Finally – an opportunity to write about the Georgia Bulldogs in 2012 following a win!
The Dawgs victory over Tennessee on Wednesday marked their first win over a team from a major conference since beating Southern Cal back on December 17, 2011. USC has dropped 7 of 8 games since that loss, making them an ugly 5-14 on the season. I’m not certain where the victory over the Trojans ranks on Georgia’s 2011-2012 resume, but following the win the Dawgs proceeded to sleepwalk through a slate of games that included Mercer, Furman, Winthrop and Deleware State (with Mercer being the only team in that bunch with a winning record).
The point being that UGA didn’t exactly thrive off of the success earned in Los Angeles.
But with a new year comes new opportunity, and this Saturday that opportunity stands in the form of the Mississippi Rebels (12-6; 2-2), who are fresh off a 75-68 upset of in-state rival #15 Mississippi State. Ole Miss’ RPI stands at a solid 41 after their win over the maroon Bulldogs (the red Bulldogs’ RPI is sitting at 108).
If Georgia fans have trouble seeing all the action on the court Saturday it could be because the Rebel players are blocking their view. Coach Andy Kennedy’s roster doesn’t feature a player shorter than 6’4″, which is probably why he’s coaching the best rebounding team in SEC at nearly 44 boards per game.
Ole Miss has been particularly tenacious on the offensive glass where they are bringing down a conference-leading 17.5 rebounds per game. The Rebels sport an offensive-rebound percentage of nearly 45%, meaning that they are grabbing almost half of the missed shots that they toss up. Georgia, who ranks 11th in the SEC in defensive rebounds at just over 18 per contest, had better lace up their shoes and be ready to block out or they might get eaten alive.
The main rebounding culprits for Coach Kennedy are juniors Reginald Buckner and Murphy Holloway, who are averaging 11.3 and 10.7 rebounds per game, respectively (making them 1 and 2 in the conference in that category). Buckner, who is the Ole Miss all-time shot-block leader, has been swatting 3 shot attempts per game so far in SEC play. He and Holloway, along with guards Nick Williams and Jarvis Summers, are all scoring in double-figures against conference competition, with Williams leading the team at 13.5 ppg.
Fortunately for Georgia Coach Mark Fox forwards Donte Williams and Nemanja Djurisic has done a nice job of picking up the scoring void left by the slumping guards Dustin Ware and Vincent Williams. Through four SEC games, Ware and Williams are netting only 5.5 and 2.5 points per night, respectively – numbers that are well below their season averages.
Donte and Nemi have really started to solidify themselves in the paint for Georgia in conference play. Both Williams and the Montenegro Express are contributing 9.5 points and nearly 5 rebounds for Coach Fox against SEC competition.
Georgia will be looking to carry the momentum from their win over Tennessee into Stegeman on Saturday in hopes of starting their first SEC win-streak of the year.
If the Dawgs manage to pull out a victory it sure would serve to boost their confidence heading into next Tuesday’s home matchup with #2 Kentucky.