Georgia’s five-game winning streak was snapped by Alabama in Athens on Tuesday night in a game that featured abhorrent offensive play by both teams, even by SEC standards. The Dawgs managed just 31% from the floor (to Bama’s 39%) en route to the 52-45 loss.
While Georgia’s recent run through its conference schedule did wonders to restore some confidence to a team that was badly lacking it (and it was a pretty fun ride), the Dawgs were not exactly going up against “Murder’s Row”. All of the opponents that UGA toppled – Texas A&M (twice), Auburn, South Carolina and Tennessee – over that stretch currently have sub-.500 SEC records. Georgia’s most significant win of the season thus far is probably the one in College Station against an Aggie team with an RPI of 64 (the highest of any team UGA has beaten).
On Saturday night, the Dawgs will play a Mississippi Rebel team that is in the midst of one of its better seasons in recent years. The Rebels are 18-6 overall and 7-4 in the conference. Ole Miss possesses one of the most prolific offenses in all of college basketball, scoring nearly 80 points a night, which is fifth-best in the country. In league games, the Rebels are scoring more than any other team in the SEC at 74.8 a contest.
The two catalysts propelling Ole Miss’s offense are JUCO transfer Marshall Henderson and senior Murphy Holloway. Henderson is atop of the conference scoring leaders in SEC play, netting 21 points a night. He is a serious threat from beyond the arc, where he making nearly 4 three-pointers a night in league games.
At 6’7″, Murphy Holloway is Ole Miss’s version of Brandon Morris, except add 30 pounds of muscle and three years of experience. Like Morris, Holloway is comfortable handling the ball away from the basket and creating for himself. In SEC play, Holloway has been solid as a rock, scoring 13 points and hauling in nearly 8 boards a night.
Speaking of the boards, Ole Miss snags almost 14 offensive rebounds a game in conference, meaning that Georgia’s bigs are going to have to work hard to keep the Rebels off the glass in Oxford.
On paper, this game does not look like a very winnable opportunity for the Dawgs – playing a highly-efficient offense on the road does not sound like a recipe for a UGA win.
However, if Coach Mark Fox wants his bunch to separate themselves from the bottom half of SEC teams, then occasionally they are going to have to find ways to win games like this against quality opponents.
Despite Tuesday’s setback against the Tide, a win at Ole Miss could send UGA into a tie for third or fourth place in the league.