The 2020 Georgia basketball season has finally started. After Wednesday's game against Columbus State was cancelled, Sunday's meeting with Florida A&M became the season opener.
The Bulldogs looked sloppy against the Rattlers, which was to be expected from a team full of newcomers playing together for the first time ever. However, thanks to a litany of second half improvements, Georgia defeated Florida A&M 85-75. Here's the good, bad and the ugly from Georgia's performance.
Andrew Garcia's debut
One of Georgia's eight newcomers put the SEC on notice Sunday. Andrew Garcia, a graduate transfer from Stony Brook, shot 6-of-8 from the field and 10-of-11 at the charity stripe to score a team high 22 points. Garcia, a forward, added four rebounds, a pair of steals and a blocked shot.
Because of all the turnover on Georgia's roster, expectations are low. They're even a popular pick to finish 13th in the SEC. If performances like Sunday's become a nightly occurrence for Garcia, the Bulldogs should exceed expectations this year.
Double-doubles for Sahvir Wheeler and Tye Fagan
Without any returning seniors, there are very few veterans on Georgia's roster. Two of the players who could be called veterans had big games to lead Georgia to victory.
Point guard Sahvir Wheeler, who set the single-season school record for assists by a freshman last season, recorded 12 assists Sunday. Wheeler added 12 points, mostly via layups, four rebounds and three steals. Most of Wheeler's assists went to guard Tye Fagan. The junior was second on the team with 21 points and he led the team with 10 rebounds. Four of Fagan's boards came on offense.
14 offensive rebounds
Georgia struggled with turnovers Sunday, but it made up for those mistakes by dominating the boards on offense. The Bulldogs pulled down 14 boards on offense compared to Florida A&M's eight. Twice, Georgia followed an offensive rebound with another one. However...
Failing to score second-chance points
Despite grabbing 14 offensive boards, the Bulldogs only scored 10 second-chance points. The issue was indicative of Georgia's shooting woes that were an issue all game (more on that later). To win in the SEC, you have to make the most of second-chances. Only converting five second chances isn't going to cut it.
Turnovers were a big issue down the stretch last season, and they were a big issue Sunday. Georgia led 13-2 five minutes into the game, but four giveaways in the following eight minutes helped Florida A&M take a 22-21 lead with just under seven minutes left in the first half. Missed shots and offensive fouls compounded Georgia's giveaway issues.
Even as Georgia improved on offense in the second half, it still turned the ball over seven times. Overall, Florida A&M made Georgia pay for its turnovers with 18 points.
Missing open shots
Tom Crean coached teams are known for sharpshooting, but Georgia was anything but Sunday. The Bulldogs shot 48.4-percent from the field and 22.7-percent from behind the arc.
Toumani Camara and Christian Brown's shots were mediocre. Camara was just 2-of-6 from the field and Brown was even worse at 2-of-8. All four of Camara's misses were on three-pointers and Wheeler also went 0-of-4 from three-point-range.
Georgia's shooting did get better as the game went on. The Bulldogs made just 38.7-percent of their field goals and shot an abysmal 15.4-percent beyond the arc in the first half.
In the second half, Georgia showed it has potential to score with the best of them. The Bulldogs converted 18-of-31 shots (58.06-percent) with three shots coming from three-point-range. Consistency across 40 minutes is the key right now. With such a fresh-faced team, it might take a while for Georgia to build consistency.