins it is in severe danger of missing the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs do have a strong schedule strength (top 20 entering the day) and don’t have anything yet that qualifies as a bad loss. But they entered the day ranked No. 68 in the RPI and their best win was over Georgia Tech, which was barely in the top 50 of the RPI.
This marked the halfway point off the season for Georgia, which has plenty of season left, but now plenty of reason to be worried.
“There’s obviously changes in their play that need to be made. There’s obviously lessons to learn when you get your tail whooped like this,” Fox said. “But I’m not gonna panic because we got our brains beat in.”