This Saturday’s slate of college basketball games offers fans some pretty intriguing match ups – #14 Miami @ #19 N.C. State, #16 Ole Miss @ #4 Florida and #1 Michigan @ #3 Indiana.
Somewhere much further down the prestige ladder lies the game in Columbia, South Carolina, which features the Gamecocks hosting the Georgia Bulldogs (9-11, 3-4). While this game is virtually irrelevant to most college basketball observers, it should carry a huge amount of weight amongst UGA supporters.
The Dawgs, who began conference play 0-3, have stormed back over the past several weeks, winning 3 of four games. Georgia has put themselves in a position to reach a .500 record in the SEC with a win over the Cocks on Saturday.
South Carolina is on the heels of an embarrassing 75-36 drubbing at the hands of the mighty Florida Gators, and the Cocks will no doubt be looking to exact some revenge on the Bulldogs this Saturday. Fortunately for Georgia, they will be facing a Gamecock team that has yet to find much of an identity.
First-year Carolina coach Frank Martin has been dealing with the growing pains of starting two freshmen bigs – Michael Carrera and Laimonas Chatkevicius – as well as trying to win with his star player – Bruce Ellington – slumping. Ellington, a junior who has been the face of this program’s basketball team for the past few years, has been struggling mightily over the past five games, averaging just 8.4 points and hitting only 16 of his 54 field goal attempts.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, on the other hand, has been surging offensively during the Dawgs recent hot streak. Over the past four games KCP is netting 20 points and nearly 8 boards a night. Even more impressive is that fact that Pope has been putting up these scoring totals while taking just 12 shots per game. While I appreciate KCP’s patience and his ability to “let the game come to him”, considering the collective offensive options on this Dawgs’ team I think I would rather see Pope take a few more field goal attempts each game.
As far as SEC road games go for Georgia, Saturday’s match-up with the Gamecocks presents a fairly winnable opportunity. While winning in Columbia is certainly not a given, playing at South Carolina looks a lot better than playing at Arkansas, Ole Miss, Tennessee or Alabama right now.