Jan. 31, 2012
Georgia resumes its 2011-12 season after an 8-day layoff when it travels to Auburn for a Wednesday night matchup. When the Bulldogs last competed, they dropped a 57-44 decision to top-ranked Kentucky on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at home. The outcome brought their overall record to 10-10 this season, 1-5 in the SEC.
Georgia leads the all-time series against Auburn, 89-87, thanks to a pair of wins last season. The Bulldogs needed overtime to defeat the Tigers in Athens 81-72 on Feb. 5. They met in Atlanta in the SEC Tournament first round, Georgia winning that contest by a 69-51 margin.
This will be Georgia's first venture into the year-old Auburn Arena. Its last time in Auburn came in 2010, the final year for Beard Eaves Memorial Coliseum, in which Bulldog teams had an 11-22 record. Most prominent of Georgia's victories there came in 1990, when the Bulldogs clinched their only regular-season SEC championship by winning 94-79.
Georgia continues to be led by freshman guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who has held team scoring honors throughout the season. He currently leads them at 14.4 points per game, and also has team-high numbers in minutes (31.9 mpg...only Bulldog over 30 minutes per game), defensive rebounds (69) and steals (35). His rookie season-high of 25 points against Ole Miss on Jan. 21 marked the first time in 13 years a Bulldog freshman had scored that many in a single game.
The Kentucky game also marked the fourth time of the SEC schedule, and seventh overall, in which fellow freshman Nemanja Djurisic scored in double figures.
The Auburn game starts a particularly challenging stretch of the SEC schedule. Georgia will play four of its next five games on the road, where its only win thus far this season came in December at Southern Cal.
#Assists Per Game
#Assists Per Game
Head Coach: Tony Barbee
Georgia vs. Auburn
Wednesday's game is the 177th meeting between these two schools. The series began in 1908 and has been renewed annually since 1945. Georgia's two wins over Auburn last season have given it an 89-87 edge in the series.
Auburn is the third most frequent opponent in UGA hoops history. Florida ranks first (195 meetings) and Georgia Tech is second (185).
Since the SEC was pared into East and West divisions, the home team has won the annual meeting 16 of 20 times. The exceptions: Georgia won twice at Auburn (1994, 2008) and vice versa in 1999 and 2009.
A geographical breakdown of the series follows:
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was named as the SEC's Freshman of the Week on Dec. 19. It marked just the seventh time in 12 years of this award that a Georgia Bulldog had earned the honor. It was the first since Trey Thompkins won the F-O-W award for the week of Dec. 1, 2008.
There likely hasn't been as valuable a freshman to Georgia since 2005, when point guard Sundiata Gaines led the Bulldogs in minutes played, assists and steals, and he was also second on the team in both scoring (12.0) and rebounding (4.9). Gaines, however, did not lead Georgia in scoring in 2005; that honor went to sophomore Levi Stukes. The last Bulldog to lead his team in scoring at season's end was All-SEC forward Jumaine Jones in 1998 (14.7 ppg).
Turnovers per Game...as in, Fewest Per Game. It's a stat that isn't kept officially by the SEC office but can be found with a little digging. Georgia leads the league with 10.8 miscues per game, a figure that ranks 11th among 338 Division I teams (the NCAA does indeed keep this stat.). Already this season Georgia has had nine games of single-digit turnovers, two better than last year's team, including a season-low six TOs last week against Kentucky.
A few things about senior Dustin Ware: 1) He led Georgia in scoring against Kentucky with 12 points, just the sixth time of his career he's led the Bulldogs in that statistic. Of those six games, four of them have been losses. 2) He stands a reachable chance to become just the 7th player in UGA history to score 1,000 points and get 350 assists in a career. He'll need at least an 8.5 scoring average over the minimum remaining games to reach the 1,000-point mark. 3) In his first two seasons, 54 percent of Ware's buckets were from 3-point range. In his last season-and-a-half, that figure has risen to 76 percent.
Three Bulldogs have posted measurable increases in their productivity during SEC play. Most notably:
Vincent Williams had two inconspicuous seasons in 2010 and 2011. This year, however, he has thrust himself prominently into a crowded backcourt rotation, even starting 11 of 20 games at the point position. He's already established new career highs in scoring, rebounds and minutes, most recently scoring a career-best 11 points against Mercer on Dec. 20.
Sophomore Donte' Williams has also benefitted from a greatly increased role this season. The 6-9 forward has become Georgia's top frontline offensive threat, with double-figure scoring four times already, including a career-high 17 points against South Dakota State. In just 17 games, Williams has quintupled his scoring output from his 2011 total. He also leads Georgia in blocked shots with 24.
The 2011-12 Bulldogs began this season amid fairly low expectations...externally, at least. In the SEC-sponsored media poll -- a panel that featured two jounalists from each school's coverage area -- Georgia was pegged for an 8th-place finish in the SEC. This, after a year in which the Bulldogs posted the program's first winning record in SEC play since 2003.
Georgia senior Gerald Robinson was named to the Coaches' Pre-Season All-SEC 2nd Team. The Nashville, Tenn., native was one of 16 players picked to two 8-man squads by the league's head coaches. Robinson is the top returning scorer and assist man for the Bulldogs.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's 25 points vs. Ole Miss on Jan. 21 were the most by a UGA freshman in almost 13 years. D.A. Layne poured in 26 points in a Feb. 6, 1999 win at home against South Carolina.
Dustin Ware's current career 3-point shooting percentage ranks him among the best ever in UGA history. Following are the top five long-range shooters at Georgia.
Despite a dificult early-season schedule for Georgia, Kentucky represents its highest-rated opponent yet at No. 5.
From a strictly RPI point of view, Georgia's two best wins of the season were its Nov. 16 victory over South Dakota State at home and Nov. 22 over Notre Dame on a neutral floor. SDSU currently checks in with an RPI of 64, begin the week with a 17-6 record and boast a 19-point win at Washington on their resume. Notre Dame has boosted its RPI a whopping 54 places in the past two weeks, from 119 to its current standing of 65, thanks to three straight Big East wins, including No. 1 Syracuse.
Georgia and the NBA
Perhaps more noteworthy, however, is the progress of 3rd-year pro Sundiata Gaines, who finished his career at Georgia in 2008. After playing in the D-League for 1 1/2 seasons, Gaines was signed in 2010 by Utah, had cups of coffee in Minnesota and Toronto and seems to have found a home in the New Jersey Nets. The Jamaica, N.Y., native is the Nets' 5th-leading scorer, averaging 6.5 points per game and playing almost 15 minutes.
For just the third time ever, Georgia now has four alumni currently playing in the NBA: the aforementioned trio, as well as elder statesman Damien Wilkins, who now plays in Detroit. Just once has UGA placed five alums in the NBA at the same time: the 1993-94 season (Dominique Wilkins, Willie Anderson, Vern Fleming, Litterial Green and Alec Kessler).
It's also worth mentioning that Georgia's other two departures from last season -- frontcourt men Jeremy Price and Chris Barnes -- are both playing professionally now, the former in Finland, the latter in Lithuania.
Georgia and the SEC
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 one AP SEC Player of the Year: Dominique Wilkins in 1981 and no POY, as voted by the league's coaches since 1987. 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 38-49. The 2008 tourney marked the first time since 1997 that Georgia has reached the finals.
Since the league expanded and was pared into East and West Divisions in 1992, Georgia has a 139-180 (.434) record. Eight times since '92 Georgia has had a league record of .500 or better (1993, '95, '96, '97, '01,'03, 07, '11).
Since the league's expansion, Georgia has a 75-124 record (.376) record against the Eastern Division, a 63-58 mark (.518) against SEC Western Division teams. Bulldog teams have had winning records against the West in 13 of 19 years. Georgia's only undefeated season against the West came in 2003.
In the 16-game SEC schedule format, Georgia's most wins came in 2003, when it compiled an 11-5 mark. The Bulldogs' timing, however, left much to be desired. That same year, Kentucky won the East with a perfect 16-0 mark and Florida placed second at 12-4. Georgia's 11-5 mark would've won the West by two games.
In case anyone was wondering, Georgia is 0-3 all-time against Missouri and has never played a basketball game against Texas A&M. The 2001 Bulldogs lost to Mizzou in the NCAA Tournament first round. The two schools also played a home-and-home series during the 2009-10 seasons.