The Georgia Bulldogs (3-0) are set to play the #22 California Bears (3-0) tonight at 9:45pm in the CBE Classic in Kansas City, Missouri (the game will be televised on ESPN2). After games against Wofford, Bowling Green and South Dakota State, the Cal Bears should present a much more formidable challenge to Coach Mark Fox’s young team.
The oddsmakers in Las Vegas are expecting a close contest in tonight’s matchup, pegging the Bulldogs as a mere 6-point underdog.
Cal was picked to finish second in the newly-aligned Pac 12 prior to the start of the season, and the strength of this team resides in its backcourt, where the Bears boast two preseason All-Pac-12 First Team guards in senior Jorge Gutierrez and sophomore Allen Crabbe. Crabbe is pacing Cal through three games this year with 16.7 ppg, while Gutierrez is chipping in 13.3 ppg as the team’s second-leading scorer.
As a team, Cal has been red-hot from beyond the arc so far this season, knocking down over 40% of its three-point attempts.
Georgia’s Donte Williams could have his hands full in the paint tonight trying to defend Cal senior Harper Kamp. The Bears’ big man is a load inside, standing at 6’8″ and weighing nearly 250 pounds. In the team’s first three games, Kamp has almost averaged a double-double, netting 9.7 ppg and nabbing 8.3 rpg.
Despite the Bears lofty preseason expectations and national ranking, Georgia does actually match-up fairly well with Cal. Gerald Robinson, Jr. and KCP will be asked to defend Gutierrez and Crabbe, and if the Bulldogs guards are up to the challenge UGA should have an opportunity to hang around in this game. GR2 and KCP are leading the Dawgs in scoring at 13.7 ppg and 13.3 ppg, respectively.
Robinson has played pretty well up to this point, but if Georgia is going to have success this season and surprise some teams, GR2 must assert himself more on offense. Robinson, a preseason All-SEC Second Team selection, possesses a lightening quick first step to go along with tremendous speed. He is obviously a fairly unselfish player by nature, but for the betterment of UGA basketball this year, I would like to see GR2 being a little more aggressive when Georgia has the ball because of his ability to create offense.
Finally, Georgia as a team has shot the ball atrociously so far this year, hitting only 40.4% from the field and an even uglier 23.9% from beyond the arc. The Dawgs, who lack much of an inside scoring presence, will not be able to continue winning if their outside shooting does not improve – being undersized and lacking a perimeter game is a combination that does not bode well for teams in basketball.
Other than that, the cream puffs are out of the way and now the Dawgs are about to see what they are made of early in the season. Georgia will get either #25 Missouri or Notre Dame on Tuesday, depending upon the outcomes of tonight’s games, and then they travel north to take on #14 Xavier this Friday.
If the Dawgs can’t correct their rebounding and shooting issues quickly, they could find themselves sitting at 3-3 by week’s end.