Georgia had plenty of opportunities to put Auburn away in its recent overtime loss on the road. The thing that held the team back was a season-high 28 turnovers, including 18 in the second half and overtime alone.
Issues with giving away valuable possessions are not a new story for the Bulldogs this season. After its most recent loss, Georgia is now averaging 17 turnovers per game, ranking 224th in the nation in that category.
“Auburn presses and that had a lot to do with the turnovers we had,” head coach Joni Taylor said. “We just made some really bad decisions. Some of it was us trying to be a hero and some of it was just allowing their pressure to rush us.”
Florida, a team ranked near the bottom in the country at forcing turnovers, will come to Athens on Feb. 10. It will be a good opportunity for Georgia to evaluate how much of the problem is related to the teams they’re playing and how much of it is self-inflicted.
In the meantime, the Georgia players thinks they can take advantage of a seven day gap between games and tackle the issue.
“I know I had eight turnovers,” Gabby Connally said. “I’m a guard so that’s really not a great stat. When I get into practice that’s just one thing I want to be cognisant of to make sure I don’t make the same mistakes in the following games.”
Limiting turnovers has already been a focus in this season’s practices. The team takes certain statistics including turnovers from its practices and uses them to emphasize important areas of the game to players.
“We track turnovers in practice,” Jenna Staiti said. “We have consequences if we turn the ball over a lot, individually and as a team.”
One other possible solution when Georgia inevitably faces another team that relies heavily on pressure is making personnel changes.
Instead of running out the bigger lineup featuring Staiti and Caliya Robinson that has brought Georgia success at different points this season, Taylor opted to play more guards against Auburn.
Caitlin Hose played a career-high 36 minutes while Staiti saw only four, the fewest she’s played since the third game of the season. Hose displayed ball handling ability and poise that has her coach ready to send the freshman right back into a high-pressure situation without any hesitation.
“We always knew she was capable of handling the basketball,” Taylor said. “I’m glad we shuffled her around and she got at the top of the press and was able to handle it the way she did.”
No matter how the team ends up adjusting, limiting turnovers will be a key for all of Georgia’s remaining games. The team’s elite defense is capable of making up for some lost possessions, but an offense that ranks in the bottom half of the SEC in scoring cannot afford to keep giving away opportunities to put up points.