Jan. 21, 2014
About the Game
- Georgia begins its regular-season series against South Carolina with a Wednesday night contest in Athens. The Bulldogs and Gamecocks are "permanent rivals," as designated in the spring of 2012 by the SEC in its new scheduling process.
- The Bulldogs arrive at this game with an 9-7 overall record, 3-1 in SEC games. Most recently, they defeated Arkansas 66-61 in overtime last Saturday in Athens. It was Georgia's second overtime victory of the season and second already in the young conference schedule. The Bulldogs trailed by as many as seven points in the second half and did not catch the Razorbacks until the final 3:00 of regulation.
- Sophomore guard Kenny Gaines led Georgia in scoring against Arkansas with 15 points. Perhaps the greater hero, however, was redshirt junior Marcus Thornton, who contributed 11 points and 13 rebounds in 37 minutes of action. The latter two numbers were both career bests. Thornton's double-double was not only his first as a collegian, but it was also the Bulldogs' first of the season. Thornton's career-best work led an impressive, team-wide performance by Georgia on the boards. The Bulldogs had a season-high 56 total rebounds that included a +22 margin that was the highest differential since their 2012 win over Arkansas. Georgia is now second in the SEC -- through four conference games -- in rebounding margin at +10.0.
- Wednesday's match-up will be the 101st between the two schools. Georgia holds a narrow 52-48 edge in the series, thanks mostly to the Bulldogs having won six of its last seven bouts with South Carolina.
- Georgia is wrapping up what has turned out to be the most challenging portion of its 2014 schedule. The Bulldogs have played six RPI Top 100 opponents in their past seven games. The difficulty of its recent schedule, combined with wins over three of those Top 100 teams, caused Georgia's own RPI rating to jump nearly 200 spots in the past month.
|F||2||Marcus Thornton**||6-8||235||RJr.||Atlanta, Ga.||7.3||5.6|
|F||15||Donte' Williams***||6-9||225||Sr.||Ellenwood, Ga.||5.7||5.3|
|F||31||Brandon Morris||6-7||215||So.||Lithonia, Ga.||8.7||3.7|
|G||4||Charles Mann*||6-5||210||So.||Alpharetta, Ga.||13.3||2.9a|
|G||12||Kenny Gaines*||6-3||195||So.||Atlanta, Ga.||11.9||2.4|
#Assists Per Game
|SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS|
|F||21||Demetrius Henry||6-9||215||Fr.||Miami, Fla.||5.9||4.2|
|F||25||Mindaugas Kacinas||6-7||210||So.||Klaipeda, Lithuania||5.6||5.1|
|G||0||Sindarius Thornwell||6-5||206||Fr.||Lancaster, S.C.||12.0||3.9|
|G||1||Brenton Williams||5-11||172||Sr.||Kissimmee, Fla.||11.1||1.9|
|G||10||Duane Notice||6-2||221||Fr.||Woodbridge, Ontario||6.5||2.4|
Head Coach: Frank Martin
Record at South Carolina / Years: 21-28 / 2nd season
Overall Record / Years: 138-82 / 7th season
Assistant Coaches: Matt Figger (Assoc. HC), Perry Clark, Lamont Evans
Georgia vs. South Carolina
Saturday's game is the 101st all-time meeting between Georgia and South Carolina in basketball. Georgia holds a 52-48 lead in the series.
Georgia is 6-2 versus South Carolina under head coach Mark Fox.
In the 21 years of divisional play (1992-2011), Georgia and South Carolina split their regular-season games evenly at 21 apiece. That includes regular-season sweeps by Georgia (1994, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2011) and by Carolina (1998, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2009).
Just once have these two teams met in the post-season SEC Tournament. That occurred in the 1997 tourney in Memphis, where Georgia won a semifinal matchup, 78-63.
Before 1992, these two schools were annual opponents -- mostly once a year, other times twice and occasionally thrice -- from 1938 until 1964.
Georgia has won six of its last seven match-ups with the Gamecocks dating back to 2/7/09.
A geographical breakdown of the series follows:
Games in Athens: UGA leads 31-15
Games in Columbia: USC leads 30-17
Neutral Court Games: UGA leads 4-3
- These most recent games have seen Georgia's rotation come into much sharper focus. The Bulldogs did not have a single player averaging 30 minutes through the pre-conference slate. Charles Mann has now crossed that threshold. He and backcourt mate Kenny Gaines are currently averaging over 34 minutes in SEC play. Additionally, fellow starters Marcus Thornton and Brandon Morris both recorded career highs in minutes played last Saturday against Arkansas.
- Charles Mann's knack for frequent trips to the free-throw line is no secret. As a freshman last season, he had the fifth most free-throw attempts of any SEC player (170). In the Alabama game Jan. 11, when he went 13 of 18 from the line, his 18 tries were the most by a Georgia player in 10 years and the fourth most in UGA history.
- Much has been made of the new enforcement of existing rules, as well as new rules, this season. Thus far, as all participants adjust to these changes, the volume of called fouls rose in the beginning but has leveled off recently. There has been an average of 40 fouls called in each of Georgia's games thus far this season, compared to 36 fouls per game last season.
- As the SEC schedule began, the Bulldogs ranked among the top 50 nationally in field-goal percentage, with seven games of at least 50 percent shooting. However, they began this week ranking 143rd in the NCAA. Georgia has recorded its three lowest FG percentages of the season in its past three games.
- Perhaps no statistic has had a greater effect on Georgia's fate this season than in rebounding. Simply stated, when the Bulldogs have outrebounded their opponent, they've won. When they haven't, they've lost. In Georgia's nine wins, the Bulldogs have compiled a +12.1 rebounding margin, most recently a +22 margin vs. Arkansas. Their rebounding margin in seven losses is -4.1.
- Additional findings in the wins vs. losses: > Kenny Gaines is Georgia's leading scorer in its nine wins (12.2 ppg). Charles Mann, UGA's leading scorer overall, leads Georgia in its seven losses (15.2 ppg) but has only the No. 2 average in its nine wins (11.5 ppg) > Oddly, Georgia has higher field-goal and free-throw percentages in its seven losses (45.2 and 66.3) than it does in its nine wins (44.7 and 65.4). The greatest differences, however, lie in its opponents' percentages. In nine UGA wins, opponents are shooting 36 and 66 percent, respectively. The seven teams that have defeated UGA have combined to shoot 45 and 79 percent, respectively.
- Georgia began this season amidst low expectations...externally, anyway. The Bulldogs were picked by the media that cover SEC basketball to finish 11th in the 14-team league, ahead of only South Carolina, Mississippi State and Auburn. Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee were picked 1-2-3 in the same poll. Additionally, no Bulldogs were selected to the 16-player pre-season All-SEC lists.
- Four Bulldogs this season have made their first starts at the Division 1 collegiate level: Kenny Gaines, Cameron Forte, Juwan Parker and Taylor Echols.
- One effect of not having Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on this year's team: last year, 30 percent of Georgia's total field goals were scored from 3-point range. This year, just 17 percent thus far have come from beyond the arc. Perhaps another way to view this difference: last season's Georgia team averaged scoring 22 points in the paint area. This season, that number thus far has risen to 34.4 points in the paint. Most discussion involving KCP's absence has revolved around its effect on the Georgia offense. Little discussion has pertained to its effect on the Georgia defense, which this year has allowed its opponents a .400 overall field-goal percentage, .342 from 3-point range, compared to .388 and .329, respectively, with KCP in the lineup last season.
- On Dec. 28, when Colorado sank all 26 of its free-throw attempts, it marked the first time in almost 19 years a Bulldog opponent had shot 100 percent. Tennessee went 10x10 against Georgia on Feb. 11, 1995. That was 584 games ago. For Georgia, it's been 767 games since its last 100 percent shooting night...back to Jan. 14, 1989 vs. Vanderbilt (12x12).
- Georgia has now shot at least 50 percent from the field seven times this season. One more such outing and the Bulldogs will equal the number of 50 percent shooting games over the previous two seasons combined.
Offense on the Uptick
One thing is apparent through the early going this season: Georgia's offense appears to be measurably more effective than last season, even without its best scorer from 2013. In 12 of 16 games thus far, the Bulldogs have scored well over their seasonal average (60.8) of last season. The team's overall shooting percentage has also risen from 40.8 of last season to its current mark of 44.9.
Already, Georgia has shot over 50 percent from the field in seven games, more than twice as often as in all of 2012-13. The Bulldogs began this week ranking 39th nationally in FG percentage.
About the Schedule
Conference expansion manifests itself in many strange ways, not the least of which occurs in scheduling. Georgia fans noticed this oddity most recently as their football team has traveled to Auburn in consecutive seasons.
This season their basketball team will experience one of the oddest quirks to its schedule in years. Kentucky will not travel to Athens for a game this season for the first time since the 1962-63 season. Same for Tennessee. For Florida, which also won't play a game in Athens this season, the last time it didn't play in Athens was in 1961-62. The Gators are the most frequent opponent in UGA hoops history.
It took a World War to keep all three schools out of Athens together in the same season the last time. Not since the 1943-44 season -- when Georgia dotted its schedule with random groups like Lawson General Hospital and Robins Airfield -- has this phenomenon occurred.
Georgia and the SEC
Following are a few tidbits about Georgia's history in the SEC:
Georgia's all-time record in SEC games, covering 80 years, is 501-733 (.406). That ranks 10th of 12 SEC members (excluding Missouri and Texas A&M).
Georgia can claim one SEC regular-season championship (1990), one regular-season divisional title (2002) and two SEC Tournament crowns (1983, 2008).
Georgia has had just two AP SEC Player of the Year: Dominique Wilkins in 1981 and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope last season. Other superlative post-season awards include Coaches' SEC Defensive Player of the Year (Rashad Wright in 2004), AP SEC Newcomer of the Year (Jarvis Hayes in 2002), and Scholar-Athlete of the Year (Dave Bliss in 2008).
Wilkins was the first of four Georgia players to lead the SEC in scoring at season's end. He averaged a league-best 23.6 points per game in 1981. Others to follow him have been Vern Fleming (19.8 ppg in 1984), Jumaine Jones (18.8 ppg in 1999) and Jarvis Hayes (18.6 ppg in 2002).
Georgia has an all-time SEC Tournament record of 40-51. The 2008 tourney marked the first time since 1997 that Georgia has reached the finals.
Staff Changes for 2014
For the first time of his 4+ seasons in Athens, head coach Mark Fox made changes to his immediate coaching staff. Three-year UGA letterman (2002-04) Jonas Hayes was promoted from Operations Coordinator to Assistant Coach. A native Atlantan, Hayes returned to UGA in 2012 after serving as an Assistant Coach at Belmont Abbey in North Carolina for five seasons. He had also assisted the programs at South Carolina State, Morehouse and his alma mater, Douglass High School, after graduating from UGA in 2004.
Hayes, whose twin brother Jarvis continues to play professionally overseas, became the first Georgia basketball alumnus to hold a full-time assistant's position on the staff at his alma mater since Mark Slonaker assisted Hugh Durham from 1989-95.
To replace Hayes in the Coordinator's position, Fox hired Byron Samuels in May of 2013. The Winston-Salem, N.C., native, is a veteran of the collegiate ranks whose career includes head coaching stops at Hampton, Radford and, most lastly, at Hillsborough Community College, where he coached recent UGA alum John Florveus. Samuels is a veteran of SEC basketball, having assisted four Tennessee teams that earned NCAA Tournament berths.
Fox Best at Molding Talent
Blogger and hoops junkie Dan Hanner of RealGM.com penned an article in February of 2012 that anointed Georgia head coach Mark Fox as the top coach in college basketball at player development. Hanner used a complex formula to rate college coaches. Among Hanner's many observations he writes, "Mark Fox has truly been fantastic at getting the most out of his players."
The top five in the Player Development category include Fox; Bo Ryan (Wisconsin); Craig Robinson (Oregon State); Lorenzo Romar (Washington); and Mike Montgomery (Cal).
Perhaps the most tangible proof of Fox's talent development is the number of NBA draftees and current pros that have played for him. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope became the 11th player under his tutelage to get drafted by an NBA club. He was the fourth 1st-rounder.
Fox Also Tops at Producing Grads
Head Coach Mark Fox must also receive some degree of credit for developing high-performing students in the classroom. Since his arrival in April of 2009, no fewer than 14 Georgia basketball players have earned their undergraduate degrees. Every player that has exhausted his eligibility at UGA under Fox has completed his degree.
Prominent among this group of 14 includes Damien Wilkins - nephew of UGA great Dominique Wilkins - whose last year of eligibility came in 2004 and who has played professionally in the NBA ever since.
Last summer the Georgia program was recognized by the NCAA for its Academic Progress Rate (APR) scored of 990, which ranked among the top 10 percent of all men's basketball programs.