During the 2009-2010 season – Mark Fox’s first year as the Dawgs’ coach – Georgia (13-16; 4-11) won five conference games, reinvigorating a UGA basketball fan base that had seen the previous team win three SEC games the year before (and just four the year before that). Georgia’s future looked awful bright with the superstar sophomore duo of Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie returning for their junior seasons.
The 2010-2011 season put Georgia basketball back on the college map as the Dawgs went 9-7 in the SEC and earned at at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
This season – Coach Fox’s third as head coach – has been slightly more tumultuous, with Georgia sporting a 4-11 conference record, just one spot above Saturday’s opponent – South Carolina – in the conference standings.
However, should the Dawgs hold serve and win this game in Stegeman, Georgia would once again finish with five conference wins, equaling the number from two years ago.
How in the world has this season’s UGA team managed to put themselves in a position to win as many SEC contests as a team that featured Thompkins, Leslie, Jeremy Price, Chris Barnes and Albert Jackson?
The answer, my Bulldog basketball friends, is senior Gerald Robinson, Jr.
GR2 was the missing piece from the 2009-2010 season that enabled Georgia to get over the hump and into the NCAA tournament last year. If the Dawgs did not have the explosive Tennesse native running the show throughout the 2010-2011 campaign, then they most certainly would have played in the NIT.
This season Robinson has hoisted this Bulldog team on his back and willed them to victories over Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Florida, and he has kept them in a number of games that they would have been blown out in without him.
In conference games this year, GR2 is netting 14.1 points, 4.1 assists and nearly 5 rebounds a night. He has more than lived up to his Preseason All-SEC Second-Team hype, and he is certainly deserving of some end-of-season SEC accolades.
On Saturday, Georgia will ask GR2 to do what he has done in all three previous match-ups with South Carolina – shut down point guard Bruce Ellington.
Ellington is enjoying another successful SEC season, scoring 11.9 points and dishing out 3.6 assists in league games. However, if there is one guy in this league that has had his number the last two seasons it has been Gerald Robinson. In three games against the Bulldogs’ senior point guard, Ellington has accumulated a total of just 16 points on 6 of 32 shooting from the floor.
Another similar defensive performance on Ellington by Robinson on Saturday and Georgia should be in good shape, assuming the team that shows up tomorrow has a bit more energy than the one that lost 57-56 in Columbia last month.
Despite the fact that the Dawgs are coming off of a sound whipping in Lexington, and they will be playing on just thirty-something hours of rest, I expect to see a resilient effort out of Coach Mark Fox’s team tomorrow as they pursue their fifth SEC victory.
Georgia needs a win tomorrow in the worst way so that they can avoid being swept by 2-win South Carolina, earn their 5th conference win, shake off Thursday night’s debacle and finally, give themselves a bit of positive momentum heading into next week’s conference tournament.