Georgia Faces Miss. State in SEC Tournament Opener

March 7, 2012

Georgia Bulldogs (14-16, 5-11) vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs (21-10, 8-8)
Thursday, March 8, 2012 - Tipoff Time: 10:00 p.m. (EST)
New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, La.
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Donte' Williams


About the Game
  • Georgia opens play in the 2012 Southeastern Conference on Thursday, March 8 in the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans. The Bulldogs, as the No. 11 seed, will play No. 6 seed Mississippi State in the final game of the evening session at approximately 9:00 p.m. local time.
  • The Bulldogs ended the regular season victoriously by defeating South Carolina 67-55 in Athens last Saturday. As he has for much of the homestretch of this season, senior guard Gerald Robinson paced Georgia as its only double-digit scorer with 23 points. Ten other Bulldogs, however, rang the bell on Senior Day.
  • These two teams met just once in the regular season. Visiting Georgia, behind 20 points from freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and some clutch play from Robinson, rallied to defeat State 70-68 in overtime in Starkville on Feb. 11. Robinson scored 10 of his 13 points in the final 28 seconds of regulation and the extra period. The last of Caldwell-Pope's points, came on a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:01 left in overtime. The win was Georgia's first over a Top 25 opponent on the road since 2004.
  • Caldwell-Pope was named this week to the 2012 SEC All-Freshman team, as voted by the league's 12 head coaches. The Greenville, Ga., native has led the Bulldogs in scoring for much of the season and is currently tops in steals, minutes, 3-pointers and defensive rebounds. He enters this tournament with 405 points this season, already the fifth-highest total by a freshman in UGA history. Trey Thompkins was Georgia's Freshman All-SEC honoree in his rookie season of 2009.
  • Should the Bulldogs be fortunate enough to advance, they'll play third-seeded Vanderbilt in the second round at the same time as Thursday. Vandy took both ends of the regular-season series between the two teams, winning in Nashville 77-66 and taking the return game in Athens by a 61-52 score.


Probable Starters

GEORGIA BULLDOGS
No.NamePos.Ht.Wt.Cl.PPGRPG
F 15 Donte' Williams 6-9 220 So. 8.0 5.4
F 2 Marcus Thornton 6-7 235 So. 3.2 5.1
F 42 Nemanja Djurisic 6-8 230 Fr. 6.8 4.0
G 1 Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 6-5 200 Fr. 13.6 5.2
G 22Gerald Robinson Jr. 6-1 180 Sr. 14.3 3.6#

#Assists Per Game

Head Coach: Mark Fox
Record at Georgia / Years: 49-45 / 3rd season
Overall Record/Years: 172-88 / 8th season
Assistant Coaches: Kwanza Johnson, Philip Pearson, Stacey Palmore

MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS
Pos.No.NameHt.Wt.Cl.HometownPPGRPG
F1Renardo Sidney6-10285Jr.Jackson, Miss.10.15.3
F23Arnett Moultrie6-11249Jr.Memphis, Tenn.16.110.7
G0Jalen Steele6-3190So.Knoville, Tenn.8.11.7
G22Brian Bryant6-3168Sr.Albany, Ga.7.14.4
G3Dee Bost6-2176Sr.Concord, N.C.15.85.3a

#Assists Per Game

Head Coach: Rick Stansbury
Record at Miss. State / Years: 293-164 / 14th season
Overall Record / Years: 293-164 / 14th season
Assistant Coaches: Phil Cunningham, Marcus Grant, George Brooks


Georgia vs. Mississippi State

  • Thursday's game is the 104th all-time meeting between Georgia and Mississippi State in basketball. Mississippi State leads the series, which began in 1932 and has been renewed annual since 1949, by a 52-51 ledger.
  • Since the SEC expanded and was pared into East and West Divisions in 1992, State has a 15-12 edge in games. That includes six SEC Tournament matchups: (UGA 3, MSU 3).
  • This will be the third time in the past five years that these two schools have played in the SEC Tournament. In the past two meetings, one team defeated the other en route to the championship: Georgia downed State in the 2008 semifinals and the following year, State defeated Georgia in the 2009 first round.
  • Georgia's lowest point total ever in a victory -- in the so-called Modern Era -- took place in a 26-20 win at Starkville on Jan. 13, 1982.
  • Geographically speaking, the series can be broken down as such: In Athens: UGA leads 26-18
    In Starkville: MSU leads 31-15
    Neutral-Court Games: UGA leads 9-2
Noteworthy...
  • 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 10.5 miscues per game, a figure that ranks 6th among 338 Division I teams (the NCAA does indeed keep this stat.). Already this season it has had 12 games of single-digit turnovers, including a season-low four TOs on Feb. 11 in their overtime win at Miss. State. Game-by-game stats are available only back to the 1979-80 season. There is no game during that time span -- 1979 to the present -- where Georgia committed fewer than its four turnovers from that game.
  • Counting his two seasons at Tennessee State, Gerald Robinson enters today's game with 1,850 career points, 829 at Georgia and 1,021 in two seasons (2008-09) at TSU. That combined figure would rank 2nd on Georgia's career scoring list, behind only all-time leader Litterial Green (2,111 pts.).
  • There likely hasn't been as valuable a freshman to Georgia as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 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). The last Bulldog freshman to lead his team in scoring at season's end, however, was All-SEC forward Jumaine Jones in 1998 (14.7 ppg).
  • Dustin Ware remains within reachable distance of becoming the 42nd player in UGA history to score 1,000 career points. With a minimum of one game left, he needs just 16 points to reach the mark. What makes Ware so unusual is this: he would become just the 3rd player in UGA history to reach 1,000 points by making more 3-pointers than 2-pointers; G.G. Smith (1996-99) and Levi Stukes (2004-07) are the others. Should Ware reach that 1,000-point mark, he'd also become the third member of UGA's 2007-08 recruiting class to achieve the milestone. Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, also members of that class, reached 1,000 in three seasons before departing for the NBA last spring. One more note about Ware. Because of Kentucky's recent dominance of the SEC, Ware is one of just three active, non-UK players in the league that have played on winning teams at Rupp Arena. The other two are Dee Bost of Miss. State and Storm Warren of LSU.
  • Dustin Ware last season ranked 5th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio. This season he doesn't meet the minimum qualifying standard for national ranking (3.0 assists/game). Still, his current A/TO ratio of 3.13 would rate him fifth among all Division I players in that statistic.
  • Georgia's win at Miss. State on Feb. 11 was its first road victory over a Top 25 opponent since Jan. 17, 2004, when the Bulldogs defeated then-No. 5 Kentucky 65-57 in Rupp Arena.
  • Despite a scoring margin of -1.8, the Bulldogs have tallied more total field goals and more 3-pointers than their opponents this season. The discrepancy rests at the free-throw line, where Georgia's opponents average scoring 4.0 more points -- and 5.8 more attempts -- than the Bulldogs. In the 14-game SEC schedule, the margin is even greater. SEC opponents are averaging 16.9 FT points compared to 10.0 by Georgia.
  • Sophomore Donte' Williams has benefitted from a greatly increased role this season. The 6-9 forward has become Georgia's top frontline offensive threat, with double-figure scoring nine times, including two career-high 17-points games against South Dakota State and Kentucky. In just 17 games, Williams quintupled his scoring output from his 2011 total. He also leads Georgia in blocked shots with 38.
  • 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.

    Career 3-Point Percentage Leaders
    (Minimum 150 3FGs Made)
    1..444 (172-387)Jody Patton1988-91
    2..429 (194-453)Bernard Davis1991-94
    3..396 (231-583)D.A. Layne1999-2001
    4..395 (215-544)Litterial Green1989-92
    5..363 (189-521)Dustin WarePresent

Georgia & the SEC Tournament

Following are some facts about Georgia's past performances at the SEC Tournament:

Here's a yearly record of Georgia's showing at the SEC Tournament since it was revived in 1979:

1979:1-1Second Round
1980:0-1First Round
1981:2-1Championship Game
1982:0-1Second Round
1983:3-0Champions
1984:1-1Second Round
1985:1-1Semifinals
1986:0-1Second Round
1987:1-1Semifinals
1988:3-1Championship Game
1989:1-1Second Round
1990:0-1Second Round
1991:1-1Semifinals
1992:1-1Second Round
1993:1-1Second Round
1994:1-1Second Round
1995:0-1Second Round
1996:1-1Semifinals
1997:3-1Championship Game
1998:1-1Second Round
1999:0-1First Round
2000:0-1First Round
2001:0-1First Round
2002:0-1Second Round
2003:Did Not Play
2004:1-1Second Round
2005:0-1First Round
2006:0-1First Round
2007:1-1Second Round
2008:4-0Champions
2009:0-1First Round
2010:1-1Second Round
2011:1-1Second Round

  • Georgia has a 39-49 overall record (.443) in Tournament games. That's eighth-best among the 16 teams that have participated in the Tournament's history (includes ex-members Ga. Tech, Tulane and Sewanee).
  • Georgia has reached the finals six times: 1940, 1981, 1983, 1988, 1997 and 2008. It's reached the semis 12 times, fifth-best among all SEC teams.
  • Georgia's first championship came in 1983, and it served as a springboard for the Bulldogs' march to the NCAA Final Four.
  • Since the tournament was revived in 1979, an SEC team has advanced from the first round to the title game (four straight games) just nine times. Georgia has done it thrice:
    1988 Lost to Kentucky in title game
    1997 Lost to Kentucky in title game
    2008 Defeated Arkansas in title game
  • For 19 straight years, from 1980-98, Georgia played at least into the tournament second round. Its 1st-round exit in '99 ended that string, and the Bulldogs had met a similar fate each succeeding time before an opening-round win over Auburn in 2004.
  • Georgia owns at least a share of several tournament records:
    • Longest Game: 4 OTs vs. Auburn in 1979.
    • Fewest Points: 11 vs. Tennessee in 1937
    • Fewest FGs: 3 vs. Tennessee in 1937
    • Fewest FTs Made: 1 vs. Mississippi State in 2009
    • Most 3-pt. FGA: 17 by Jody Patton vs. Tennessee in 1991
    • Most 3-pt. FGM: 8 by Levi Stukes vs. Auburn in 2004 (1 of 5 players to hold the record)
  • By beating them in the SEC Tournament, Georgia has had the unusual distinction of playing three recent SEC coaches in their last games at their respective schools: Dale Brown of LSU (1997), Richard Williams of Mississippi State (1998) and Cliff Ellis of Auburn (2004).
  • Twelve Georgia players have made the All-Tournament team, six since the tourney was revived in 1979. Before Sundiata Gaines and Terrance Woodbury made the team in 2008, it had been 11 years since Georgia's last appointment: Dominique Wilkins (MVP in '81), Vern Fleming (MVP in 1983), Pat Hamilton in 1988, Ray Harrison in 1997; Sundiata Gaines (MVP) and Terrance Woodbury in 2008.
  • Since the Chick-Fil-A "Legends" program was introduced in 1999, the following ex-Bulldogs have represented the Georgia program:
    1999 - Vern Fleming
    2000 - Alec Kessler
    2001 - Zippy Morocco
    2002 - Dominique Wilkins
    2003 - James Banks
    2004 - Lavon Mercer
    2005 - Ronnie Hogue
    2006 - Joe Ward
    2007 - Litterial Green
    2008 - Hugh Durham
    2009 - Shandon Anderson
    2010 - Tom Brennan
    2011 - Walter Daniels
    2012 - Willie Anderson

Of RPIs and Such

A few observations about Georgia's place in the world of the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI):

  • Georgia began this week with an RPI of 112, having climbed just eight spots after its win over Florida..
  • Georgia's win at Miss. State caused a 14-point improvement in the Bulldogs' RPI, from 112 to 98. Conversely, the outcome caused State's RPI to balloon from 31 to 45.
  • Georgia now has five victories vs. RPI 100 teams. Chronologically, they are:
    1) 72-61 at home on Nov. 16 vs. No. 57 South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits are currently 24-7 with a 19-point win at Washington on their resume.
    2) 61-57 neutral-court win vs. No. 43 Notre Dame, which has a 20-10 mark and a 9-game Big East win streak to its credit.
    3) 81-59 at home over then-No. 59 Arkansas on Feb. 8
    4) 70-68 at then-No. 31 Miss. State. on Feb. 11
    5) 76-62 vs. then-No. 17 Florida on Feb. 25

Georgia and the NBA

Georgia's two premature departures from 2011 have seen early-season action with the NBA team that drafted them in the second round. Both Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie have played for the Los Angeles Clippers, the former in 13 games and the latter in eight.

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 has played in 31 games, starting in five.

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

Following are a few tidbits about Georgia's history in the SEC:

  • Georgia's all-time record in SEC games, covering 77 years, is 488-721 (.404). That ranks 10th of the 12 current SEC members.
  • 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.

 
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