Dec. 20, 2013
About the Game
- Georgia wraps up its pre-Christmas slate, as well as a 5-game homestand, with a Saturday afternoon contest with Western Carolina. The Bulldogs have won each of the first four games in this set, most recently a 58-49 decision over Gardner-Webb slightly more than 48 hours ago.
- Freshman Juwan Parker had team-high totals of 12 points and nine rebounds for Georgia, which improved its record to 5-4 by defeating Gardner-Webb. It was Parker's first collegiate starting assignment and indicative of the steady progress he's made in this young season. The Bulldogs won despite a slow start and an offensive outing that produced season-low scoring and field-goal shooting. They outrebounded G-W 46-27 and held the visiting Bulldogs to 32 percent shooting, just three days after shooting 54 percent in a loss at No. 8 Duke.
- Even with sub-par offensive numbers, this year's Bulldogs remain far ahead of their predecessors in that regard. The 2014 Georgia squad is averaging nearly 14 points more than last season (74.6 to 60.8) and shooting almost eight percentage points higher (48.0 to 40.8 percent). Four regulars are currently shooting over 57 percent, including Nemi Djurisic, who also leads the Bulldogs in shooting 54 percent from 3-point range.
- Saturday's game is the sixth all-time meeting between Georgia and Western Carolina, whose campus is just 120 miles north of Athens, in basketball. Georgia has won all five previous meetings, most recently an 89-65 win in December of 2005. The game is also the fifth and final contest this season against Southern Conference opponents. Georgia has won three of those, its only loss coming to Davidson in the Charleston Classic first round.
- The Bulldogs will break for Christmas after the game Saturday and will reconvene in Athens on the 24th. Georgia completes its pre-SEC schedule with a pair of challenging road games: Dec. 28 at No. 20 Colorado and Jan. 3 at George Washington.
|F||2||Marcus Thornton**||6-8||235||RJr.||Atlanta, Ga.||6.8||4.6|
|F||15||Donte' Williams***||6-9||225||Sr.||Ellenwood, Ga.||7.1||6.3|
|F||3||Juwan Parker||6-4||200||Fr.||Tulsa, Okla.||4.5||4.0|
|G||4||Charles Mann*||6-5||210||So.||Alpharetta, Ga.||13.5||2.8#|
|G||12||Kenny Gaines*||6-3||195||So.||Atlanta, Ga.||11.2||2.6|
#Assists Per Game
|WESTERN CAROLINA CATAMOUNTS|
|F||1||Kenneth Hall||6-7||210||Jr.||Dallas, Texas||2.4||3.1|
|F||32||Tawaski King||6-8||245||Sr.||Dublin, Ga.||7.2||5.0|
|G||5||Trey Sumler||6-2||175||Sr.||Rocky Mount, N.C.||17.8||4.4|
|G||25||James Sinclair||6-3||180||Jr.||Savannah, Ga.||9.4||3.4|
|G||24||Brandon Boggs||6-5||190||Sr.||Greenville, S.C.||10.8||4.5|
Head Coach: Larry Hunter
Record at Western Carolina / Years: 122-137 / 8th season
Overall Record / Years: 631-361 (33rd season)
Assistant Coaches: Anquell McCollum, Eric Wilson, Brigham Waginger
Georgia vs. Western Carolina
Saturday's game is the sixth all-time meeting between these two schools in basketball. Georgia has won all five previous meetings, all in Athens and in the past 20 years, most recently on Dec. 31, 2005:
12/4/93: Georgia 100, Western Carolina 64
11/26/94: Georgia 94, Western Carolina 67
11/29/95: Georgia 91, Western Carolina 71
11/21/03: Georgia 78, Western Carolina 67
12/31/05: Georgia 89, Western Carolina 65
The 2003 meeting was likely the most noteworthy in this brief series, for two reasons: it marked the first game of the Dennis Felton era at UGA and the game featured the third-highest individual offensive output in the history of Stegeman Coliseum. The Catamounts' Kevin Martin, now of the NBA's Minnesota T-Wolves, sank seven of 14 3-point shots en route to a 44-point day. Martin scored 33 of his 44 in the second half, yet his team never got within eight points in the final period.
One extra twist to the Martin story. The native of Zanesville, Ohio, was recruited to Cullowhee by current UGA assistant coach Stacey Palmore, who left the school in 2002.
Georgia wraps up its pre-SEC schedule with perhaps its two biggest challenges thus far. The Bulldogs play Dec. 28 at No. 20 Colorado, which began this week at 10-1, whose only loss was a neutral-court game vs. 12th-ranked Baylor and which includes a buzzer-beating decision over Kansas among its 10 wins. Georgia also plays Jan. 3 at George Washington, which began this week at 9-1 and includes a win vs. cross-town rival Maryland on its resume.
Much has been made of the new enforcement of existing rules, as well as new rules, this season. Specifically, the following are supposed to be different from past seasons:
Under the revised block/charge call in men's basketball, a defensive player is not permitted to move into the path of an offensive player once he has started his upward motion with the ball to attempt a field goal or pass. If the defensive player is not in legal guarding position by this time, it is a blocking foul. Previously, a defender had to be in legal guarding position when the offensive player lifted off the floor.
It is believed that the rule change will:
1) Allow for more offensive freedom;
2) Provide clarity for officials in making this difficult call; and
3) Enhance the balance between offense and defense.
Additionally, officials will be required to adhere to new points of emphasis, all designed to encourage "freedom of movement" in the game of basketball. They include:
1) When a defensive player keeps a hand or forearm on an opponent;
2) When a defensive player puts two hands on an opponent;
3) When a defensive player continually jabs by extending his arm(s) and placing a hand or forearm on the opponent;
4) When a player uses an arm bar to impede the progress of an opponent.
Thus far, as all participants adjust to these changes, the volume of called fouls rose in the beginning but has leveled off recently. There have 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.
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. This, despite a 9-9 SEC record last year and an eighth-place tie in the final standings. 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.
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.
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 eight of nine 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 48.0.
Already, Georgia has shot over 50 percent from the field in five games, twice more than in all of 2012-13. The Bulldogs began this week ranking 37th nationally in FG percentage.
Williams a Seasoned Veteran
With Marcus Thornton receiving a medical redshirt season from 2013, Donte' Williams became the Bulldogs' lone senior this season. He is already the most experienced Bulldog, having started 68 games in the past two+ seasons. That's more than twice the total of Thornton, who is second on the team in career starts with 35, including seven in his truncated season of 2013. Williams entered this season with 471 career points, second among all Bulldogs behind Nemi Djurisic, who has tallied 475 in two seasons.
Morris Makes 1st Start of Season
Sophomore forward Brandon Morris missed the season's first three games at the discretion of head coach Mark Fox. His return to action in the middle game of the Charleston Classic made a distinct difference in the Bulldogs' on-court performance.
The Lithonia native made his first start of the season last Saturday against Lipscomb, replacing point guard Charles Mann. Previously, Morris had seen only limited time at the point, including high school and AAU experience.
A Glance at the Stats
As Georgia finds its best rotation in the early going, the Bulldogs are one of six SEC schools with no player currently averaging 30 minutes of playing time per game. Alabama and Kentucky lead this category with three 30-minute players each.
Two Bulldogs -- Forte and Marcus Thornton -- have strugged at the free-throw line this season. Take away their combined numbers (16x39, .41%), and the remainder of the team is shooting 73 percent from the line (140x192).
Freshman Juwan Parker, despite starting just once and playing 20 minutes per game, ranks second on the team in rebounding at 4.6/game. He also averages one board every 4.3 minutes of action, second only to Donte' Williams 1/3.6 min.