ATHENS, Ga. -- When a team converts only three of its 23 attemps at 3-pointers, most observers would say that team lost because of an inability to convert shots from beyond the arc.
That observation would have been correct in Georgia’s 61-52 loss to Vanderbilt on Sunday -- not only was Georgia 3-for-23, the Commodores went 10-for-22. But the Bulldogs’ issue is more complicated than simply missing too many outside shots.
Because of their inconsistency in the post, the Bulldogs are almost forced to rely heavily on perimeter scoring from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Dustin Ware, and when they go 1-for-16 from 3-point range like they did against Vanderbilt, Georgia’s offense struggles even more than usual.
Caldwell-Pope and Ware likely would not have hoisted that many 3-pointers, however, if the Bulldogs were playing competently around the basket. But time and time again, they gave away easy points in the paint by missing shots from inside five feet.
“That’s definitely something that’s killing us from top to bottom, me included,” said Georgia guard Gerald Robinson, whose team visits LSU on Wednesday for an 8 p.m. ET tipoff. “We missed a lot of easy shots around the basket. I definitely would like to get a lot of those down just to give us [a lift]. I’m pretty sure our shooting percentage would go up and we’d probably get to the foul line more. There’s a lot of different things that could come from that, so we definitely need to correct that.”
Georgia missed four of its eight shots from inside roughly five feet in the first half against Vandy and built a 29-28 halftime lead that could have been much larger. The Bulldogs fared only slightly better in the second half, hitting 6 of their 11 shots around the basket.
Shooting 50 percent from point-blank range is not a typical recipe for victory, particularly when the opponent is capable of getting hot from outside like Vandy did in the second half. The Commodores shot 67 percent from 3-point range and 58 percent overall after a sluggish first half, pulling away after Georgia led for most of the game’s first 28 minutes.
What the Bulldogs find particularly frustrating is that they like many more of the shots they are taking now than those from earlier in the season, when they were breaking in a completely new frontcourt. For the most part, however, the results have been disappointing throughout.
“The ball just hasn’t gone in,” Ware said. “We’ve been getting shots we wanted and our execution has definitely improved a lot, especially from the beginning of the season. It’s just one of those frustrating things, but we’ve just got to keep battling.”
Georgia coach Mark Fox said after the Vanderbilt game that even if the Bulldogs are getting shots relatively near the basket, he believes they can improve their shooting percentage by taking smarter close shots.
That, Fox said, will greatly improve their completion rate around the basket.
“That’s a tough one to improve in a short time,” Fox said, “but shot selection can hopefully impact that.”