Coach Mark Fox’s Georgia Bulldog (6-8; 0-1) team has had roughly 48 hours to lick their wounds and try to regroup after receiving a 77-44 shellacking at the hands of the Florida Gators in Gainesville last Wednesday.
The silver lining in the loss to the Gators is that it was pretty much the result that was expected.
However, when UGA takes the court on Saturday against Mississippi State (6-7; 1-0), the Dawgs should feel a sense of urgency to protect home court and get a win because a loss could set the tone for what could end up being a dismal season.
Georgia’s performance in their season-opener sent them right back down to the basement of the latest ESPN SEC Power Rankings – no real shocker there.
Mississippi State, who was projected to finish last in the conference prior to the start of the season, currently sits at the 11th spot in the SEC ranks. For all the struggles that the maroon Dawgs have had so far this year, they did win their first conference game 56-54 over South Carolina, marking the team’s third win in the last four games. While the Bulldogs have gotten out to a slow start, much of that can be attributed to the fact that they were playing without star junior guard Jalen Steele, who fractured his wrist earlier in the season. Steele returned to the lineup two weeks ago, and his team has won 2 of 3 games with him netting 10 ppg during that same stretch.
This particular match-up may not be suitable for basketball fans that enjoy offense, as both State and UGA are scoring towards the bottom-tier of the country’s teams at 62.5 ppg and 59.4 ppg, respectively (Georgia is now 321st in the nation in that category).
MSU’s leaders on offense – along with Steele – are sophomore big Roquez Johnson and freshman Fred Thomas, who are both averaging double-figures in points per game.
The Dawgs play at #10 Missouri next Wednesday, meaning that if they hope to avoid an 0-3 start to conference play it would behoove them to get a win in Athens on Saturday.
With the way that Georgia handled (or did not handle) the Gators’ full-court pressure earlier this week, I would not at all be surprised to see MSU look to play this game up-tempo.
Hopefully Fox’s team will be prepared with a better response than what we saw in Gainesville.