A Super Sunday Date in Starkville
Feb. 1, 2014
A Super Sunday date in Starkville
The Georgia Lady Bulldogs will play their third road contest in a four-game span when they trek to Starkville to face Mississippi State on Super Bowl Sunday at 2:00 p.m. CT. The game will be televised by CSS and available worldwide on espn3.com, with Matt Stewart and Joe Ciampi handling the play-by-play and color analyst duties, respectively.
Georgia improved to 15-6 overall and 3-5 in SEC play with a thrilling 58-56 win over No. 13 Kentucky in Athens on Thursday.
This season, the Lady Bulldogs raced to an 11-0 start - equaling the seventh-best beginning in school history - and climbed as high as No. 15 in the national polls before losing five of their next six and starting SEC play 0-4 for the first time ever. Georgia has since bounced back to win three of its last four outings.
Shacobia Barbee paces Georgia in scoring (12.6 ppg), rebounding (8.1 rpg), assists (3.6 apg) and steals (an SEC-best 2.7 spg). Khaalidah Miller (11.2 ppg) and Tiaria Griffin (10.4 ppg) also are scoring at a double-digit pace.
In SEC action, Barbee leads the Lady Bulldogs at 12.9 ppg and 7.5 rpg, while Miller (11.0 ppg) and Krista Donald (10.4 ppg) also sport double-figure scoring averages.
State is currently 15-7 overall and 2-5 in SEC action. The Bulldogs dropped a 65-56 decision at No. 14 LSU on Thursday. State led the Lady Tigers 26-21 at halftime before being outscored 44-30 in the second stanza.
Martha Alwal leads State in scoring (15.2 ppg), rebounding (8.6 rpg) and blocks (2.4 bpg). Kendra Grant chips in 12.0 ppg, while Dominque Dillingham adds a third double-figure scoring average at 10.5 ppg.
Keeping an eye on...entering today's game:
Khaalidah Miller is...
Quoting Coach Landers...
On the Challenges of playing Mississippi State...
"We're a little fortunate to play Mississippi State right after playing Kentucky because their styles of play and what they like to do are somewhat similar. Mississippi State likes to apply full-court pressure so we have some carryover there and hopefully we don't have to go back and review all those things. That affords a little more time to focus on the things that are unique to Mississippi State and make sure that we are prepared for those."
On holding Kentucky to 30 points below its season average...
Series History versus State
Georgia owns a 26-13 lead in all-time match-ups with Mississippi State; however, the series is a much closer 10-8 in Starkville.
Last Feb. 28 in the most recent match-up, State raced to a 10-0 lead and withstood several rallies to upset No. 11 Georgia, 50-38, at Humphrey Coliseum.
Anne Marie Armstrong notched her first double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 boards in a losing effort for Georgia.
State opened up a double-digit lead just 2:35 into the game before Jasmine James canned a 15-foot jumper to finally get the Lady Bulldogs on the board. The margin quickly grew to 19-4 and then 24-9 before a 13-0 UGA run to end the first half.
State regained an eight-point lead early in the second period, but Georgia methodically cut into the margin and pulled within two at 35-33 with 6:27 remaining. The Lady Bulldogs failed on four attempts to tie the game.
State connected on 12-of-14 free throw attempts down the stretch to clinch the upset.
In addition to a season-low 38 points, UGA made its fewest field goals of the year (10) and also had its worst field goal shooting performance of the campaign (18.2 percent).
Last Time out...
Merritt Hempe notched the first double-double of her career with a game-high 15 points and a career-high 11 rebounds to lead Georgia to a 58-56 upset over No. 13 Kentucky at Stegeman Coliseum on Thursday night.
Hempe connected on 7-of-10 shots from the floor, including 6-of-7 in the second half when she scored a dozen points.
After Georgia jumped out to an early lead, Kentucky used a 15-4 surge to build its largest lead of the game at 17-11 with 8:21 left in the first half.
Although the Lady Bulldogs cut that margin to 24-23 at halftime, the Wildcats regained a 35-29 lead with 14:34 remaining.
A Tiaria Griffin 3-point in transition ignited a 9-0 Georgia run that put the Lady Bulldogs up 38-35 just 3:14 later. Georgia led by six points three times before pushing that margin to 57-48 at the 4:53 mark.
Despite scoring only point the rest of the way - on a Marjorie Butler free throw with 22 ticks on the clock - Georgia used several key defensive stops to hold on for the 58-56 win.
Kentucky gained possession with 6.9 seconds left after Griffin missed the front end of a 1-and-1 but Jennifer O'Neill's potential game-winning 3-pointer barely drew iron.
Returning to the Magnolia State
Three members of Lady Bulldog Basketball are Mississippi natives. Associate head coach Joni Crenshaw is from Meridian, while players Krista Donald and Tiaria Griffin hail from Lake and Monticello, respectively.
Crenshaw, who is in her third season in Athens, was the 1997 Gatorade Player of the Year for Mississippi at Meridian High. She led Meridian to a combined 67-7 record during her junior and senior seasons and also won three state titles in track and field.
Crenshaw played collegiately at Alabama and finished her career with 716 points, 555 rebounds and 103 blocks, a tally that remains No. 4 among the Crimson Tide's career leaders.
Donald was named Miss Basketball by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger and the Gatorade Player of the Year in 2011. She was a four-year starter at Lake High School, where she scored 2,456 points and grabbed 1,470 rebounds during her prep career.
Griffin was a two-time first-team All-State performer, earning 4A honors as a junior at Lawrence County High and 6A accolades as a senior at Hattiesburg. She averaged 13.9 ppg as a freshman, 20.0 as a sophomore, 30.1 as a junior and 24.1 as a senior.
Barbee leads here, there, everywhere
Shacobia Barbee now leads Georgia - average wise - in scoring (12.6 ppg), rebounding (8.1 rpg), assists (3.6 apg) and steals (an SEC-leading 2.7 spg).
Barbee is the only player in the SEC who leads her team in all four stats. In fact, she is one of just seven Division I women's hoops players nationally entering this weekend leading their team in ppg, rpg, apg and spg as outlined below.
For the record - and to probably totally jinx any chance Barbee has to do so - no player has ever led the Lady Bulldogs in all four statistics for a season.
* Stats through games of Jan. 30.
Donald quite a story for Georgia
To say that Krista Donald's left knee is held together with duct tape might be an exaggeration, but the contributions of the junior from Lake, Miss., could not be overstated.
Donald was plagued throughout most of her first two seasons in Athens with a nagging posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in her left knee. An arthroscopic procedure last summer to "clean up" the knee has allowed Donald to fully display her vast skill set.
Donald entered the season with a career high of 22 minutes played against Appalachian State as a freshman.
This season, Donald has bettered that 22-minute mark in 18 of 21 games, including 10 outings of 30-plus minutes and a 40-minute outing at Florida.
The MPG increase only begins to tell Donald's story. After averaging 3.9 points and 2.9 rebounds in her first two seasons, she is contributing 9.0 ppg and 7.0 rpg in 2013-14.
Donald reached double digits in just six of her first 55 games played as a Lady Bulldog but has now done so in nine of Georgia's last 14 outings.
Getting it done on the "other" end
In Thursday's win over No. 13 Kentucky, the Lady Bulldogs held the Wildcats to 56 points, 30.1 points under their season average that led the SEC and ranked No. 5 nationally entering this week.
Samarie Walker's 10 points paced Kentucky, a team with five players averaing double digits and a sixth two points shy of being another double-figure ppg producer.
Holding teams under their traditional offensive outputs is nothing new to the Lady Bulldogs. Of Georgia's 21 foes, only two topped its current average point production and just two have produced a better field goal percentage than its present season average.
Alabama did both, scoring 69 points (65.9 ppg) while shooting 46.0 percent (40.4 FG pct.). Tennessee's 85 points topped its 81.2 average, and South Carolina State's 42.2 percent from the field bested its 39.3 season performance.
Lady Bulldogs solid on "Super" Day
The Lady Bulldogs are 17-6 all-time in games contested on the same day as the Super Bowl, including a 3-1 against Mississippi State.
Georgia defeated State 82-60 on Jan. 26, 1992, the same day Washington defeated Buffalo in Super Bowl XXVI.
The Lady Bulldogs topped State, 97-62, on Jan. 28, 1996, hours before Dallas knocked off Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XXX.
State bested Georgia 78-72 on Jan. 31, 1999. The Peach State's day got worse when Denver topped Atlanta in the franchise's only trip to a Super Bowl, edition XXXIII of the big game.
Most recently, the Lady Bulldogs secured a 69-57 win over MSU on Feb. 1, 2009. Pittsburgh then took care of Arizona in Super Bowl XLIII that evening.
Since this is a football-related note, it seems fitting to mention that the University of Georgia is the only school to produce three different players who have won Super Bowl MVP honors - Jake Scott of the Miami Dolphins in 1973, Terrell Davis of the Denver Broncos in 1998 and Hines Ward of the Pittsburgh in 2006.
This will be the 13th straight Super Bowl with a Georgia Bulldog included on one or both rosters.
Georgia has representatives on both sidelines of Super Bowl XLVIII. Champ Bailey and Knowshon Moreno play for Denver, while Chris Clemons is a member of the Seahawks.
Taking advantage of the charity
Although Georgia ranks 14th in the SEC and 324th in the nation in free throw percentage, the Lady Bulldogs have been much better at the line of late.
With 1:46 remaining in its win over Arkansas, Georgia had made just 192-of-329 attempts at the charity stripe, a paltry percentage of 58.4. The Lady Bulldogs made 8-of-10 FTs in the final 106 seconds to hold off the Razorbacks in a 60-58 win.
Beginning with that sequence through the last three games, the Lady Bulldogs have been 45-of-59 at the line, a much more respectable 76.3 percent conversion rate.
Georgia was particularly impressive in its win over Florida on Jan. 19. The Lady Bulldogs made 16-of-18 free throws - including 11-of-12 in the final 5:34 - in Gainesville.
Andy Landers' confidence in his players' abilities to knock down free throws never wavered, largely due to what he saw in practice on a daily basis.
"We shoot them great in practice just about every day," Landers said. "I didn't think it was broke. I just thought it was something a young team needed to get comfortable with in games. We shoot a good percentage in practice. I know we have good strokes."
Miller tops millennium, moves up more
Khaalidah Miller became Lady Bulldog Basketball's 35th 1,000-point scorer during the Nov. 19 victory over Furman.
The Atlanta native has since moved up to No. 25 among Georgia's career scoring leaders and enters the Mississippi State game 18 points shy of current No. 24 Janese Hardrick and 31 from No. 23 Tawana McDonald.
Miller's ascension went into overdrive at Vanderbilt when she moved from No. 31 to No. 28. With 16 points against the Commodores, Miller passed No. 30 Pam Irwin-Osbolt, No. 29 Carla Green and No. 28 Cynthia Collins.
FYI, Green is now Dr. Carla Williams and an Executive Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator for the UGA Athletic Association and the envy of every former Lady Bulldog...as Andy Landers' boss.
Turning defense into offense
Through 11 games, the Lady Bulldogs possessed a healthy +141 (+12.8 ppg) edge on their opponents in points off TOs.
In the stretch when Georgia lost five of six outings, opponents outpaced Georgia 118-91 (-4.5 ppg) in points from giveaways.
That was a relatively significant swing of 17.3 ppg.
"The cause, I think, has just been a lack of discipline," Andy Landers said following a Jan. 2 loss at Vanderbilt. "We've turned it over excessively. They haven't been forced turnovers. It has been, at times, decision making and at other times it has just been poor execution of fundamental passing and catching."
In its last four games, Georgia owns a 64-57 edge on points from TOs.
Lady Bulldogs fall from polls
After being ranked as high as No. 16 by the Associated Press and No. 15 in the USA Today coaches poll in December, Georgia dropped out of both rankings on Jan. 13 after losing its first four SEC outings.
That marked the first time the Lady Bulldogs were not ranked by the Associated Press since the end of the 2010-11 campaign and snapped a streak of 50 consecutive weeks in AP ledgers.
Georgia has a long history of AP rankings.The Lady Bulldogs' first appearance came in the 1981-82 preseason, the same campaign that women's intercollegiate athletics came under the auspices of the NCAA. That also was the fifth year the AP published a women's poll.
Despite that half-decade gap prior from the poll's beginning to UGA's first ranking, Georgia and Andy Landers rank No. 2 in poll appearances by a school and coach, respectively.
Since 1981-82, the Lady Bulldogs have been included in 509 of 588 weekly Associated Press polls, or 86.6 percent of those released.
Of those weeks, Georgia was featured in the top-10 of 268 polls, 45.6 percent of the rankings released during that span.
Lady Bulldogs hit "Magic Number"
Georgia has reached the 80-point plateau five times this season and, in the process, improved perhaps the greatest statistical indicator other than wins and losses.
The Lady Bulldogs are now 430-6 when scoring 80 or more points during Andy Landers' 35 seasons in Athens. That equates to a winning percentage of 98.623853211009.
Georgia scored 80-plus points in three consecutive outings against Belmont, Kennesaw State and Lipscomb, the first time UGA has done so since the first three games of 2007-08 - 81-53 vs. Richmond, 84-56 vs. George Mason and 105-66 vs. Georgia Southern.
Freshman Starter sorority grows
Andy Landers has continued his long-standing penchant of starting freshmen.
Sydnei McCaskill got the nod against Presbyterian to become the 73rd freshman to start during Landers' 35 seasons at UGA and the 23rd do so in her Lady Bulldog debut. McCaskill played all 40 minutes, joining Coco Miller as the only Lady Bulldog freshmen to play every second of their collegiate opener.
Halle Washington became No. 74 on Georgia's freshman starter ledger five games later against S.C. State.
Eight current Lady Bulldogs - senior Khaalidah Miller; juniors Krista Donald and Erika Ford; sophomores Shacobia Barbee, Tiaria Griffin and Merritt Hempe; and freshmen McCaskill and Washington - all started as freshmen.
Barbee is one of the 23 freshmen to start their collegiate opener.
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