Georgia, Florida Set to Play 4Kay
Feb. 15, 2014
Georgia, Florida Set to Play 4Kay
Two rivals join the same team at Stegeman Coliseum on Sunday when the Georgia Lady Bulldogs host the Florida Gators in a nationally televised contest as part of the Play 4Kay initiative. ESPNU will air the 1:00 p.m. match-up, with Melissa Lee calling the play-by-play and former Lady Bulldog letterwinner Maria Taylor serving as color analyst.
The UGA-UF tilt is one of seven games on the ESPN family of networks in association with Play 4Kay, which serves an opportunity for a nation of coaches to raise breast cancer awareness and funds for research on the court, across campuses, in communities and beyond. Since its inception in 2007, the Play 4Kay initiative has raised over $2.8 million to support women's cancer research.
Kay Yow, former N.C. State head coach, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987, and passed away on January 24, 2009, after facing her third bout with the disease.
For more information visit www.KayYow.com or contact the Yow Foundation staff at info@KayYow.com.
The Lady Bulldogs are currently 16-8 overall and 4-7 in SEC play following Thursday's overtime loss at No. 14 Texas A&M.
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 its next six and starting SEC play 0-4 for the first time ever. The Lady Bulldogs are 4-3 since then.
Shacobia Barbee paces a quartet of double-figure scoring averages for Georgia. Barbee actually leads UGA in scoring (12.3 ppg), rebounding (8.0 rpg) and steals (an SEC-best 2.9 spg). In addition, Khaalidah Miller (11.0 ppg), Tiaria Griffin (10.7 ppg) and Erika Ford (10.0 ppg) are scoring at a double-digit pace.
In SEC action, Barbee leads the Lady Bulldogs at 12.2 ppg and 7.6 rpg, while Miller (10.6 ppg) produces a second a double-figure scoring average.
Florida arrives in Athens with a 17-7 overall record and a 7-4 league mark. The Gators are coming off an open date Thursday - as they also did when Georgia traveled to Gainesville last month. Last Sunday, Florida completed a home-and-home sweep of No. 15 Kentucky.
Jaterra Bonds (15.3 ppg) leads four Gators contributing double-digit points along with Kayla Lewis (11.2 ppg), January Miller (10.7 ppg) and Cassie Peoples (10.0 ppg). Lewis is grabbing a team-high 9.0 rpg.
Bonds leads Florida in scoring in league play as well at 13.6 ppg, while Lewis has upped her contributions against conference foes to 12.4 ppg and an SEC-high 9.5 rpg.
Keeping an eye on...entering today's game:
Khaalidah Miller is...
Quoting Coach Landers...
On bouncing back from the Overtime loss at Texas A&M...
On getting back into a routine...
Series History versus The Gators
Georgia is 49-14 all-time against the Gators, including a 26-3 record in Athens. Three of the Gators' victories came prior to Andy Landers' tenure at UGA. He is an even more impressive 49-11 versus Florida.
Today's contest will be the 64th between the Lady Bulldogs and the Gators, making Florida Georgia's most familiar foe.
Four weeks ago in Gainesville, Erika Ford poured in what was then a career-high 23 points to lead four Lady Bulldogs in double figures as Georgia rallied past Florida, 68-62.
The Lady Bulldogs outscored the Gators 15-9 in the game's waning moments. Georgia, which ranks last in the SEC in free throw percentage, shot a season-best 88.9 percent from the line. The Lady Bulldogs connected on 16-of-18 free throws, including 11-of-12 in the final 5:34 after the game was tied 53-53.
Florida scored the game's first seven points and maintained a comfortable edge for the remainder of the period before leading by six at halftime.
Georgia got within two points four times in the second half before finally knotting the score at 43-43 on a Krista Donald jumper with 10:52 left. Florida regained a 47-43 lead before a Shacobia Barbee layup and a Khaalidah Miller 3-pointer gave the Lady Bulldogs their first lead at 49-48.
Following three lead changes, the Gators tied the score at 53-53. Merritt Hempe then hit two free throws to open UGA's decisive surge.
In the most recent match-up in Athens on Jan. 27 last season, Jasmine Hassell led a trio of double-digit scorers as No. 14 Georgia cruised past Florida, 69-52.
Hassell notched 13 points, Tiaria Griffin tallied 12 and Donald recorded a season-high 11. Barbee led the Lady Bulldogs on the boards, pulling down a game-high 11 rebounds.
A Hassell layup ignited a 10-0 run that put Georgia up 14-4. The Lady Bulldogs eventually stretched their advantage to 39-20 at the half.
Hempe started a second-half 17-2 run that gave Georgia its largest lead at 64-33.
Last Time out...
No. 14 Texas A&M rallied from a six-point deficit with just over a minute to play to force overtime and eventually topped Georgia 78-73 at Reed Arena on Thursday evening.
Merritt Hempe led Georgia with a career-high 19 points before fouling out with 1:06 remaining. Tiaria Griffin added 13 points, all in the second half, and Krista Donald scored 10 points in 44 minutes of action. Shacobia Barbee grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds for the Lady Bulldogs.
"We played extremely hard and with the exception of the turnovers, we definitely played well enough to win," Andy Landers said. "Texas A&M pressured us to get those turnovers and they converted those and made us pay. Those quick points they were able to score off turnovers were the difference in the game."
The Aggies led for only 1:04 of regulation, at 2-0 and 38-35, but then scored the first four points of overtime at the foul line and rallied again after Georgia regained the lead.
After A&M opened the game's scoring, the Lady Bulldogs reeled off 11 straight points over the next 6:23.
Georgia earned its largest lead of the half after Erika Ford drove the length of the court to score and put the Lady Bulldogs up 27-11. UGA led 29-17 at the intermission.
Despite a sluggish start to the second half, Georgia was still up 35-25 with 13:51 remaining before a 13-0 Aggie surge put A&M up 38-35 just 2:52 later.
Tiaria Griffin knocked down a 3-pointer to knot the score and ignite a 16-6 Georgia run covering 2:35 that put the Lady Bulldogs back on top 51-44.
Georgia led 62-56 with 1:26 left following a Donald jumper but A&M scored the final six points of regulation and the first four of OT en route to victory.
Home Was where the wins were
Last season's 61-57 win by the Lady Bulldogs in Gainesville snapped a 10-game winning streak for the home team in the series between Georgia and Florida.
Taylor returns on other side of floor
Maria Taylor, ESPNU's color analyst for Sunday's telecast, was a Lady Bulldog letterwinner during the 2006-07 season.
Taylor played in 22 games, averaging 1.2 ppg and 1.9 rpg in 5.9 minutes of playing time per contest. Georgia finished 27-7 and ranked No. 13 by the Associated Press that season, reaching the "Sweet 16" of the Dallas Regional before falling to No. 11 Purdue.
Taylor, an Alpharetta native and Centennial High alum, also was a standout for the Georgia volleyball program, earning All-SEC accolades three times and finishing her career ranked No. 4 in career kills for the Bulldogs at 1,729.
Game's decided American Idol Style
In one-third of Georgia's game this season the team trailing at halftime has rallied to win...after the break.
The Lady Bulldogs have come back from an intermission deficit to win five times, doing so against Ohio State, Furman, Georgia State, Florida and Kentucky.
Georgia has surrendered a halftime lead in three of its SEC road losses - at Vanderbilt, at Missouri and at Texas A&M.
Winning season in the bag
Georgia's Feb. 9 victory over Ole Miss 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 (41st in 2013-14) and Green Bay (36 through 2012-13 and 14-7 this season entering a Saturday game with Milwaukee).
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. Georgia has since averaged 24.2 wins a season under Landers.
Barbee leads league in steals
Shacobia Barbee is currently averaging 2.9 thefts per game, which is half a steal better than any other league player. That effort also ranks No. 17 nationally.
Barbee is ranked among SEC statistical leaders in six of 13 categories kept, including pacing the league in steals.
Among other SEC stats rankings, Barbee is No. 5 in defensive rebounding (5.5 rpg), No. 6 in overall rebounding (8.0 rpg), No. 9 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5 a-to-TO), No. 15 in assists (3.5 apg) and No. 21 in scoring (12.3 ppg).
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 Florida game two points shy of current No. 23 Tawana McDonald and 11 away from No. 22 Stacey Ford.
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 as Executive Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator for the UGA Athletic Association is 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 any sport's greatest statistical indicator other than scoring more points than your opposition.
The Lady Bulldogs are now 431-6 when putting up 80 or more points during Andy Landers' 35 seasons in Athens. That equates to a winning percentage of 98.627.
Georgia scored 80-plus points in three consecutive outings against Belmont, Kennesaw State and Lipscomb, a first since 2007-08.
Turning defense into offense
Through 11 games, UGA 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 relatively massive momentum 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 seven games, Georgia owns a 123-107 edge on points from TOs.
Taking advantage of the charity
Although Georgia ranks last in the SEC and 329th in the nation in free throw percentage, the Lady Bulldogs have been much better at the line in their last six-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 79-of-112 at the line, a solid 70.5 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."
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 that severely limited her practice and playing time. An arthroscopic procedure last summer to "clean up" the knee has allowed Donald to fully display her vast skill set.
Donald entered the 2013-14 season with a career high of 22 minutes played against Appalachian State as a freshman.
This season, Donald has logged more minutes played than that 22 MP mark in 21 of 24 games, including 12 outings of 30-plus minutes, a 40-minute game at Florida and a career high 44 minutes at Texas A&M.
The MPG increase only begins to tell Donald's story. After averaging 3.9 points and 2.9 rebounds in 12.3 mpg her first two seasons, she is currently contributing 8.9 ppg and 6.9 rpg in 29.3 mpg 2013-14.
Donald reached double digits in six of her first 55 games played as a Lady Bulldog but has done so in 10 of Georgia's last 17 games.
What the Dickens is going on on "D"
Georgia's performance in the Lady Bulldogs' last two games has been arguably their "best of D and the worst of D" this season.
In a win over No. 13 Kentucky, Georgia held the Wildcats to 56 points, 30.1 points under their season average that led the SEC and ranked No. 5 nationally entering that week.
Samarie Walker's 10 points paced Kentucky, a team with five players averaging double digits and a sixth two points shy of being another double-figure ppg producer.
Mississippi State then produced the best overall (27-of-52=.519) and 3-point (6-of-9=.667) field goal percentages of any Georgia opponent this season. State's 27 field goals made and 44 first-half points also represented season highs for a Lady Bulldog opponent.
Lady Bulldogs fall from polls
After being ranked as high as No. 16 by the AP and No. 15 in the USA Today polls in December, Georgia dropped out of both rankings on Jan. 13 after losing its first four SEC dates.
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 590 weekly AP polls, or 86.2 percent of those released. Of those, Georgia was featured in the top-10 of 268 polls, 45.4 percent of the rankings released.
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 list five games later against S.C. State.
Barbee is one of the 23 freshmen to start their collegiate opener.
Attached to rivals North and South
The player who received the loudest individual cheer when starters were introduced when Georgia played at Florida on Jan. 19 may surprise you. Knoxville, Tenn., native Marjorie Butler considers Gainesville "my second home."
Both of Butler's parents grew up in there and she had between 60-70 friends and family at the game against the Gators.
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