Previewing Georgia: Seton Hall trying to down another SEC team

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Seton Hall didn’t ultimately take the route they would have desired at the Charleston Classic, but a strong showing against Ole Miss in their finale will look to be built upon when the Pirates take on Georgia on Saturday night in Newark.

Scouting Georgia:

Remember when I hyped up Georgia in my preseason preview of the Dawgs? Well, they haven’t quite lived up to my billing so far.

Coming off an NCAA bid last year and picked fifth in the SEC’s preseason media poll, Mark Fox’ team lost in overtime to Chattanooga in their opener, beat Murray State by 11 in their second game and then narrowly escaped High Point 49-46 on Wednesday — not exactly a quick start for the second SEC team on Seton Hall’s slate.

Not much has surprised me about Georgia’s rotation over their first few games, Fox is rolling with a seven-man rotation that is using junior Kenny Paul Geno (3.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg) and freshman E’Torrion Wilridge (3.3 ppg, 4 rpg) on the wing for decent stretches as opposed to a smaller guard-oriented lineup that I predicted a few weeks ago. A possible reason for this is the lack of guard Juwan Parker, who still hasn’t returned from surgery to an injured achilles tendon and looks like he will be out for a while.

Of the forwards behind center Yante Maten (10.7 ppg, 9 rpg) in the rotation, redshirt junior Houston Kessler (1.7 ppg, 4 rpg) has seen the most time thus far with freshman Derek Ogbeide sidelined due to a shoulder injury. One of the best sixth-men in the country and a true point guard, JJ Frazier (13.3 ppg, 4 rpg, 4 apg) is still coming off the bench for Georgia but plays a significant role while senior guards Charles Mann (10.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.7 apg) and Kenny Gaines (19.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg) start alongside Maten, a sophomore.

Georgia’s 20th-best defensive efficiency rating is probably inflated from their game against High Point, but Seton Hall fans know there is some validity to the rating after the Pirates were held to 47 points in Athens last December; the Bulldogs finished 23rd in defensive efficiency last year.

Kenny Gaines (13-of-26) is by far Georgia’s biggest threat from three — he was 7-of-14 in a 35-point effort against Murray State — while JJ Frazier (6-of-19) is also a guy to closely guard along the arc. The Bulldogs’ 3rd-best free throw attempt to field goal attempt ratio (FTA/FGA) when combined with their top-ranked percentage of total points coming from the line indicates a strong tendency to make their living at the charity stripe; 6-5 Charles Mann has the fourth-best free throw rate in the nation and will be a tough ask to contain.

Along with their short rotation, Georgia is also looking for a fifth scorer. Gaines, Frazier, Maten and Mann are all averaging north of 10 ppg, but no other Dawg has surpassed 3.3 ppg.

Three things to watch:

A continuation from Charleston. Factoring in the talent of opposition, Seton Hall put together their best 20 minutes of the young season in the second half against Ole Miss. Can they build on it?

Kevin Willard has stressed how his team hasn’t been able to take advantage of their opportunities to build runs, but their 12-3 push that flipped a 46-45 lead into a 58-48 game was instrumental against Ole Miss and needs to be replicated at least once on Saturday. A second straight win against SEC opposition will mark the Hall’s first three-game winning streak since they beat Maine, Villanova and St. John’s to become ranked at the beginning of 2015.

Much more from Angel Delgado. Don’t get me wrong, Angel has been solid and could have better stats than 8 ppg and 8.8 rpg if not for some foul trouble, but he could be doing a lot better. Whether the excuse has been playing against smaller teams or something else, Angel needs to combine more with Isaiah Whitehead on his drives and through post-to-post passing from Ismael Sanogo and Desi Rodriguez; Ish has already displayed an above average passing ability, he just needs to find Angel.

A better gameplan than last year. Granted Isaiah Whitehead was playing injured and Kevin Willard opted to stay another night in Florida after the USF game instead of flying to Georgia (the team saw the Orlando Magic game), the Pirates looked thoroughly outmatched in Athens last season. Willard’s team fell behind 27-11 which effectively put the game out of reach (since the Hall was playing so poorly) with eight minutes to play… in the first half.

Georgia is not as stout in the post as they were a season ago when Brandon Mobley and Angel Delgado were held to a combined 10 points and 8 boards, so I expect a bit more of an edge for the Hall in this department. Desi and Ish aren’t back-to-the-basket guys, but they aren’t afraid to mess around in the paint and have helped shoulder Delgado’s burden considerably five games into the season.

KenPom says: No. 81 Seton Hall 69, No. 56 Georgia 67 (61%)

Projected Georgia starters:

G – Charles Mann
G – Kenny Gaines
G/F – Kenny Paul Geno
F – Houston Kessler
C – Yante Maten

Projected Seton Hall starters:

PG – Isaiah Whitehead
G – Khadeen Carrington
F – Desi Rodriguez
F – Ismael Sanogo
F – Angel Delgado

Time: 7:30 et
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: AM 970
Opening line: Seton Hall -3

  • Fishjam

    With Wichita St & @GW looming as tough games before conference play, this is an important game if they want to have shot at an at-large bid. I think playing 3 games in 4 days last week was good for them and they were playing their best ball of the year in 2nd half vs Ole Miss. With a long layoff and T’Giving break, I really hope they don’t come out flat tomorrow. Maybe the week break will help IW, Veer and anyone else dealing with injuries. They should be pumped to avenge last year’s ass-kicking.

  • Injury updates on Georgia. Parker is out and Derek Ogbeide is doubtful:

  • John Fahey

    Hope Del Gado has been working on his free throws! Love how Sanogo and Nzei have appeared to help clear the boards, and help us elbow around under our hoop. Ish, Nzei, and of course Desi Rodriguez are the most improved players so far, and could really help out when we face TALLER TREES!

    • Fishjam

      It’s obvious to see that Ish and Nzei have made big contributions defensively and on the boards (11.6 rebounds & 3 blocks per game) but the biggest suprise is what they have done offensively. Despite not really having much shooting range or any plays called for them they have combined to average 12.0 points per game, nearly all on high percentage put backs and layups/dunks.
      They run the floor well and provide an outlet for IWs passes with an ability to finish down low. Combined they are shooting nearly 70% from the field (24 for 35) and are respectable from the line. Last year IW only had Angel down low to finish, now he has 2 more options both with better hands and quicker releases. Also teams are quick to foul Angel when he gets the ball in good position since he cannot hit his free throws. Mike & Ish seem like much better free throw shooters.

  • PadrePirate

    Too early in the season to speak of a “must win”, but this is a big game. We will need to notch a top 60 win at the Rock (Georgia or Wichita) and another on the road (GW) during the non-conf stretch to be considered for a bid and hit the BE schedule with momentum and confidence. I hope KW can get these boys mentally ready.

    The support guys (Ish, Desi, Deno, Nzei, et al) have been pulling their weight. If Angel and IW step up with big games, we can take this team, which doesn’t seem to be playing their strongest ball and is carrying some injuries.

    No turkey jet lag! Go Pirates!

    • VinBick

      Hey, P.P., please present possibility of KW’s ability to “get these boys mentally ready.” These young men should not need anyone to motivate them at this level. They should be coming out with fire in their eyes to beat a team that humiliated them a year ago. A rested, balanced, talented home team should be in control from start to finish. We cannot count on KW for much help on the court tonight.

      • PadrePirate

        Fair enough.

        Apparently, according to Chris, KW did manage to fire the guys up at half-time.

        I also saw KW sit IW (a rare move, granted) and give him a little talking to after one of his mental-lapse plays tonight, as well.

  • Andrew Herbst

    I think tomorrow’s a very important game. Need to win to boost up our RPI. These non conference games help our resume along with GW and Wichica St.

  • 11yearplan

    Off topic. Congrats to the women’s team!!! 7-0. No let down after beating RU and a nationally ranked Princeton team in the same week. Talent, great team b-ball and a killer instinct. Haven’t watched them yet but fun to listen to on 89.5.

  • Fishjam

    Also off topic, Providence vs Michigan State tomorrow will be a fun game to watch. Kris Dunn and Denzel Valentine could be the 2 best college players this year.. Valentine is a trible-Double Machine AVERAGING 18 points, 9.4 rebs & 9.6 assists per game and Dunn may be the nation’s best playmaker and a sure lottery pick.