Nov. 22, 2013
Lady Bulldogs Host Arch rival
The No. 23/21 Georgia Lady Bulldogs continue a busy six-game homestand to open the 2013-14 campaign on Sunday afternoon when they host Georgia Tech at Stegeman Coliseum in a 2:00 p.m. matinee. The contest is Georgia's fifth home date since the season opener two weeks ago and the next-to-last in a half-dozen home outings to open the year.
The Lady Bulldogs have displayed different forms of growth en route to a 4-0 start. Georgia grinded out a 45-30 win over Presbyterian. The Lady Bulldogs then displayed a lethal transition game in defeating Mercer, a 20-win team a year ago with four returning starters. The win over Ohio State is the type of "W" over a perennial NCAA Tournament participant that may pay dividends in March. Against Furman, in-game adjustments helped Georgia turn a 17-point deficit into a 24-point victory.
Officially, Tiaria Griffin, who missed the season's first three games, is Georgia's leading scorer at 21.0 ppg after posting that career-best tally against Furman.
Georgia Tech is 2-1, with decisive victories over Coppin State and Western Carolina and an 11-point setback at No. 4 Tennessee.
Freshman Kaela Davis paces the Yellow Jackets both offensively and on the boards with a gaudy 22.7 ppg scoring average and 8.7 rpg. Aaliyah Whiteside and Sydney Wallace also sport double-figure scoring averages of 13.0 ppg and 12.0 ppg, respectively.
The Starting Five
- UGA is 31-4 all-time against GT, including a 13-0 mark in Athens
- UGA and GT both were NCAA Tournament teams for six straight seasons from 2007-12 before GT missed out on last year's bracket
- UGA used a 26-0 run to turn a 17-point deficit into a 24-point win over Furman in its most recent outing
- Tiaria Griffin recorded career highs of 21 points and six steals in the victory over the Paladins
- Khaalidah Miller became Lady Bulldog Basketball's 35th 1,000-point career scorer during the Furman game
|Georgia Lady Bulldogs||Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets|
|1||Khaalidah Miller||11.0||7.5||G||15||Tyaunna Marshall||8.5||5.5|
|(5-9; Sr.; Atlanta, Ga.)||(5-9; Sr.; Upper Marlboro, Md.)|
|31||Erika Ford||10.5||4.8||G||2||Aaliyah Whiteside||13.0||4.7|
|(5-9; Jr.; Atlanta, Ga.)||(6-0; Soph.; Memphis, Tenn.)|
|20||Shacobia Barbee||10.0||9.3||G||3||Kaela Davis||22.7||8.7|
|(5-10; Soph.; Murfreesboro, Tenn.)||(6-2; Fr.; Suwanee, Ga.)|
|15||Krista Donald||9.5||10.3||F||54||Roddreka Rogers||6.0||8.3|
|(5-11; Jr.; Lake, Miss.)||(6-0; Soph.; Charlotte, N.C.)|
|13||Merritt Hempe||7.8||4.3||F||24||Shayla Bivins||2.0||2.3|
|(6-2; So.; Fredericksburg, Va.)||(6-5; R-Sr.; Jacksonville, Fla.)|
Keeping an eye on...entering today's game:
Khaalidah Miller is...
- 13 points from No. 34 Anne Marie Armstrong among UGA's career leaders
- 36 points from No. 33 Saudia Roundtree among UGA's career leaders
- 13 3-point FGs from No. 4 Kelly Miller among UGA's career leaders
- 15 3-point FGs from No. 3 Kim Berry among UGA's career leaders
- 128 3-point FGAs from No. 2 Kedra Holland-Corn among UGA's career leaders
On his team's Play to date...
"This stretch has given a young basketball team the chance to be comfortable while it's trying to grow. There have been some things that we've established and there are some things that we are yet to get to, but you never go into a season thinking you're going to bat 1000 on every objective with every time line. I have been pleased that they seem to have the ability to focus on a daily basis. That's something that's somewhat unusual for a young team."
On his team's performance against Ohio State...
"It was a lot of things. It was certainly a challenge. Ohio State is a talented team and a well-coached team. It's not just about talent, they have the right pieces in the right places. They have size inside that is very capable. They have excellent play at the point. They have excellent shooters around the perimeter. They're a tough proposition. It really was a great win...a gutty win." "
Series history with the Jackets
The Lady Bulldogs hold a 31-4 lead in their all-time series with Georgia Tech, including a 13-0 mark in Athens.
Georgia won the first 24 meetings - and generally by a wide margin - from 1975-2001 before the Yellow Jackets rallied for a 65-61 upset at Philips Arena in Dec. 2002. Since then, the Lady Bulldogs are 7-3 versus Tech.
Hassell, who was a member of the WNBA's Indiana Fever last summer and is currently playing professionally in Israel on the same team as Ashley Houts, simply owned Georgia Tech in the past two match-ups.
Last season, Hassell poured in 22 points by connecting on 10-of-13 shots from the floor to lead No. 8 Georgia to a 60-50 win over Georgia Tech in the first-ever meeting in the Yellow Jackets' new McCamish Pavilion.
Two years ago in the most recent match-up in Athens, Hassell scored a career-high 24 points to lead No. 15 Georgia to a 75-68 victory against Georgia Tech. Hassell connected on 9-of-10 shots from the floor and 6-of-7 attempts at the line en route to her career outing.
Just to give you the complete picture: Hassell averaged 23.0 points and shot a sizzling 82.6 percent from the floor as a junior and senior against Georgia Tech.
Last Time out...
Tuesday's 72-48 win over Furman was certainly more entertaining than the final score would indicate.
The Paladins came out red hot and raced to a 17-point, 31-14 lead with 4:32 remaining in the first half. From there, the cliché "turning defense into offense" took over.
When Khaalidah Miller scored in transition with 3:46 left in the period even the most eternal of optimists would have had a difficult time finding what followed fathomable.
Georgia scored the final eight points of the half, including a layup with two seconds left on a steal and layup by Erika Ford, to cut the margin to 31-22 at the break.
The Lady Bulldogs then scored the first 18 points of the second stanza. All told, the 26-0 run covered a little more than 10 minutes of the first and second halves. The onslaught continued as Georgia eventually completed a 39-5 surge to take control.
While many jokingly asked Landers about the content of his halftime speech, he was quick to praise Furman for its early success.
"I have to give credit to Furman in the first half," Landers said. "We were expecting man-to-man (defense). That's all we've seen them play. They obviously had scouted us and thought that zone was the route for them to take tonight. In the first half, they really played it well. They had schemed it out, it was well conceived, it was well executed and it hampered us a good bit. And then when we were able to execute, we missed good shots, so consequently we're in a hole because they're shooting lights out from three. And I'm not sure we did a lot of things wrong in defending them. When we came back after the half, defense stayed at a high level, rebounding went up and they started to miss."
A Sneak Peak at the madness
If recent history is an indicator, Sunday's game will feature a pair of teams whose seasons will likely continue into NCAA Tournament play next March.
For decades, Georgia almost exclusively carried the battle flag for the Peach State into the "Big Dance." Georgia ranks No. 2 nationally in NCAA Tournament bids (30) and also ranks No. 3 in "Sweet 16s" (20) and No. 5 in both NCAA victories (55) and Final Fours (5).
Georgia Tech appeared in just two NCAA Tournaments from 1982-06 but then earned bids to six straight editions of "March Madness" from 2007-12 before missing out on the bracket last season.
Griffin back with a big bang
Tiaria Griffin opened her sophomore year with a career-high 21 points against Furman. The Monticello, Miss., native's previous best performance was 20 points against Alabama on Jan. 10 last season.
A second career high contributed greatly to the second 20-point outburst of her career. Griffin notched six steals - doubling her previous best of three thefts against Missouri and Lipscomb - that resulted in several easy layups at the other end of the floor.
Griffin missed the first three games due to a suspension. Marjorie Butler, who also was suspended for the first three games, did not play versus Furman due to an injured shoulder.
More from the Magnolia state
Krista Donald, who hails from Lake, Miss., recorded her second straight double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds against Furman. Donald also had 10 points and a career-high 16 boards against Ohio State.
Donald now has as many double-doubles in her last two outings as she had in her first 50 contests in a Georgia uniform.
Andy Landers had high praise for the junior following the Ohio State victory.
"The second half, that's like All-American type stuff," Landers said. "That 20 minutes was really terrific. This kid fought her tail off. She battled supremely with much taller, longer people than she was and she won the battle.."
Donald hauled in 12 of her career-high 16 rebounds after intermission against the Buckeyes and was the catalyst behind Georgia turning a -6 rebounding margin at halftime into a +3 tally on the final box.
And she did so against stiff competition. The 5-11 Donald was competing against an Ohio State rotation with four players 6-2 or taller.
Miller tops millennium milestone
Khaalidah Miller became Lady Bulldog Basketball's 35th 1,000-point scorer during the victory over Furman.
Miller scored 12 points against the Paladins, her third double-figure output of the season and 52nd of her career.
The Atlanta native enters the Georgia Tech game this afternoon with 1,002 points, just 13 shy of former teammate Anne Marie Armstrong for the No. 34 spot among UGA's career scoring leaders.
Barbee picks up where she left off
Shacobia Barbee capped a stellar season a year ago with a spectacular postseason run. She was voted by league coaches to both the SEC's All-Freshman and All-Defensive teams and then became the first Lady Bulldog freshman to earn NCAA Tournament All-Regional honors since Teresa Edwards in 1983.
After missing the season opener, Barbee picked up right where she left off.
The Murfreesboro, Tenn., native christened her second season in Athens with a 15-point, 15-rebound double-double against Mercer. She followed that with a eight points, nine rebounds and team highs of five assists and two steals against Ohio State.
Dating back to last season, Barbee now has double-doubles three of her last nine outings (14 points and 10 boards against Cal in the NCAA "Elite Eight" and 11 points and 10 rebounds versus LSU in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament).
Barbee's 15 rebounds versus the Mercer bested her career-high of 12 boards in the Lady Bulldogs' thrilling upset of No. 4 Stanford in last year's "Sweet 16".
November 14 has a new name
Merritt Hempe scored a career-high 13 points against Mercer on Nov. 14, topping the previous mark of 11 she set last season against Presbyterian on...wait for it...Nov. 14. Unofficially, Nov. 14 is now known within Lady Bulldog circles as "Hem-pee DAY!"...spoken with the same tone and emphasis as the camel in the popular television commercial pertaining to Wednesdays.
McCaskill Joins Freshman Starter list
Andy Landers continued his long-standing penchant for putting freshman starters on the floor during Georgia's 2013-14 season opener against Presbyterian.
Sydnei McCaskill got the nod to against the Blue Hose to become the 73rd freshman to start for the Lady Bulldogs during Landers' 35 seasons in Athens and the 23rd to do so in her collegiate debut.
McCaskill not only started but played all 40 minutes. She and Coco Miller are the only two freshmen in Lady Bulldog history to start their debut and play all 40 minutes.
"I thought Sydnei looked comfortable, especially in the second half," Landers said. "She might have been a little bit tight to start the game but she should've been. The longer she played, the more comfortable and confident she looked in what we were doing."
Six current Lady Bulldogs - senior Khaalidah Miller; juniors Erika Ford and Krista Donald; and sophomores Shacobia Barbee, Tiaria Griffin and Merritt Hempe - all started as freshmen. Barbee is one of the 23 to start an opener.
Miller equals three career marks
Senior Khaalidah Miller began her final collegiate campaign with a solid outing, equaling a trio of her career-high performances.
Miller hauled in 11 rebounds against Presbyterian, tying the tally she collected against both Ole Miss on Jan. 22, 2012 and Appalachian State on Dec. 22, 2011.
Miller also matched her career high with six assists, her same number of baskets-to-be against South Carolina on Feb. 16, 2012
In addition, Miller tied her career high with 40 minutes played, the 13th time in her career at Georgia that she has logged that many MP.
UGA Ranked by AP for 500th Time
Georgia was ranked No. 24 team in the preseason edition of the Associated Press poll, the 500th AP poll appearance all-time for both UGA and Andy Landers.
"Five-hundred is a big number," Landers said. "I think I'm most proud of the consistency we've been able to maintain and the high level of play that has led to us being considered worthy of ranking all those times. Our university, athletic administration, staff, players and everyone associated with our program - and this year's team is no different - have committed themselves to competing at the highest level. To be recognized as one of the top teams in the country basically week after week after week for 30-plus years is certainly a reward for all that hard work and commitment."
The Lady Bulldogs first appeared in the Associate Press poll in the 1981-82 preseason, the first season women's basketball came under the auspices of the NCAA and the sixth campaign the AP compiled a weekly college women's hoops poll.
Despite a five-year gap prior to the first ranking, Georgia and Landers now rank No. 2 in all-time appearances by a program and a coach.
Now up to 502 weeks ranked
Since 1981-82, the Lady Bulldogs have been included in 502 of 578 polls, or 86.9 percent of those released. Georgia also has 268 top-10 appearances, 46.4 percent of polls in that span.
USA Today Likes UGA A little more
Georgia No. 22 in the preseason USA Today coaches poll released on Oct. 29. In addition, Athlon and Lindy's tabbed UGA No. 14 and No. 19, respectively, in their preseason rankings.
"I'm not the least bit concerned with preseason polls," Andy Landers said. "I'm concerned about this team creating its own identity. To this point, I'm very pleased with that development."