Dawgs host Alabama in first SEC home game of the season

The Georgia Bulldogs (7-6, 1-0) are two days removed from pulling one of the bigger upsets of the week in the world of college basketball with their win at #21 Missouri on Wednesday.

Now UGA will see just how well they can handle success after their best victory of the season.
And if the Dawgs haven’t put the Mizzu game out of their minds come Saturday, they could find themselves in trouble when they take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in Athens this afternoon (7-7, 1-0).

Both teams won their conference openers, and they have very similar regular season records thus far. Alabama’s record is a little misleading though, considering they have played a much more difficult schedule than UGA up to this point. CBS Sportsline ranks the Tide’s schedule as the 9th hardest in the country, compared to Georgia’s SOS of 189.

Bama has lost close games (by 9 points or less) to #6 Wichita State, #16 Duke, Oklahoma, UCLA and Xavier.

In addition, the Tide possess arguably the best backcourt in the conference, led by All-SEC point guard Trevor Releford – who is scoring over 18 a game – and Retin Obasohan, who nets 13 points per night.

Georgia’s Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines will certainly be challenged on the perimeter by Releford and Obasohan. This matchup in the backcourt could dictate which team leaves Stegeman tonight with its first SEC loss of the year.

Dawgs shock Tigers in Columbia

The Georgia Bulldogs (7-6, 1-1) won an emotionally inspired game against #21 Missouri on Wednesday night, just a day after their head coach attended the funeral of his late father.  

In my opinion, this win was by far the best road win of the Mark Fox Era – the next best being a road win at Starkville two years ago in which UGA upset then-ranked #20 Mississippi State.

Last night’s game seems bigger, though.

UGA came into this contest 0-6 in contests away from Athens, and Mizzu held the nation’s longest-running home win streak at 26 games, which Georgia snapped.

The Bulldogs played with more effort last night than we have seen all season, out-rebounding the Tigers 43-34 and limiting them to under 40% from the floor as a team.  Mizzu’s star point guard, Jordan Clarkson, came into the game netting more than 19 points per game – yet the Dawgs were able to hold him to just 12 points on a frustrating 4 of 14 shooting performance.

While Charles Mann led the way with 18 points, Coach Fox also got double-digit scoring efforts from Nemanja Djurisic, Kenny Gaines and Brandon Morris, who chipped in 16, 11, and 10, respectively.

Mann relentlessly attacked the basket all night, and he scored the go-ahead bucket in the lane with 39 second left in overtime, putting his team up 65-63.  The Dawgs got a stop on the next possession, and they managed to hit enough free throws to escape Columbia with the 70-64 upset.

Neme, much like in the win over Western Carolina, seemingly took over on offense late in the game.  After scoring 9 points on all three’s in the first half, Djurisic went scoreless for the next 20 minutes.  However, Neme came alive in overtime, scoring the Dawgs’ first 7 points, including a monster three-pointer that tied the game at 63 apiece with a 1:44 remaining.

Probably the most amazing aspect of last night’s win was the fact that UGA was able to overcome another atrocious performance from the free throw line, where the team made only 13 of 26 attempts.  Had Georgia been more efficient from the charity stripe, they would have put this game away in regulation.

Regardless, this victory could not have come at a better time for a team that appeared to be fading towards the end of 2013.  

Georgia gets Alabama at home on Saturday, and the biggest question now is whether they can match last night’s effort on a consistent basis as they continue their march through the 2014 SEC schedule.

Dawgs drop another one on the road, fall 73-55 to GW

As Coach Mark Fox’s backcourt goes, so goes Georgia (6-6).

And things did not go very well for the Dawgs on Friday night in the nation’s capital against George Washington (12-2).

Sophomores Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines combined for just 19 points on 7 of 21 shooting from the floor, leaving UGA without many scoring options on the road against a quality opponent. Other than a spectacular performance off the bench by reserve Cameron Forte – who tallied 14 points and 8 rebounds in only 13 minutes of play – Georgia had only one other player eclipse the double-digit mark in scoring (Mann ended up with 11 on the night).

While the Dawgs certainly did not play at an extremely high level for the first 20 minutes, the game was tight heading into the break, with the Colonials leading 28-23. However, Coach Fox’s team could not overcome their carelessness with the basketball, turning it over a total of 20 times in Friday’s contest. George Washington capitalized on UGA’s sloppiness in the second half, converting 14 points off of Georgia turnovers.

The Colonials pushed their advantage out to 39-29 with 16:15 remaining in the game following a Kevin Larsen free throw. Georgia failed to cut the lead below double-digits for the rest of the night, and GW cruised to the 73-55 victory.

George Washington was up by as much as 21 points after a pair of free throws from Maurice Creek with 3:24 left, but then Coach Mike Lonergan pulled in the reigns for the game’s waning minutes by emptying his bench to give the backups some charity time.

Kethan Savage led all scorers with 18 points, and his teammate Maurice Creek chipped in 15 as well.

Sadly, UGA only held the lead once in this game – for about 26 seconds following a bucket from Marcus Thornton. But then GW’s Maurice Creek cruelly snatched it right back for his team, knocking down a jumper to put them up 8-7 with 16:13 remaining in the first half.

As conference play approaches, Georgia has still yet to win a game against an opponent from a larger basketball league, dropping contests to Georgia Tech, Temple, Nebraska, Colorado and George Washington. UGA’s ineptness when playing against these bigger schools does not make this season’s SEC schedule seem very inviting.