The Pepperdine Waves came into the 2009-2010 season returning all five starters from last year’s team that finished 9-23, including sophomore sensation Keon Bell (who is averaging a robust 20.6 points a contest).
Several experts projected the Waves to finish as high as fifth in the West Coast Conference this season, a level of optimism that hasn’t been seen at Pepperdine since they last won the conference back in 2002 and earned a berth into the NCAA Tournament.
So far, so not good.
The Waves are sitting at 4-10, and were riding a 7-game losing streak before beating a Rick Majerulus-less Utah Utes team last week (in years past, this might have been considered a “quality win”…this year, not so much – Utah is 5-7 and a shell of its former self). During the Waves’ streak they were surrendering 80.1 points per game…in other words, their defense has been slightly “porous” lately.
Actually, Pepperdine’s defense (or lack there of) has been missing all season as they are allowing opponents to light them up for 74.2 points a night.
Furthermore, Pepperdine is winless on the road in four attempts (and this game is being played a LONG ways from Malibu, CA).
It hasn’t been all bad for the Waves though.
They do have a bona-fide superstar/future NBA-er in Bell. He is a very athletic guard that takes the ball to the rim and rebounds well (check out this link I found of him dunking over five teammates at their preseason “Midnight Madness” event – pretty impressive hops).
This Pepperdine team is doing an excellent job of rebounding the ball, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me considering how bad their defense has been. The Waves are 13th in the country in offensive rebounding, and are averaging 41.9 boards per game (UGA only averages 35.6).
The Waves really like to jack it up from behind the arc, averaging over 17 three-point attempts a game. However, they do shoot a decent 35% from 3pt range, with Sophomore G/F Dane Suttle, Jr. leading the way at a whopping 45.8% (averaging 10.8 pts ). Hopefully Mark Fox has the team focused on contesting shots and rebounding (I am thinking we could see some of that extended 3-2 zone defense that UGA has been showing already this year).
What Georgia needs to do to win the game:
Don’t Look Ahead – New Year’s Eve, a trip to Missouri, Georgia Tech, SEC play beginning…get the drift? There is a lot to look forward to for this UGA basketball team, and on top of that they have a 4-10 team coming into Athens (meaning I bet the Dawgs feel like they should win this game). In my opinion, the challenge going into this game for Georgia is similar to the Florida Atlantic game – stay focused on the task at hand and don’t get caught looking ahead.
Thompkins (luckily) played lights-out against FAU and carried Georgia to a win – but who else played well? What if Trey hadn’t scored a career high 35 points? Everybody needs to be focused on this Pepperdine team and finishing out 2009 strong.
Georgia should win this game, but that doesn’t mean that the Waves are going to just come into Athens and lay down. I want to see the same physicality from the start that we saw against the Illini. I would also like to see Travis Leslie bounce back from a sub par performance against FAU.
On a side note – Pepperdine coach Tom Asbury was the head coach at Kansas State while Mark Fox was an assistant there as well…hopefully the student has become the master.
I will be heading up to Athens for this one…anyone else? I think there is another $5 ticket promo here.
There isn’t a televised broadcast of the game so if you aren’t going you’ll have to go with Scott Howard and Mark Slonaker on 750AM.