Feb. 10, 2014
About the Game
- Georgia aims for its third consecutive win when it plays a Wednesday night contest at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs arrive at this game with a 12-10 overall record, 6-4 in SEC play. They began this week as one of three teams tied for fourth place in the league standings.
- Most recently, Georgia concluded a 2-game, 48-hour homestand by outlasting Texas A&M 62-50 on Saturday evening. Sophomore guard Kenny Gaines scored all of his game-high 14 points after halftime, as did Charles Mann (10 points). The duo combined to score Georgia's last 15 points to hold off the Aggies, who threatened despite not scoring a field goal in the final 8:21 of the game. Another key figure in Georgia's win was its lone senior, forward Donte' Williams, who contributed nine points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. The victory over Texas A&M was the 200th in the head coaching career of Mark Fox, who is in his fifth season in Athens. It also marked the first time Georgia has posted double-figure wins consecutively. Indeed, the Bulldogs trailed for just 38 seconds total over the past two games, both coming in brief, separate points in the second half against Texas A&M.
- Wednesday's game is the 106th meeting between Georgia and Mississippi State, who will meet twice over the ensuing three weeks. State holds a 53-52 edge in the series by virtue of its 72-61 win last season in Athens, the only time they met in 2013. Georgia took a 70-68 overtime decision in its last trip to Starkville in the 2012 season. It was one of just two UGA wins there during the 21-year span in which SEC teams were pared into East and West Divisions, and Georgia traveled to Starkville biennially.
- Wednesday's game begins a particularly challenging stretch for Georgia in which three of its next four games will be on the road. The lone exception will come this Saturday, when the Bulldogs entertain Ole Miss in their final weekend home game of the regular season.
|F||2||Marcus Thornton**||6-8||235||RJr.||Atlanta, Ga.||7.5||5.8|
|F||15||Donte' Williams***||6-9||225||Sr.||Ellenwood, Ga.||5.7||5.3|
|F||31||Brandon Morris||6-7||215||So.||Lithonia, Ga.||9.5||3.5|
|G||4||Charles Mann*||6-5||210||So.||Alpharetta, Ga.||13.5||2.9#|
|G||12||Kenny Gaines*||6-3||195||So.||Atlanta, Ga.||11.8||2.7|
#Assists Per Game
|MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS|
|F||3||Coliin Borchert||6-8||217||Sr.||Phoenix, Ariz.||10.0||4.6|
|F||20||Gavin Ware||6-9||262||So.||Starkville, Miss.||10.6||7.7|
|G||32||Craig Sword||6-3||193||So.||Montgomery, Ala.||13.2||3.6|
|G||15||I.J. Ready||5-11||165||Fr.||N. Little Rock, Ark.||6.4||3.1#|
|G||1||Fred Thomas||6-5||204||So.||Jackson, Miss.||6.4||3.0|
#Assists Per GameHead Coach: Rick Ray
Record at Miss. State / Years: 23-32 / 2nd season
Overall Record / Years: Same
Assistant Coaches: George Brooks, Wes Flanigan, Chris Hollender
Georgia vs. Mississippi State
Saturday's game is the 106th all-time meeting between Georgia and Mississippi State in basketball. MSU leads the series, which began in 1932 and has been renewed annually since 1949, by the slimmest of margins (53-52) and by virtue of last year's only meeting between the two (72-61 in Athens).
These two programs seem to be frequent opponents in SEC Tournament play. In fact, they've met there three times in the past six seasons, most recently in 2012, when Georgia defeated State 71-61 in the first round in New Orleans.
A geographical breakdown of the series follows: Games in Athens: Georgia leads 26-19 Games in Starkville: State leads 31-16 Neutral-Court Games: Georgia leads 10-3
- Now that senior Donte' Williams was replaced in the starting lineup Feb. 1 at Auburn, Georgia has no single player that has started all 22 games. The Bulldogs have just three players that have played in all 22 (Williams, Thornton and Djurisic). Kenny Gaines is the team's only player to have started every game for which he's been available (20 for 20).
- By the time this game is played, weather will no doubt be a factor in its timing, the attendance, and perhaps whether or not it is televised. This will be the sixth game this season in which the Bulldogs have seen snow; Colorado, George Washington, Missouri, Kentucky and Vanderbilt were the others. Only the latter contest was significantly affected. CSS cancelled its telecast when Atlanta-based production crew members were unable to make it to Athens in time.
- 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). He surpassed that mark last Saturday in the Texas A&M game. He currently averages 7.8 free tosses per game, up from 5.3 tries last year. In SEC games, he averages 9.8 free throw attempts.
- Mann's free-throw frequency leads an impressive showing by the entire Georgia team, which ranks 35th nationally in total FT attempts. Only Kentucky among SEC teams ranks higher. The Bulldogs are 62nd among all 351 D1 teams in total free throws made.
- Amidst their up-and-down performance on offense and defense, the Bulldogs' one constant in SEC play has been their rebounding. Georgia has outrebounded nine of its 10 league opponents thus far. The one exception? Florida, which it tied with 34 boards apiece. The Bulldogs lead the SEC in offensive rebounding through 10 conference games at 14.7 per game. Highlights in the league schedule thus far have been a +9 ledger in a win at Missouri, +7 in a win over LSU, as well as a +22 margin in beating Arkansas.
- More "For What It's Worth" fodder:
> Georgia's win over LSU was its fourth this season over an RPI Top 100 opponent. Those wins include: Missouri, Arkansas, LSU and Alabama, although Alabama's current rating has fallen beyond the 100 mark. Georgia's own RPI rating of 111 is its best of the season to date, after reaching as high as the mid-260s in late December.
> Kenny Gaines is Georgia's leading scorer in its 12 wins (12.4 ppg). Charles Mann, UGA's leading scorer overall, leads Georgia in its 10 losses (15.4 ppg) but has only the No. 2 average in its 10 wins (11.7 ppg).
> When Georgia has won, its opponents have shot 37 percent overall, 32 percent from 3-point range. When the Bulldogs have lost, those percentages rise to 45 and 40 percent, respectively. In their recent 3-game losing streak, the opponents combined to shoot 46 percent overall, 43 percent from beyond the arc.
> Not surprisingly, Georgia wins the free throw-shooting competition when it wins the game. The Bulldogs have outscored their opponents by an average of 21-14 in their 12 wins. Conversely, their opponents have won that battle by a 22-16 in Georgia's eight losses.
- 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 19 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 33.2 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 .407 overall field-goal percentage, .350 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 772 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 nine times this season. That's more than the number of 50 percent shooting games over the previous two seasons combined.
Offense on the Uptick
One thing is apparent through the season thus far: Georgia's offense appears to be measurably more effective than last season, even without its best scorer from 2013. In 15 of 22 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 44.3.
When Georgia defeated LSU 91-78 last Thursday, it marked the first time since 1995 in which Georgia had cracked the 90-point mark twice during the SEC schedule.
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 504-736 (.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.