So that makes four games must wins, right? Tonight's game is one of those, as it will give the Dawgs a chance to get to 10 SEC wins without having to beat Tennessee and/or Florida on the road. Win 10 SEC regular season games, the Dawgs go, no matter what. Vanderbilt is a tough, tough basketball team. They come in leading the conference (18th in the nation) in scoring at 78.2 ppg. As you might imagine, they lead the conference in 3pt shooting, making just a shade over 8/game. Surprisingly, they also lead the conference in 3pt defense, holding teams to just a shade under 29% of all 3pt shots taken. Some of that has to be playing half their games in an opera house, but some is the fact that Vandy plays strong and scrappy defense.
One other thing, Vandy has attempted nearly 70 more free throws than any other team in the conference. 70! Conventional wisdom dictates Kentucky leading the conference, but the 'Cats are in fifth place. They make 75% of those shots. That is a lot of free points, points that make up for Vandy's mediocre rebounding.
So, how does Georgia win this game? Smart defense and second chance points. Rebounding is the big equalizer here. The Dawgs are second in the conference in rebounding margin. It seems there have been several games that have come down to key rebounds this season, but overall the Dawgs have been strong on both ends of the floor. Vandy is in the middle of the pack in both offensive and defensive rebounding.
The Dawgs cannot afford to get into a 3pt shooting contest with them. It is paramount that Vandy, who is shooting nearly 40% (compared to Georgia's 34%) only get one look per trip. It is also paramount that Georgia run Coach Fox's offense, which is predicated on ball movement and taking high percentage shots, shots that also allow your guys a good chance to rebound the ball. Hey, if they come out and shoot 50%+ from the 3pt line, you have to keep them from doing so with any regularity to win. They can't shoot the ball if you have it.
If we get a couple of highlight reel dunks early? That is pretty solid evidence that Georgia is doing the right things offensively. A couple of key blocks and Trey/Leslie/Price all stay under two fouls and get 14+ minutes in the first half, I like our chances. Any halftime score that has Vandy under 30 points is another good sign. Expect the Commodores to show up to play, as Kevin Stallings coached teams always do. Get Trey the ball low, have a plan
Sounds simple, right?