The Georgia Bulldogs (1-0) will play the Youngstown State Penguins (1-0) on Monday night in Athens in what is to be considered the opening round of the Legends Classic.
Regardless of the outcomes of either of Georgia’s games against Youngstown and Southern Mississippi this week, the Dawgs will be traveling to Brooklyn, New York to take part in the four-team semifinals a week from Monday.
Georgia outlasted a less talented Jacksonville team for its first win of the season on Friday night in a game in which the Bulldogs were plagued by rampant turnovers and poor rebounding. On Monday night, however, UGA should receive a much stiffer test from the Penguins, and if the Dawgs have not found a way to clean things up they could be in for a bit of a shock.
Youngstown State, projected to finish fourth in the Horizon League, won its first game of the year on the road at George Washington, a team that UGA will host in Athens on March 6th. The Penguins boast probably the strongest backcourt in the Horizon League, featuring preseason First-Team All-Horizon League point guard Kendrick Perry and two-guard Blake Allen, who was named the “League’s Best Shooter” by Yahoo Sports.
In his team’s win over the Colonials, Allen led the Penguins with 19 points, connecting on 4 of his 8 three-point attempts. The senior made over 42% of his shots from beyond the arc a year ago, meaning that the Dawgs’ guards had better be aware of where this young man is on the court at all times.
Vincent Williams turned in a solid effort on Friday night for Coach Fox, dishing out 6 assists to just 3 turnovers in 27 minutes of play. The senior was tenacious on the defensive end as well, creating 3 steals and helping to force Jacksonville’s star point guard Russell Powell into 5 turnovers. For Georgia to be successful on Monday night, the Dawgs will need a similar effort out of Williams on the Penguins’ Kendrick Perry. Perry, an explosive point guard with a lot of athleticism, averaged nearly 17 points a game last season as a sophomore.
Coach Fox has yet to release any details on the status of junior big Donte Williams, who was held out of the season opener due to disciplinary issues. If Georgia has to go again on Monday night without its strongest post player, Fox will need John Florveus, Tim Dixon and John Cannon to step up and provide some additional offense in the paint. On Friday night, this trio of bigs combined for 16 points and 12 rebounds to go along with a perfect shooting percentage from the floor.
Though neither of the games this week will impact Georgia’s date with Indiana on the 19th, I’m sure that Coach Fox and his team would like to take care of business at home in the Legends Classic’s “opening round”.