Georgia basketball: 3 areas the Dawgs must be strong in vs. Alabama

Georgia Bulldogs Braelen Bridges goes up for a layup. (Photo by The Montgomery Advertiser)
Georgia Bulldogs Braelen Bridges goes up for a layup. (Photo by The Montgomery Advertiser) /

Georgia basketball is on an eight-game losing streak after falling to South Carolina on the road Saturday. Now the Dawgs welcome in Alabama for a home match on Tuesday evening.

The Dawgs are 5-14 overall and 0-6  in conference play as they are the only league school without an SEC victory.

There have been bright moments in games, but also big collapses as well. Against South Carolina, the Gamecocks went on a 24-0 run in the second half and outscored Georgia 47-24. It wasn’t pretty.

Georgia basketball needs to do these three things well against Alabama to get their first conference win.

The Dawgs will have to be on their A-game against the Tide if they want to send them back to T-town with a loss.

Georgia will need to do more than three things to get this win, but if they improve in these areas, it could be possible. The Dawgs will have to hunker down on defense because the Tide averages 81.4 points a game compared to Georgia’s 69.9.

That six-minute drought against the Gamecocks cannot happen if the Dawgs want to stay competitive with Alabama. Instead of shooting the three-point shot so much, why aren’t they driving the ball in and trying to draw the foul?

The Dawgs only make 6.5 threes a game and shoot 31.7% from the arch, so it doesn’t seem like they need to keep trying to force those shots. These players need to drive it into the paint and be aggressive.

When Georgia did that against South Carolina in the first half, the Dawgs went 21-22 at the free throw line. The team shoots 74% as a whole from the line, so use that to your advantage. Plus, when other teams get in foul trouble, it puts their stars on the bench.

They lead the SEC in free throw percentage, so push your opponent to the line. Shooting from behind the arc isn’t going to draw fouls. It will only make rebounding more challenging and give your opponent a chance at fast break points.

Jaxon Etter does a great job drawing fouls as he has drawn 19 on the season and 27 in the Dawgs last 30 games. Christian Wright is lethal from the free throw line as he has made 55.8% of his points from there in his three double-digit scoring games.

Georgia also needs to quit turning over the ball and get better at protecting it. That stat comes down to not paying attention and the opponent taking advantage of that. On average, the Dawgs have 14.4 turnovers a game, which is far too many. While Alabama averages 13.4 a game, whoever turns it over fewer times will win this matchup.

Turnovers also take any momentum a team may have because it’s allowing their opponent to score off your mistake. Georgia needs to focus on ball protection and creating better offensive possessions.

The last thing the Dawgs need to improve drastically is better defensive play and rebounding. While it isn’t terrible, averaging 34.6 boards a game isn’t bad, opponents average the same, so the Dawgs aren’t winning that battle either.

Alabama averages 40 boards a game, so the Dawgs must get in the paint and fight for those crucial defensive rebounds because when you give teams extra chances to score, eventually they will.

Braelen Bridges was a bright spot against South Carolina, scoring 20 points as he connected on 8-of-11 shots. Noah Baumann tallied 14 and Wright added 10. Three Dawgs scored in double digits, and they still managed to get beat by 17 points.

Georgia’s defense was atrocious in the second half, and if they want to win another ball game, they need to fix it. Alabama will try and hurt Georgia from the perimeter as they are No.1 in the SEC, averaging 9.2 3-pointers a game. To put it into perspective, one-third of their shots are coming from the arc, so Georgia needs to find some self-confidence and be aggressive.

Don’t draw any silly fouls, but be smart and don’t let them get much space because they can hurt you from the arch.

Bridges needs to step up and be the leader. He is a redshirt senior who transferred into the program, and it’s time he takes the reins and helps the rest of his teammates. It’s great to put up double-digit points, but leading is another thing.

The Dawgs don’t have one with Jailyn Ingram and P.J. Horne off the court, so one of these starting five guys needs to do it. Georgia should have beaten Vanderbilt and South Carolina, but instead, mid-game collapses prevented that.

It will take a lot more than these three things to get Georgia another win, but if they can just come together, that is half the battle. This team doesn’t have to let their struggles define them.

Next. Georgia football: When one leaves, Kirby Smart brings better. dark

They need to play for each other and tune out the outside noise. That chatter isn’t going away because fans don’t like head coach Tom Crean, so play the rest of these games for yourself and don’t let the proud University of Georgia finish dead last in the SEC.