Lady Bulldogs Make First Trip to Texas A&M
Feb. 12, 2014
Georgia makes first trip to A&M
The Georgia Lady Bulldogs braved a potentially "catastrophic" ice storm to venture to College Station, Texas for the first time ever. The team departed Athens on Tuesday morning at 11:45 a.m. - nearly 57 hours prior to tipoff - to beat the impending winter weather that closed the UGA campus Tuesday and was only slated to worsen.
Georgia will face No. 14 Texas A&M on Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on both FOX Sports Southwest and FOX College Sports Channel (Channel 303 for Charter subscribers in the Athens area). Will Johnson and Tap Bentz will handle the play-by-play and color analyst duties, respectively.
The Lady Bulldogs are currently 16-7 overall and 4-6 in SEC play after defeating Ole Miss, 84-63, last Sunday. That victory guaranteed a 35th consecutive winning season for UGA under head coach Andy Landers.
This season, Georgia 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. The Lady Bulldogs have since won four of their last six.
Shacobia Barbee paces a quartet of perimeter players averaging double figures for Georgia. Barbee actually leads the Lady Bulldogs in scoring (12.5 ppg), rebounding (7.9 rpg) and steals (an SEC-best 2.9 spg). In addition, Khaalidah Miller (11.1 ppg), Tiaria Griffin (10.6 ppg) and Erika Ford (10.0 ppg) are scoring at a double-digit pace for Georgia.
In SEC action, Barbee leads the Lady Bulldogs at 12.5 ppg and 7.2 rpg, while Miller (10.8 ppg) produces a second a double-figure scoring average as well.
Texas A&M is currently 18-6 overall and 8-2 in league action. The Aggies opened their SEC slate with six straight conference victories before suffering setbacks to No. 10 Tennessee and at No. 18 Vanderbilt in their last four games.
"Dueling Courtneys" lead the Aggies offensively. Courtney Walker tops Texas A&M with a 13.9 ppg average, while Courtney Walker chips in 13.1 ppg. Karla Gilbert adds 10.4 ppg and team-high 7.9 rpg.
Keeping an eye on...entering today's game:
Khaalidah Miller is...
Quoting Coach Landers...
On the disruption of routine due to the weather...
On The challenges of playing Ole Miss...
On The parity in the SEC this season...
Series History versus Texas A&M
Texas A&M owns a 3-0 lead in its series with the Lady Bulldogs, making the Aggies one of only two SEC programs (Tennessee is the other) to possess a winning record over UGA.
The Lady Bulldogs and Aggies are meeting for the second time this season. On Jan. 12 in Athens, Courtney Walker scored 16 points and Achiri Ade grabbed 16 rebounds to lead Texas A&M to a 58-44 win over No. 25 Georgia.
Shacobia Barbee led the Lady Bulldogs in the scoring column with 16 points.
The Aggies turned several Lady Bulldog turnovers into eight fastbreak points to open up a 17-8 lead midway through the first half. A&M eventually led 31-17 at the intermission, largely due to the Aggies shooting 45.2 percent from the floor and Georgia connecting on just 3-of-11 free throws during the period.
The Lady Bulldogs missed their first seven field goal attempts of the second half as A&M expanded its lead to 38-17.
A 12-2 run by Georgia cut the margin to 49-36 with 7:20 left, but the Lady Bulldogs failed on trim the margin any further on their next four possessions.
Last Time out...
Erika Ford's 16 points led five Lady Bulldogs in double figures as Georgia defeated Ole Miss, 84-63, last Sunday in Athens.
Georgia scored the game's first eight points over the opening 2:39 and never trailed. The Rebels pulled within 21-18 before a Tiaria Griffin steal and layup opened an 11-0 run.
The Lady Bulldogs led 48-29 at the half and pushed that advantage to 62-36 with 14:36 remaining.
"It was a very good effort," Andy Landers said. "I thought early on our defense set the tempo and knocked some balls loose and perhaps put Ole Miss a little bit off balance. We were able to transition and score and we were able to execute in the half court.
"It was a good game...40 minutes of reasonably good play," Landers added. " The only thing I think that I would like to see is when somebody makes a run or cuts into us a little bit, I'd like to see a different fight out of us."
A familiar, friendly face
Georgia's Andy Landers and Texas A&M's Gary Blair have been friends for decades. The relationship dates back to the early-80s when Blair was an assistant coach at Louisiana Tech.
Blair was on the Lady Techsters' staff when Georgia faced La. Tech for the first time on Jan. 27, 1982. The top-ranked Lady Techsters defeated the No. 16-ranked Lady Bulldogs in a UGA "home" game played at the Cobb Civic Center in Marietta.
Landers and Blair were set to face off for the first time in Dec. 1993 when Stephen F. Austin traveled to Athens; however, Blair left SFA to for Arkansas the previous spring.
From 1993-2003 when Blair was the head coach of the Lady Razorbacks, the Lady Bulldogs compiled a 13-1 record against Arkansas.
Blair has reversed that trend during his tenure in College Station, leading the Aggies to a 3-0 record against Georgia.
Winning season in the bag
Georgia's Feb. 9 victory over Ole Miss was the Lady Bulldogs' 16th "W" of the season and guaranteed a 35th consecutive winning campaign under Andy Landers.
That represents the third-longest active streak of winning seasons in NCAA Division I women's basketball, trailing on Tennessee (41 in 2013-14) and Green Bay (36 through 2012-13 and currently 14-7 this season).
While winning seasons are commonplace for Georgia Basketball now, that wasn't always the case. The Lady Bulldogs were a woeful 37-85 (.303) in their first seven seasons of intercollegiate play prior to Landers' arrival.
Landers, a 26-year-old with four seasons of junior college experience, was the first hire legendary football coach Vince Dooley made after assuming the role as UGA's Athletic Director in 1979. That decision has paid major dividends.
In Landers' first season at Georgia, the Lady Bulldogs finished 16-12, just the program's second winning season. The following year, UGA won the 1981 WNIT Championship. Two years thereafter, the Lady Bulldogs reached their first of five Final Fours. And two years later, Georgia finished as 1985 NCAA runner-up.
Georgia has averaged 24.2 wins a season under Landers.
Barbee leads league in steals
Shacobia Barbee is ranked among SEC statistical leaders in six of 13 categories kept, including pacing the league in steals.
Barbee is averaging 2.9 thefts per game, which is half a steal better than anyone else in the league. That also ranks No. 13 nationally.
Barbee has been even more impressive in conference action, where she is averaging 3.0 steals per game.
Among other SEC stats rankings, Barbee is No. 4 in defensive rebounding, No. 7 in rebounding, No. 10 in assist-to-turnover ratio, No. 15 in assists and No. 20 in scoring.
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. 24 among Georgia's career scoring leaders and enters the Texas A&M game 11 points shy of current 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.
Lady Bulldogs hit "Magic Number"
Georgia has reached the 80-point plateau six times this season and, in the process, improved perhaps the greatest statistical indicator other than wins and losses.
The Lady Bulldogs are now 431-6 when scoring 80 or more points during Andy Landers' 35 seasons in Athens. That equates to a winning percentage of 98.62700228833. 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.
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 MP mark in 20, including 11 outings of 30-plus minutes and a 40-minute game 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 8.9 ppg and 6.9 rpg in 2013-14.
Donald reached double digits in six of her first 55 games played as a Lady Bulldog but has done so in nine of Georgia's last 16 games.
Turning defense into offense
Through 11 games, the Lady Bulldogs possessed a +141 (+12.8 ppg) edge in points off TOs.
While losing five of its next six outings, opponents outpaced Georgia 118-91 (-4.5 ppg) in points from giveaways.
That was a 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 six games, Georgia owns a 105-86 edge on points from TOs.
Taking advantage of the charity
Although Georgia ranks last in the SEC and 326th in the nation in free throw percentage, the Lady Bulldogs have been much better at the line in their last four-plus games.
With 1:46 remaining in its win over Arkansas, Georgia had made just 192-of-329 attempts at the charity stripe, just 58.4 percent.
The Lady Bulldogs then hit 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 six contests, the Lady Bulldogs are 70-of-99 at the line, a solid 70.7 percent.
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."
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