Georgia basketball: despite the record, the Dawgs are outperforming last season

ST LOUIS, MO - MARCH 08: Derek Ogbeide #34 of the Georgia Bulldogs (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - MARCH 08: Derek Ogbeide #34 of the Georgia Bulldogs (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Georgia basketball ended the 2018 calendar year with a 91-72 win over Massachusetts, avenging a 72-62 loss from last year.

Just looking at the team records, you’d think Georgia basketball was off to a rocky start in the Tom Crean era. The Bulldogs concluded non-conference play with a win over UMass to improve to 8-4. But at this point last year, Georgia was 10-2.

But look beneath that record, and you’ll see the 2018-19 Bulldogs are playing much better than the 2017-18 team. The biggest area of improvement thus far has been production of points. The team averages 79.16 points per game. They have scored at least 80 points in six games. At this time last year, Georgia only averaged 68.5 ppg, and they eclipsed 80 points just four times.

Coach Crean said Georgia was going to shoot the ball better with him as coach, and the team has proven him right so far. No one embodies that better than Tyree Crump. Last year, Crump averaged .349 from the floor and .331 from beyond the arc. He averaged 6.5 points in 14.8 minutes of play. This year, his median has climbed to .471 from the field and .431 on outside shots. Crump still isn’t on the starting lineup, but he’s on the court for 19.9 minutes per game, and is scoring 11.2 PPG.

Another Bulldogs who also has experienced a sharp increases in scoring is Rayshaun Hammonds. He’s increased his field goal percentage from .421 up to .541. Hammonds has more than doubled his PPG, jumping from 6.7 to 14.7.

Of Bulldogs averaging at least five shots per game, all of four of them are averaging at least .400 from the field with three (Hammonds, Crump and Derek Ogbeide) over .450. Last year’s team can’t say that. Six players averaged five attempts per game, only three averaged over .400.

Other areas of improvement

Georgia is doing a much better job of distributing the ball to scorers. William “Turtle” Jackson was the only player averaging multiple assists per game with 3.5. Five other Dawgs averaged between 1.2 and 1.5 APG.

So far this season, eight players have over 1.2 APG. The leaders on the team are Nicolas Claxton with 2.6 APG and TeShaun Hightower at two-flat. Besides Crump, Claxton shows best where the program is heading. Through the first 12 games, he’s at 1.4 steals per game. No one averaged more than .7 steals on last year’s squad.

Claxton also has 10.1 rebounds per game. The great Yante Maten led last year’s team with 8.6 boards per game. Hammonds and Ogbeide are both grabbing over six boards each game. Only Ogbeide carried that average through last year.

In just about every positive statistical category, there are more Bulldogs crowding the top of the averages than there were last season. The one that stands out most is free throws. Seven players with multiple trips to the free throw line are shooting above .700 at the stripe. Only four Bulldogs could say that by the end of last season. Georgia is doing a much better job at cashing in on free throws after 12 games.

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Of course, there is still a long season of conference play waiting on the Dawgs. These averages could all get blown up. But they could also all improve or they could stay the same. As of right now, the 2018-19 Bulldogs look like a much better and well-rounded team than last year’s.