Saturday’s game against Southern California (4-7) will provide Coach Mark Fox’s Georgia Bulldogs (3-7) with another opportunity to start their first win streak of the 2012-2013 season. Georgia snapped a three-game losing streak on Tuesday with a 58-49 win over Mercer, completing the team’s sweep of the Atlantic Sun conference (with Jacksonville and ETSU being the other victims).
USC’s may be sporting a record of just 4-7, but to be fair, they have played the 15th hardest schedule in the country according to realtimerpi.com. The Trojans – much like the Dawgs – have struggled to score the basketball so far this year, netting only 63.2 ppg and shooting just 42% from the floor; unfortunately, USC holds the advantage of Georgia in both of those respective categories as the Dawgs are getting only 59 ppg, while connecting on under 40% of their field goal attempts.
What offense the Trojans have been able to muster this season is usually generated by senior point guard Jio Fontan, a preseason Second-Team All-Pac 12 selection who is scoring 8.5 points and dishing out a team-high 5.4 assists per contest. Coach Fox will need solid perimeter defense from freshman point guard Charles Mann if the Dawgs hope to slow down the USC attack.
Luckily for Fox, Mann has been starting to come into his own right in front of our eyes over the past few games. Prior to the matchups with Iona and Mercer, Mann had been playing only 13 minutes per game; against the Gaels and the Bears, Mann logged a whopping 62 minutes! Suffice to say, the freshman guard has certainly responded positively, averaging 14 points, 7 rebounds and 2.5 assists over this recent two-game span.
Georgia basketball fans have definitely had plenty to be frustrated with in regards to the start of this season: a 3-7 record, an offense that has looked overly methodical and mundane, etc., etc. However, the performances from this team in its last two games has offered a tiny sliver of hope.
In the tightly contested overtime loss to Iona, Fox deployed a younger, quicker lineup that provided a much more exciting brand of basketball. On Tuesday, that younger brand beat a Mercer team that was projected by many to win the Atlantic Sun this year.
It almost feels as if the worst is behind this team – that they bottomed out – and now the Dawgs might be on a more upwards-trending trajectory.
A win over USC on Saturday would provide a lot more support to those feelings.