Georgia basketball: Hazardous defense proves to be downfall in Vandy loss

Jan 29, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Georgia Bulldogs guard Christian Wright (5) defends Vanderbilt Commodores guard Scotty Pippen Jr. (2) during the first half at Memorial Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 29, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Georgia Bulldogs guard Christian Wright (5) defends Vanderbilt Commodores guard Scotty Pippen Jr. (2) during the first half at Memorial Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

On Saturday evening, Georgia basketball returned to the losing column as the Dawgs fell 85-77 to Vanderbilt. Despite beating Alabama earlier in the week, the Commodores’ offenses proved to be too much for the Dawgs as no matter how much they scored, getting the critical stop never happened.

Even though Georgia put together one of its best offensive performances, the hazardous defense prevented them from doing anything but attempting to keep up with Vanderbilt.

Georgia had four players score double-digit points. The Dawgs shot 51.9% from the floor on the night and 81% from the foul line. However, when Vandy hits 52.2% from the arch compared to the Dawgs’ 23.5%, that is where the defense struggled.

The Commodores made 12-of-23 three-point shots while Georgia made 4-of-17.

Georgia basketball struggled to cover the perimeter and fell to Vandy for a second time this season.

Both teams scored 28 field goals and 17 free throws, but that perimeter defense is atrocious.

Georgia even dominated the Commodores in the paint, outscoring them 44 to 24, but when a team allows 12 three-pointers to fall, it’s understandable why they got beat by eight points. If the Dawgs just made three more three-pointers, it could have made a difference, maybe not, but possibly.

Of course, speculating like that isn’t going to improve the defense or their shot-making from beyond the arch, but at what point does head coach Tom Crean stop trying to force the three and drive it inside.

Georgia showed the world that when you force a team like Alabama to foul, the Dawgs can beat them. However, the Dawgs did a better job playing defense against the Tide than on Saturday. Maybe Vanderbilt is just that much better than Georgia this year, but losing to Vandy in anything but baseball tends to sting more than it feels okay.

Vanderbilt has Scotty Pippen Jr., who went 7-of-14 from the floor, and 2-of- 5 from the three-point line to score 23 points. When he can put up those numbers, it will be a long night.

When Jordan Wright goes 2-of-3 from the arch, and Myles Stute is 3-of-5 from back there — is Georgia basketball even trying to guard the three?

There is no excuse for having four players make at least two 3-pointers. Vanderbilt only made 11 field goals in the second half but made five from beyond the arc.

Georgia made one 3-pointer in the first half. Granted, Noah Baumann went 3-of-9 from the arch, but that isn’t really impressive. If he wants to shoot the three then he needs to keep working on it because right now, he is cold.

Both teams had four players score double-digits. Pippen Jr. had 23, Rodney Chatman tallied 12 points, Wright had 15, and Stute had 11. As for Georgia, Aaron Cook led the team with 18 points, going 7-of-12 in the game, 1-of-2 from the arch, and 3-of-5 from the foul line.

Behind Cook, Baumann and Kario Oquendo both finished with 15 points. Oquendo was a force for the Dawgs, going 4-of-5 overall and 7-of-7 from the foul line.

Oquendo was the difference-maker because Vandy had no answer for him when he was in the game. However, he got elbowed in the face early in the second half and didn’t return. It could have been a different game with him, but it’s not worth speculating.

Braelen Bridges rounded out the double-digit scorers and put up 14 points, shooting 7-of-8 from the floor.

Georgia couldn’t stop Vanderbilt all night. Even when they did get the stop, the Dawgs didn’t capitalize off it. They turned the ball over 13 times, and Vanderbilt scored 17 points off them.

The Dawgs just had no connection with each other, and it just was frustrating to watch Crean refuse to adjust his defense or change the offense to make Vanderbilt work harder.

Give those Commodores credit because they’ve got a solid basketball team. However, when two teams shoot as evenly across the board outside the three-point line, something went terribly wrong on the defense, and Georgia has got to be better than that.

The Dawgs lost by eight, and it was that close because Cook and Baumann kept it that way. However, it’s hard to make a comeback when Pippen Jr. makes nine of his 23 points down the stretch.

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Georgia cannot continue to play as they did against Vanderbilt, or that Alabama win will be the only SEC victory they will see. Crean has to figure out how to rally this group, or the next month will drag on.

The Dawgs are now 6-15 overall and 1-7 in conference play, with Arkansas heading to Athens on Feb. 2, where Georgia will look to get another victory over an SEC West opponent.