Friday night’s game between the Georgia Bulldogs (7-5) and the Furman Paladins (4-6) should be extra special for reserve forward Connor Nolte. The Bulldogs‘ senior wing played his first two years of college basketball for the Paladins, where he started 15 games in two seasons.
Nolte is coming off of one of the better games of his career at Georgia, scoring 11 points and going a perfect 3 for 3 from beyond the arc – the timing couldn’t be better for a match-up with his former school.
At this point, one would assume that Connor is satisfied with his decision to transfer to UGA – he’s seen a full season of SEC competition, played in an NCAA tournament game and is slowly making himself a consistent role player on this year’s Bulldog team.
Furman was projected to finish last in their half of the Southern Conference, and they are currently on pace to fulfill that prophecy as they are out to an 0-2 start in SoCon play. The Paladins have beaten just one team with a winning record this year – the Columbia Lions.
However, Furman’s sluggish 6-5 start is somewhat misleading as the team had to play its first 9 games without senior forward Bryson Barnes, who was dealing with eligibility issues. In his first two games back, the Atlanta native is averaging 18 ppg and 8 rpg, including 26 points in a win over Western Kentucky last Saturday.
The Paladins are fresh off of a 75-71 road loss to Presbyterian, a team that won at Cincinnati back on November 19th.
Joining Barnes in the paint is fellow senior big man Brandon Sebirumbi, who stands at 6’9″ and weighs 230 pounds. Sebirumbi is averaging 9.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, but his offensive numbers have been significantly better since Barnes returned to the lineup. In the last two games, he is scoring 15 points per contest now that he has another scoring threat on the opposite block.
Furman’s strength in the paint is definitely the biggest concern for the Bulldogs on Friday night.
Georgia seems to be most successful this season when they are pushing the ball up and down the court. Without much of an inside presence, UGA’s halfcourt offense has been rather ineffective (and at times very hard to watch).
The Dawgs‘ guards – Gerald Robinson, Kentavious-Caldwell Pope, Dustin Ware and Vincent Williams – should be in all out run mode on Friday night, looking to press the tempo at any opportunity.
The Bulldogs are 3-1 this year when making more than 40% of their three-point attempts, with the lone loss coming in the game at Colorado (a game that UGA let slip away in the second half). Georgia’s success on the court is dependent upon their ability to knock down shots from beyond the arc.
The game against the Paladins marks the last one before Christmas as well as a chance for UGA to extend its win streak to three games. Hopefully Coach Mark Fox can keep this bunch focused so that they can continue to build a little momentum from that win over USC last Saturday.