How Georgia basketball can upset Virginia and get back on track

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 13: Head coach Tom Crean of the Georgia Bulldogs is seen with Aaron Cook #10 of the Georgia Bulldogs during the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Fifth Third Arena on November 13, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 13: Head coach Tom Crean of the Georgia Bulldogs is seen with Aaron Cook #10 of the Georgia Bulldogs during the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Fifth Third Arena on November 13, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Georgia basketball fell short against Georgia Tech last week, and now they look to take on Virginia in the Roman Legends Classic tonight.

The Dawgs fell 88-78 to the Yellow Jackets, and that one stung — yes, pun intended.

Georgia and Virginia haven’t met to play each other since 1987 on Christmas Eve, where the Cavaliers won 87-54. However, the Dawgs hold a 4-3 lead in the all-time series.

Neither team has had the best starts as they each sit 2-2 on the year.

Even if Virginia has had a sluggish start, they will challenge the Dawgs, and Georgia has to be ready.

While there is hope for the Dawgs to beat the Cavs, the oddsmakers at WynnBET have Virginia as eight-point favorites over the Dawgs with the over/under at 122.5 points.

These odds seem pretty fair for how both teams have looked in the first four games of the year, so it could be a good bet to take. However, Georgia could finally put some things together and get a big win over Virginia.

Georgia basketball can upset Virginia, and here is how they do it.

The Dawgs have a lot of growing to do as a team. They are four games in, and while there have been spurts of positive basketball, many of them haven’t played enough together to have that connection yet.

This game will provide them another opportunity to get better at playing as a unit.

The Dawgs have an ace in the hole as Jabri Abdur-Rahim played at Virginia as a freshman before transferring to Georgia. He knows a little bit about this team, and he can be a guy head coach Tom Crean can look to for schemes. Abdur-Rahim is also from the New Jersey area where they’re playing, so it’s homecoming on two different fronts for him.

Abdur-Rahim earned his best finish last week as he scored 10 points against Georgia Tech. He could see some more minutes against the Cavaliers, though. Leading the way for Georgia right now is Aaron Cook, who averages 15 points a game. Braelen Bridges averages 14.3 points and Jailyn Ingram is at 10.3 a game right now.

Three guys are averaging double-digit points, yet the Dawgs are 2-2 on the season.

Virginia has two in Jayden Gardner, who leads the team with 13.5 points a game, and Armaan Franklin, who averages 11.5 points.

Georgia will have their work cut out because Virginia teams are notoriously disciplined with Tony Bennett at the helm.

So the Dawgs have to buckle down if they want to win this thing. Georgia can beat the Cavaliers. They have to do a few things, though, to make that happen.

The first thing is keeping Cook and Bridges hot. Georgia averages 70 points a game while Virginia averages 61.5. If the Dawgs can keep those two guys scoring, that will be key to victory.

However, Virginia’s defense is tough. They allow 59.3 points through the first four games while Georgia averages 68. So Crean needs to make sure he is creating enough commotion moving the ball around to give Cook and company scoring room.

The Dawgs average 6.3 three-pointers a game, and while they only make 36.8% of them, they need to find a way to make a few more against Virginia because they allow 39% from their opponents.

Another thing Georgia needs to do against Virginia is play disciplined defense and be a rebounding machine.

Opponents average more than the Dawgs right now, and that is never a good stat to have. Crean needs his guys to get rebounds for second-chance points and avoid giving up multiple shots to opponents.

Put your big guys down there like Ingram and Bridges and make them get aggressive. These two guys right here need to pull up their bootstraps and get to work. Standing at 6-11 and 6-7, these two are big enough to get those boards.

Once Georgia gets their defense clicking together, the wins will start to occur.

Lastly, whoever turns the ball over less in this game will be the one to come out on top. Both Virginia and Georgia average 13 turnovers a game, so it’ll be about ball protection because the Cavaliers average 8.3 steals a game and will be looking to keep that average tonight.

The Dawgs have a team full of misfits right now, and it’s not a negative thing to call them misfits, just the way to describe a team full of transfers and youngsters trying to form a bond and play as one.

Crean has had his fair share of ups and downs as Georgia’s head coach, but if he can get a group to buy into what he is trying to accomplish, then he can find success. This group being misfits, have nothing to lose because everyone already predicted they would finish last in the SEC, so go out there and show them otherwise.

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Misfits or not, this group has talent, and they can get the job done. Right now, it’s about bonding and coming together. If they do that and buy into Crean’s culture, they won’t finish dead last.

This program is a work in progress, and Georgia needs to give Crean some time. However, the seat will become less warm if they can beat the Cavaliers tonight.

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