The Georgia Bulldogs (7-2) will take on the High Point Panthers (5-4) on Tuesday night in Athens, GA.
According to Rivals.com in this year’s preview of the Big South Conference, the Panthers “could be sleepers in the league race.” High Point was projected to finish 5th in the conference, however, they are currently tied with Liberty for first with a 2-0 record in league play.
The heart and soul of this High Point team is its backcourt, led by preseason Big South Player of the Year Nick Barbour. Barbour, a junior guard named to the All-League First Team, is a streaky shooter that is currently leading his team in scoring with 16.8 points per game. He is not afraid to shoot it either, averaging nearly six three-point attempts a night while connecting on 31.3% of them.
Joining Barbour in the backcourt is fellow junior Shay Shine, who is the only other Panther scoring in double-figures at 12.9 points per game. Shine is freakishly athletic – check out this dunk from a game earlier this season – and will definitely provide a challenge for Georgia guard Dustin Ware.
The Panthers do not start a player over 6’6″, and other than 6’8″ freshman Travis Elliott (12 minutes per game) they do not have anyone coming off the bench over 6’6″ either. This lack of size on the inside has caused problems for the Panthers – in their four losses this season, they have posted a -7.25 rebounding margin.
When High Point gets killed on the glass, they get killed on the scoreboard as well.
Enter Stage Right: Trey Thompkins (6’9″ 247 lbs), Jeremy Price (6’8″ 264lbs) and Chris Barnes (6’8″ 240lbs).
Mark Fox has 751 lbs of power forward at his disposal to unleash against this smaller High Point team.
Barnes is coming off one of his best games as a Bulldog, pouring in 12 points on 5 of 6 shooting from the floor in Georgia‘s win over Arkansas State last Saturday. He looked very strong in the paint on offense, establishing great interior position and getting most of his shots right under the basket.
Trey Thompkins should have a mismatch at just about every moment on offense in this game.
If High Point comes out in a man defense, Gerald Robinson, Jr. and Dustin Ware should be prepared to feed their bigs the ball inside as much as possible.
If the Panthers show Georgia a 2-3 zone (which they may given their size disadvantage), GR2, Ware and Sherrard Brantley need to be ready to knock down open looks – this could open things up on the inside as well.
It all sounds so simple.
How well will the Dawgs execute?