Lady Bulldogs Host MSU in Regular Season Finale
March 1, 2014
Lady Bulldogs Host MSU in finale
Georgia wraps it 2013-14 regular-season slate on Sunday afternoon when the Lady Bulldogs host Mississippi State at Stegeman Coliseum at 1:00 p.m. The game will be televised regionally on SportSouth and available worldwide via espn3.com, with Dave Baker and Christy Winters Scott serving in the play-by-play and color analyst roles, respectively.
Georgia is currently 18-10 overall and 6-9 in SEC play this season. The Lady Bulldogs are looking to snap at two-game losing skid with road losses at Auburn last Sunday and at South Carolina on Thursday.
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 6-5 since, including victories over No. 13 Kentucky and No. 19 LSU.
Shacobia Barbee paces a trio of guards averaging double figures for Georgia. Barbee actually leads UGA - average wise - in scoring (13.0 ppg), rebounding (8.2 rpg), assists (3.4 apg) and steals (an SEC-best 2.7 spg). Khaalidah Miller (11.0 ppg) and Erika Ford (10.8 ppg) also average double digits for UGA.
In SEC action, Barbee paces the Lady Bulldogs at 13.4 ppg and 8.1 rpg, while Ford (11.6) and Miller (10.2 ppg) are contributing double-figure scoring averages as well.
Mississippi State arrives in Athens with records of 18-11 overall and 5-10 in league action. The Bulldogs dropped a 81-74 overtime decision to No. 12 Kentucky. In fact, each of State's last three games has been an OT affair, including a win at Ole Miss and a loss at Alabama.
Martha Alwal provides the Bulldogs with a dominant post presence. She averages 15.7 ppg, 9.1 rpg and 2.6 bpg. Kendra Grant comes off the bench to average 11.2 ppg, while freshmen Dominique Dillingham and Breanna Richardson chip in identical 9.3 ppg averages.
Martha Alwal averages 14.5 ppg and 9.5 rpg against SEC competition, while Richardson has upped her contributions to 11.1 ppg against league foes.
Keeping an eye on...entering today's game:
Khaalidah Miller is...
Quoting Coach Landers...
On Bouncing back following consecutive losses...
On senior Khaalidah Miller...
Series History versus State
Georgia owns a 26-13 lead in all-time match-ups with Mississippi State, including a 14-3 edge here in Stegeman Coliseum.
A month ago to the day in Starkville, Mississippi State defeated Georgia, 80-67, despite a career-high 27 points by Erika Ford.
State used a 9-0 run early in the first half to grab a lead, gradually expanded that margin to 18 points late in the period and then withstood several rallies by Georgia in the second stanza.
The Lady Bulldogs pulled within 71-65 on a Krista Donald layup with 2:22 remaining; however, Martha Alwal answered with a layin of her own on the other end. Following a missed baseline jumper by Merritt Hempe, Katia May knocked down a jumper with 1:25 left to put State back up by 10 points.
In the most recent meeting in Athens on Feb. 2, 2012, Jasmine Hassell and Khaalidah Miller scored 16 points each as No. 21 Georgia snapped a two-game losing streak and defeated Mississippi State, 70-60.
The Lady Bulldogs took the lead with a 15-4 run that lasted the game's first six minutes.
Georgia led for all but 28 seconds of the opening half, when Mississippi State went up by one, 22-21. With 4:10 left, Ford put Georgia back on top with a layup that sparked another 15-4 surge which gave UGA a 36-26 advantage at halftime.
The second stanza started with another big surge, this time a 14-4 Mississippi State run that knotted the game at 40-40. A jumper and subsequent free throw by Hassell sparked a 15-0 Georgia push over the next four minutes as UGA regained control. The Lady Bulldogs eventually led by 22 points on three occasions, lastly at 70-48 with 2:15 left.
Last Time out...
No. 4 South Carolina opened up a double-digit lead midway through the first half and maintained a comfortable margin the rest of the evening en route to a 67-56 victory over Georgia on Thursday.
The Lady Bulldogs missed their first five shots from the field as South Carolina opened up a 6-0 lead 3:04 into the game.
Georgia trimmed the margin to 12-7 on an old-fashioned 3-point play by Halle Washington but then failed on three opportunities to cut further into the lead. Carolina responded with a 10-0 run over the next 3:29 to build a 22-7 lead with 7:35 left in the period.
The Gamecocks' first-half lead topped out at 16 points three times, lastly at 28-12 before Georgia cut that to a dozen at the intermission.
An Erika Ford 3-pointer to open the second-half scoring got the Lady Bulldogs within nine and a pair of Khaalidah Miller free throws made it 32-25 with 17:17 left. Georgia forced a defensive stop but turned the ball over on its next possession, resulting in a breakaway layup by Khadijah Sessions. South Carolina pushed the margin back to 13 points just over a minute later.
Georgia actually made four more field goals and three more 3-pointers than South Carolina. The Gamecocks scored 30 points at the line, however, connecting on 30-of-38 trips.
Lady Bulldogs Look to tie UGA record
Georgia enters the finale with a 14-2 record at Stegeman Coliseum, one win shy of equaling the Lady Bulldogs' record for home victories in a season.
In both 1983-84 and 1990-91 Georgia compiled perfect 15-0 records at what was then known as the Georgia Coliseum.
A year ago, the Lady Bulldogs compiled a 15-1 record to match that win total.
This season's Georgia team has been impressive at home. The Lady Bulldogs were a perfect 7-0 in non-conference play, most notably defeating Ohio State and Georgia Tech. Georgia has compiled a 5-2 home record in SEC action, a tally headlined by victories over No. 13 Kentucky and No. 19 LSU.
In the process, Georgia has improved to 418-87 all-time in Stegeman Coliseum dating back to the 1975-76 season, equating to a rather sterling 82.8 winning percentage.
The Lady Bulldogs were just 14-24 in four seasons of play within the Coliseum prior to Andy Landers' arrival in 1979. Subtract out those wins and losses and Landers-coached Georgia teams an even more impressive 404-63 (86.5) at Stegeman.
Lots of points with the clock stopped
In Georgia's two-game losing skid with losses at Auburn and at South Carolina, the Tigers and Gamecocks have done much of their damage on trips to the free throw line.
Last Sunday, Auburn converted on 24-of-31 attempts at the charity stripe. In Columbia, the Gamecocks were 30-of-38 on free throws, both representing season-high tallies by a Lady Bulldog opponent.
Quick math reveals a combined 54-of-69 conversion rate in those games, accounting for a whopping 27.0 ppg. That represents 40.3 percent of the 143 points Georgia has allowed in those setbacks.
Barbee leads here, there, everywhere
Shacobia Barbee currently leads Georgia in average scoring (13.0 ppg), rebounding (8.2 rpg), assists (3.4 apg) and steals (an SEC-leading 2.7 spg).
Barbee is the only player in the Southeastern Conference who leads her team in ppg, rpg, apg and spg.
In fact, she is one of just eight NCAA Division I women's basketball players nationally entering this weekend who is doing so 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.
Ford on fire of late
Erika Ford is averaging 17.3 points per game over the Lady Bulldogs' last seven outings...and she's done so in an efficient fashion.
The Alpharetta, Ga., native has hit 46.2 percent of her field goals in those games...considerably better than the 38.3 percent rate she sported for the season when the stretch began.
Ford opened the series with a career-high 27 points at Mississippi State and has since scored 16 points against Ole Miss, nine at Texas A&M, 19 versus Florida, 20 against LSU, 13 at Auburn and 17 at South Carolina.
Ford was probably most impressive against LSU. She put half of her points in the final 3:58 of the game, including four jumpers after the Lady Tigers had cut Georgia's lead to a single possession during that span.
Games decided American Idol Style
Nine of Georgia's 28 games 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, versus Furman, at Georgia State, at Florida and against Kentucky.
Georgia has surrendered a halftime lead in four of its SEC road losses - at Vanderbilt, at Missouri, at Texas A&M and at Auburn.
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 Division I women's basketball, trailing only Tennessee (41st in 2013-14) and Green Bay (37th in 2013-14).
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.
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. 22 among Georgia's career scoring leaders, most recently passing both Tawana McDonald and Stacey Ford against Florida in Athens.
Miller enters the regular-season finale against Mississippi State 137 points shy of the current No. 21 tally of 1,396 points by Camille Lowe and 138 from the No. 20 tally of 1,397 points by Lady Hardmon.
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.
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 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 began the year with a career high of 22 minutes versus Appalachian St, in 2011-12.
This season, Donald has logged more minutes played than that in 25 of 28 games, including 15 outings of 30-plus minutes, a 40-minute game at Florida and a career-high 44 MP 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 6.7 rpg in 29.8 mpg 2013-14.
Donald reached double digits in just six of her first 55 games played in a Lady Bulldog uniform but has now done so in 12 of Georgia's last 21 games.
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 an almost unfathomable winning percentage of 98.62700228833.
Georgia scored 80-plus points in three consecutive outings against Belmont, Kennesaw State and Lipscomb, a first since the first three games of the 2007-08 season.
Taking advantage of the charity
Although Georgia ranks last in the SEC and 333rd (of 343) nationally 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 on Jan. 16, 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 preserve a 60-58 win over the Razorbacks.
Beginning with that sequence and continuing through the last 10 contests, the Lady Bulldogs are 118-of-175 at the line, a much more respectable 67.4 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.
"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."
Turning defense into offense
Through 11 games, Georgia possessed a +141 (+12.8 ppg) edge in points off turnovers.
While losing five of its next six, foes outpaced UGA 118-91 (-4.5 ppg) in points off TOs.
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 the next nine games, the Lady Bulldogs owned a 155-130 (+2.8 ppg) edge before Auburn's massive 34-12 (+22) margin last Sunday.
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 five of six games including the Lady Bulldogs' first four SEC dates.
That marked the first time the Lady Bulldogs were not ranked by the Associated Press since the final poll of the 2010-11 campaign, snapping a streak of 50 consecutive ranked weeks.
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 592 weekly AP polls, or 86.0 percent of those released. Of those, Georgia was featured in the top-10 of 268 polls, 45.3 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.
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