Disclaimer: I didn’t watch but the final 5 minutes of last night’s battle with the mighty Morehouse Maroon Tigers. I had a dinner engagement that I couldn’t avoid.
I did, however, check my phone sporadically under the tablecloth throughout the evening, and I was stunned to see that Georgia (5-2) only led by 6 at the half, and that it took them nearly the entire game to put Division II Morehouse away. The Dawgs padded their win column with the 86-72 victory, though it does nothing for their RPI status.
UGA’s next opponent, Marquette, played on Wednesday night as well. The Golden Eagles destroyed Western Carolina – a Division I team – 90 to 44. Let that sink in for a moment. At the half, Marquette was already up by 38 points.
One could argue that this UGA team has played to the level of its competition so far this season. Georgia won games that were closer than they should have been against UNC-Asheville, Furman and Morehouse, and the Dawgs lost fairly tight contests to both Clemson and Kansas. Whatever the analysis, I think that the consensus among most UGA fans is that by this point we expected something slightly better.
Coach Mark Fox’s team will have another shot on Sunday at knocking off a Power 5 conference opponent, something Georgia has failed to do in its first two tries. After Sunday, the Dawgs will only have two such opportunities with games remaining against Georgia Tech and Texas. If UGA wants to dance come March, they must win some of these more challenging out of conference matchups because the Dawgs are not going to be selected for the NCAA Tournament based on their SEC merits alone (UGA went 12-6 in the SEC during the 2013-2014 campaign and wound up in the NIT).
On Sunday, Georgia will host a Marquette bunch that is led by former Duke floor-slapper Steve Wojciechowski, who is in his 3rd year at the helm. His team is currently 5-2 and has dropped games to both Michigan and Pitt. The Dawgs will actually be the Golden Eagles’ second SEC opponent thus far this year as Marquette whipped Vanderbilt 95-71 in its season opener.
Coach Wojo’s team is led by 6’11” senior center Luke Fischer, who should keep Derek Ogbeide and Mike Edwards preoccupied for most of Sunday. Fischer is averaging over 14 points and 6 boards a night. Both of the Marquette guards stand 6’5″, and each of them – Jajuan Johnson and Haanif Cheatham – score in double-digits nightly, averaging 14 points apiece. The Golden Eagles play at an up and down pace, pushing the tempo as much as possible. So far, their offense has been quite prolific, racking up 87 points a night while shooting over 50% from the floor and nearly 39% from beyond the arc. My guess is that Coach Fox will do his best to have his team slow this game down to a nearly grinding halt in an attempt to corral Marquette’s high-octane offense.
It’s still too early to say that Georgia has to have to this win, but they sure could use it.