2011-2012 Out-of-Conference Opponents

The Georgia Bulldogs schedule for the 2011-2012 season does not appear to be very forgiving, considering this team is losing nearly 45% of its offense to the NBA.

The Dawgs will open up the season with the CBE Classic, a preseason tournament in which Georgia will actually host regional round games between November 13 to 17.  The other three hosts in this tournament are Missouri, Notre Dame and California.  All four hosts automatically advance to the Championship Rounds (regardless of the outcomes at the regionals), so there is a very good chance that the Dawgs will get a game against a team from this year’s NCAA Tournament (either Missouri or the Irish).

On December 17th, Georgia is tentatively set to travel to Southern Cal to take on the Trojans (another 2011 tourney team).

The Dawgs should also have road games at both Colorado and Xavier (another 2011 tourney team).

Georgia now has two scholarships available with the departures of Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie.  Hopefully Coach Mark Fox can find a JUCO talent to add to next year’s roster before the summer.

At the very least, he could work on getting some rematches set up with Arkansas State, High Point, Charleston Southern and Eastern Kentucky…

34th McDonald’s All-American Game Tonight at 10pm

First off, I’d like to begin with a shout-out to Mazel Dawg, who reminded me that the McDonald’s All-American game would be airing tonight at 10pm on ESPN.

As most of you probably know, Georgia signee Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (this kid needs a nickname bad – KCP?) will be playing in the game.

It’s ironic that I almost forgot to post about the all-star game tonight, because I was literally watching Youtube videos of some of Kentavious’s highlights the last few days.  If you have time, check them out here and here.

To say that I was impressed by Caldwell-Pope would be an understatement – I was gushing.  I knew from what I had read that he was supposedly one of the best shooting prospects in the country, but what those reports failed to mention was that his range is out of this world.  In KCP’s highlights, he hits shots from five to six feet beyond the arc with consistency and relative ease.

He also appears to be a very good ball-handler, and he is not afraid to attack the rim.

At this point, nobody knows exactly what is going to happen with Trey Thompkins or Travis Leslie as far as whether they stay for their senior seasons or not.

But I am fairly confident that KCP will be a double-digit scorer in his freshman season.

Big East Bias, Travis Leslie and Recruiting

Big East Bias

After getting a record-setting eleven teams into this year’s NCAA tournament, only two remain from the Big East after the first weekend – Connecticut and Marquette.  Jay Bilas of ESPN, who has been a Big East cheerleader the entire season, now says that there wasn’t a “truly great team in the league“.

You know what other conference has two teams in the Sweet 16?  The SEC – and they only got five squads into the dance.  With Pittsburgh falling to Butler on Saturday night, the Florida Gators now have a very legitimate opportunity to reach the Final Four (assuming a win over The Jimmer and then the Butler/Wisconsin winner).

Hopefully next season the selection committee will remember that basketball is played competitively outside of the northeast region of the United States.

Travis Leslie

At this point, I don’t want to hold out hope that Trey Thompkins will return for his senior season.  He seemed so close to leaving after last year, that I can’t imagine that he returns for another one.  NBADraft.net currently has Thompkins listed as the 21st pick overall in their Mock 2011 Draft.  As much as I would love to see #33 back in Stegeman again next season, it seems like his game has developed about as far as it can at this level and he is ready to work in the NBA.

Travis Leslie, on the other hand, is a different story.  Leslie’s numbers this year were nearly identical to last season – 14.4 ppg/7.2 rpg in 2011 compared to 14.8 ppg/6.8 rpg in 2010.  However, there was a notable improvement in his jump shot, and he was not just a “dunker” this year.  Leslie made 13 three-point field goals this season, compared to only 6 the year before, and he shot a stellar 80.1% from the free throw line.

If Leslie could continue to work on his ball-handling in the off-season, I think he could have a serious offensive breakout season next year (and possibly bolster his stock into “lottery” status).

Leslie is not listed in the 2011 Mock Draft (first or second round), and on the website’s 2012 Mock Draft they have him going 31st.

He’ll obviously get tons more information regarding his stock over the next few weeks, but it could definitely be in his best interest to return to UGA for his senior season (and it would be a great lift for Coach Fox heading into the off-season).

Recruiting

Coach Mark Fox just picked up a verbal commitment from Nemanja Djurisic, a 6’8″/220lb power forward from South Kent High School in South Kent, Connecticut (by way of Podgorica, Montenegro).

ESPN’s “Bottom Line” on Djurisic:

Djurisic is solid in all aspects of his game and his biggest strength is his ability to do so many little things to help his team win games without having to score in high volume to make an impact. He projects as a solid role player at the high-major level or an impact player at the mid-major level.

Nothing to drool over, but as everyone knows, next year’s team definitely needs more big men – welcome to the Dawgs Mr. Djurisic!

Fox is targeting a couple other forwards to round out the 2011 class – Chris Bryant and Braeden Anderson.  Anderson, from Calgary, Alberta in Canada, is an intriguing prospect that stands 6’8″ and weighs 222 lbs.  He is apparently very gifted phsycially, but needs to work on his aggressiveness – he is considering Kansas, Arizona and Oklahoma (along with Georgia) so he must be fairly talented to garner such attention.

And who knows…maybe after the firing of Bruce Pearl the Dawgs might pick up a player from the Vols?

Second Round Dawg Fight

Before I could finish my cup of coffee on Monday morning, I had already read more than a few sentences on the various sports media websites regarding the Washington Huskies’ (23-10; 11-7) star point guard Isiah Thomas – the fact that he had just hit a buzzer-beater to lift his team over Arizona in the Pac-10 championship Sunday didn’t hurt his public relations either.

ESPN’s Dana O’Neil listed Thomas as one of her “Five Players to Watch” in the East Region.  So did Eric Angevine of CBS Sports.  Stewart Mandell of Sports Illustrated.com likes Isiah Thomas’ Huskies as a “Bracketbuster“.

Thomas has definitely been deserving of all the praise, though, averaging 16.8 ppg and earning Pac-10 First Team honors this season (along with teammate Matthew Bryan-Amaning).  He can shoot it well from the perimeter, knocking down nearly 36% of this three-point attempts, as well as create off the dribble – Thomas led the conference with 6.0 assists per game.

Georgia‘s Gerald Robinson is a great defender though, and he undoubtedly will be looking forward to this defensive challenge.  In the first meeting between Georgia and Kentucky, Robinson held the Cats’ star guard Brandon Knight to just 10 points – his lowest output of the season.

Knight wasn’t the only SEC point guard that Robinson frustrated this year.  Ole Miss’s Chris Warren, a First Team All-SEC selection, mustered only 9 points against the Dawgs, which was his lone single-digit scoring effort of the season.

Bruce Ellington, South Carolina’s All-SEC Freshman Team’er, tallied just 9 points in 57 total minutes against the defense of GR2 this year.

Xavier’s Tu Holloway, who ended up 20th in the nation in scoring with 20.2 ppg, didn’t connect on a single field goal until the second half of the Musketeers game in Athens earlier this season.  Holloway did finish with 18 points, but if you remember, nearly all of those came from the free throw line at the end of the game when Georgia was forced to foul – he only hit 3 of his 13 field goal attempts.

The match-up between Thomas and Robinson will be one (of two) key match-ups in this game, with the winner of it putting his team in a great position to advance.

The other fantastic match-up in this contest will be in the paint, between Georgia’s Trey Thompkins and Washington’s Matthew Bryan-Amaning.  Bryan-Amaning, a First Team All-Pac-10 selection, averaged 15.5 ppg and 8.1 rpg this year for the Huskies.  On top of having a 6’9″/240 pound frame, he also has a 7’4″ wingspan – making Bryan-Amaning very difficult to shoot over – and oh yeah, he’s also tremendously athletic.

Georgia desperately needs Trey to step up and lead in this post-season if they are going to find some success.  In the SEC tournament, Thompkins had a big game against Auburn, but in the closing minutes in the loss to Alabama he was nowhere to be found.

The Dawgs have squandered their fair share of leads late in games this season, and a large part of that has to do with a lack of leadership.  In Georgia’s first win over Kentucky in Athens, Thompkins demanded the ball during the games final five minutes – scoring baskets and knocking down clutch free throws.

In the Bama game though (like many others), Thompkins did not step up and settle everything down.  When the game is closing and things are getting tight, this Bulldog teams looks and leans on Trey for scoring and stability.

Trey Thompkins will have the national spotlight on him on Friday night when these teams tip-off approximately at 9:45pm in Charlotte, and hopefully (for Georgia’s sake) he is prepared to embrace it.

Georgia Sends Auburn Packing, Looks Ahead to Alabama

The Georgia Bulldogs (21-10; 10-7) did not allow the Auburn Tigers any grand delusions of a second overtime game between the two teams.

Instead, the Dawgs used the Tigers as a first-round tune-up and ended their season by 3:00PM (Eastern Standard Time), winning 69-51.

Auburn came into the game averaging nearly 13 offensive rebounds per SEC game this season, yet the Bulldogs gave them a taste of their own medicine this afternoon.  Georgia hit the offensive glass like a team possessed, pulling down 16 o-rebs and winning the battle of the boards by a tally of 36-22.

Georgia’s two-headed monster of Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie both finished with double-doubles, combining for 34 points and 10 rebounds.  Leslie also did a phenomenal job of limiting Auburn’s leading scorer Ernest Ross, holding him to just 4 points on 1 of 10 shooting from the floor.  In the first game between these two teams, Ross lit the Dawgs up for 30 points – Leslie was having none of that today, though.

The Dawgs jumped out to a 5-0 lead and never looked back (or relinquished the lead).  My favorite part of this game came right after the halftime break, with Georgia holding a 34-23 advantage.  Anyone who has watched this Georgia team over the past year or so knows that one of their Achilles heals has been the first five minutes after intermission.

On Thursday however, the Dawgs entered the second half with the same intensity as the first.  A healthy Thompkins hit two three’s before the first TV timeout, and Georgia was up 45-27 with 15:42 remaining in the half.  It was so refreshing to see the Bulldogs come out of the break and put their foot on the accelerator (and to keep it on it).

The Dawgs now advance to a highly anticipated second-round match-up with the SEC West regular season champion Alabama Crimson Tide.  A lot of analysts around the country are labeling this as an NCAA Tournament “Bubble Game”, with the winner earning an at-large berth and the loser – eh, who knows?  Left wondering come Sunday?

Tomorrow’s game will mark the second game between these two teams in a week, with Alabama winning the first one in Tuscaloosa last Saturday 65-57.  In that game, Bama out-rebounded and out-hustled the Dawgs, as well as forcing them into 16 turnovers.

In Georgia’s win today over Auburn, the Bulldogs were ferocious on the glass, and they turned the ball over just 7 times.

That’s Auburn though.

Alabama plays a different brand of defense, pressuring teams in the open court and limiting opponents to one shot – probably why they lead the SEC in team defense, holding teams to merely 60.9 points per contest.

Georgia did not handle the Tide’s pressure well in Tuscaloosa, and they must protect the ball better in the Georgia Dome if they want to advance to Saturday’s third-round game.

All-SEC First-Team selection Trey Thompkins carried his team through the first round of the conference tournament, scoring 22 points and hauling in 10 rebounds.  He’ll match-up with a fellow First-Team’er on Friday in JaMychal Green, in what should be a battle in the paint.

Personally, I am beyond tired of hearing about all of the different “bubble scenarios”, “bracketology’s” and “play-in scenarios” on ESPN.  Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled that Georgia is at a point as a basketball program where they are being mentioned in such conversations.

But I am ready to see this game played.

I think at this point, Georgia could survive a loss tomorrow and still get into the NCAA’s, yet probably as one of the teams that would play on either Tuesday or Wednesday in the new “first round”.

Coach Mark Fox’s team could take a lot of the guesswork out of the “Bubble” picture with a win on Friday.

Georgia and Auburn Open Up 2011 SEC Tournament

Las Vegas has given the Georgia Bulldogs a 10-to-1 shot to win this year’s SEC Tournament.

The Dawgs don’t have to win the whole thing though (as nice as that would be) to earn an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament; they just have to win one or two games – depending on which sports media website you have bookmarked on your internet browser.

Georgia will play the Auburn Tigers in the first game of the conference tournament at 1:00PM in the Georgia Dome.  This game will be the second meeting between these two teams within the state of Georgia this year, with the first coming earlier this season in Athens.

Jeremy Price scored 22 points in that game and the Dawgs beat the Tigers 81-72, but it took them an extra five minutes to do it.  Auburn’s Ernest Ross scored a season-high 30 points in the game, and his Tigers connected on 9 three-pointers (also a season-high) en route to a very close road loss.

As I mentioned in my last post, the Bulldogs are an astounding 13-1 when Price – “The Refrigerator from Decatur” – scores in double-figures – make what you will with that statistic.

To Georgia’s credit, Trey Thompkins and a few other UGA players were dealing with a flu bug due to some bad chili from the road trip to Arkansas – but the Dawgs team effort against Auburn that day did leave a lot to be desired.

Ross ended up putting together a nice sophomore season for the fighting War Eagles, averaging 14.3 ppg as well as 6.4 rpg in SEC play.  He was also the team’s most consistent outside threat, connecting on nearly 39% of his shot attempts from beyond the arc.

If the Bulldogs show up hungry and ready to play defense on Thursday, this game won’t even be close.  In conference games this season, Auburn made only 31.0% of their three-point attempts and just four three’s per contest (which was next to last in the conference).  The fact that Georgia let this Tiger team drop nine three’s on them in Athens is inexcusable.  The Dawgs really improved their three-point percentage defense over the course of the year though, limiting SEC opponents to just 31.4% from beyond the arc (which ranked third in the conference).  If Georgia can do a good job of closing out and contesting Auburn’s perimeter shots, they should put themselves in a great position to win.

Another area where this game could be won or lost will be on the boards, where both of these teams have found success this season.  Auburn averages 12.9 offensive rebounds per league game, which is third in the SEC.  Georgia, conversely, is second in the conference with 27.0 defensive rebounds per game.  Which team will play with more energy on Thursday and win the battle of the boards?

This is a much improved Auburn team that Georgia will be playing in the Dome.  Since the loss to UGA, Auburn has gone 3-4 in SEC games, and two of those losses were by just two points each (Alabama and Arkansas).

The main thing that concerns me heading into this game is the difference in mindsets for both of these teams.  Auburn finished the season 11-19 overall and 4-12 in the conference – it’s safe to say that barring a miraculous four-game run, they will not be playing any basketball after this week.

That being said, the Tigers should enter this game with nothing to lose, which could translate into a loose and relaxed Auburn team.

Georgia, on the other hand, has a bit more added pressure with a potential NCAA at-large berth on the line, and thus they run the risk of playing tight.  If the Dawgs were to slip up and drop this game to the Tigers, UGA would certainly be on the first bus to the NIT.

On top of that, a couple of well-known ESPN college basketball analysts have hinted that the Bulldogs may need to win two games to get themselves off the “bubble” (meaning wins over both Auburn and Alabama).

Hopefully Coach Mark Fox has his starting five keyed-in and ready to take care of the task at hand (Auburn), because none of the bubble watches, bracketologies or “potential play-in games” matter if Georgia doesn’t win this first tournament game.

The Georgia Bulldogs definitely have a team that is capable of winning this SEC Tournament, and the bracket couldn’t have worked out any better in their favor, with both Florida and Vanderbilt on the opposite side.

If the Bulldogs are going to go on a run here in Atlanta this weekend though, they will have to have the support of the Georgia fan base.  It would be awesome to see the UGA fan base come out to the Dome on Thursday and turn it into Stegeman Coliseum.

Georgia fans have the shortest commute by far of any other SEC team.  Whether you have to take a late lunch, a half day or miss class, I personally think it would be well worth it to head on down to the Georgia Dome to pick up some tickets and support this UGA basketball team.

Dawgs Fall Short in Tuscaloosa

The Alabama Crimson Tide came into Saturday’s game against the Georgia Bulldogs (20-10; 9-7) averaging an SEC-worst 5.1 three-pointers per game.  Senior Charvez Davis hit five three’s himself though, two of which came during a critical stretch that put his team up 50-40 with only 9:37 remaining.  Bama had its biggest lead of the game with its star player, JaMychal Green, on the bench with four fouls.

Georgia was unable to capitalize in Green’s absence, and the Dawgs sputtered to a 65-57 loss in Tuscaloosa.

The Tide’s SEC-leading defense lived up to its billing on Saturday, forcing Georgia into 16 turnovers and holding the Dawgs to just 41.3% from the floor.  Alabama’s full-court press kept the Bulldogs off-balance, and Georgia managed to get off just 46 field goal attempts – usually the Dawgs are hoisting up at least 60 FG shots per game.

Coach Mark Fox sounded more displeased on the post-game locker room radio show yesterday than I can remember following a loss this year.  After the Dawgs’ heart-breaking losses to both Florida and Tennessee, Fox was obviously upset, but he also seemed to feel bad for his team for having to endure those tough defeats.

After the Bama game, however, Fox sounded pissed.  He did not like the Bulldogs effort in the game yesterday, especially on the boards, where Georgia yielded 14 offensive rebounds to the Tide – the Dawgs lost the battle of the boards by a tally of 30-28.

JaMychal Green, who dealt with foul trouble for a majority of the second half, finished the game with 19 points and 9 rebounds, leading all scorers.

Georgia’s scoring came from Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, who ended the game with 15 points apiece.  Trey was ultra-productive on Saturday, as he also grabbed 10 rebounds in just 27 minutes of play – his fifth double-double of the season.

Gerald Robinson, Jr. struggled mightily against the Tide, finishing the game with 8 points on just 2 of 12 shooting from the floor.  Robinson dished out 4 assists, yet he matched that total with 4 turnovers.

The Bulldogs turned the ball over too many times to expect to win on the road against a team that hadn’t lost at home yet this season.  Travis Leslie was the main culprit on Saturday, leading his squad with 6 turnovers in the contest.

Jeremy Price was ineffective against Alabama, posting only 6 points and making just one field goal.  I don’t want to go on record as saying that the Dawgs go as Jeremy Price goes, but Georgia is 13-1 this season in games where Jeremy scores in double-digits.

The Dawgs wrap up their 2010-2011 SEC slate with a 9-7 record, which is a great accomplishment for this team and for Coach Mark Fox.  At the moment, Georgia is sitting at fourth place in the SEC East, with their final position in the standings dependent upon the outcome of the game today between Kentucky and Tennessee.

If Kentucky wins, Georgia stays in fourth.  If the Vols come out on top, then the Bulldogs will wind up in fifth place due to a slew of unfavorable tie-breakers.

FYI – the Bulldog Nation wants Kentucky to take care of business in Knoxville so Georgia can get the East fourth-seed in next week’s conference tournament.  If that were to happen, the Dawgs would take on Auburn in the first round and the winner would go on to play Alabama.

The East five-seed plays Arkansas in round one, with the winner facing an unfavorable second-round match-up with the Florida Gators.

Go Cats.

Georgia Hopes to Hand Alabama First Home Loss

The Alabama Crimson Tide are 15-0 when playing in Tuscaloosa this season – not bad, not bad at all.

They are 11-4 in the conference and could possibly split the regular season title with Florida (if the Gators were to stumble at Vanderbilt on Saturday), yet they are on the NCAA Bubble due to a lack of love from the people at RPI, Inc.  The Tide sport a less-than-stellar RPI of 86, largely due in part to their soft out-of-conference schedule – they have the 129th hardest schedule in the nation (eeehhh).

Bama has gone 3-2 against teams from the SEC East, however, and they need this game over an RPI Top 50 team like the Georgia Bulldogs (20-9; 9-6) to bolster their tourney resume.  The Tide should be plenty motivated come Saturday afternoon, and there’s a chance that they might play a Dawgs team that could be without its star player – Trey Thompkins.

Thompkins has been nursing a toe injury all week, and at the moment he is listed as questionable for the game.

It would be a shame if Trey couldn’t go for Georgia, because I was very excited to see the match-up between him and Bama’s version of Trey Thompkins – JaMychal Green.  Green has put together an excellent junior season for Coach Anthony Grant, leading his team with 16.7 ppg and 7.7 rpg in conference play.  Similarly to Thompkins, Green is a versatile big that can score the ball both inside and out.

Green is joined in the frontcourt by sophomore wing Tony Mitchell, who is scoring 16.6 ppg and grabbing 6.3 rpg in SEC contests.

The Tide get scoring on the perimeter from freshman point guard Trever Releford – he is netting 11.7 ppg and dishing out 3.2 apg in league games.

Alabama Coach Anthony Grant wanted his team to be strong defensively coming into this season, and it’s safe to say his kids bought in.  The Tide are holding opponents to merely 61.1 points per game, tops in the SEC.  Bama leads the conference in field goal percentage defense, limiting opponents to just 39.6% from the field.  They are also leading the SEC in steals with 9.2 per game, and they are fourth in the league in blocked shots at 5.1 per contest.  This team gets it done on the defensive side of the ball, and that is why they have won 11 conference games this season.

Offensively, much like Georgia, the Tide prefer to get their points from inside the arc.  Bama is shooting just 26.3% from three-point range, and they are hitting only 3.1 three-point field goals a game – both of which rank them last in the SEC.  Conversely though, they are knocking down nearly 50% of their 2-point field goal attempts in conference games this year.

If Trey can’t go on Saturday, Georgia is going to face a very stiff challenge in Tuscaloosa.  Coach Mark Fox’s triangle offense will not run as smoothly with either Jeremy Price or Chris Barnes at the high post position, as neither player is a significant scoring threat from more than eight feet from the basket (that’s being very generous to Barnes).

The Dawgs are going to have to find other ways to score, and hopefully Gerald Robinson and Travis Leslie can create offense from the wing positions.

Dustin Ware is coming off his best three-point shooting performance since the Georgia Tech game, knocking down 5 of 7 from beyond the arc in the win over LSU on Thursday.  Ware is connecting on an SEC-leading 47.7% of his three-point attempts this season.  Coach Fox is going to need Dustin to step up and make some outside shots on Saturday.

In my (humble) opinion, this game is far more significant for Alabama than it is for Georgia – dare I say “must win” for the Tide?  With the Dawgs’ win over LSU on Thursday, Georgia put themselves in a very good position to earn an at-large berth to this year’s NCAA tournament – that’s what  a strong RPI of 37 will do for you.  Bama however, could be left out of the dance if they were to lay an egg and drop one to the Dawgs on Saturday.

That being said, if the Bulldogs were to go into Bear Bryant Territory and knock off the Tide, Georgia would head into next week’s SEC Tournament looking to improve their NCAA tourney seed (vs wondering if they are in or not).

Hopefully Trey’s toenail is getting the best medical attention that UGA can provide.

If he can’t play though, can the Dawgs win an SEC road game without him?

Dawgs Hammer Tigers

Seldom-used Georgia (20-9; 9-6) guard Matt Bucklin took his man off the dribble, hung in the air and buried an 18-foot jump shot (while getting fouled I might add), sending the UGA student section into a frenzy.  This was Bucklin’s first field goal of the season, and with 26 seconds left in the game Stegeman was as loud as it had been all night.

It should be noted however, that Georgia was leading by twenty at this point and the game was well in hand.

The game wasn’t entirely peachy for the Dawgs though, as they got out to a terribly slow start against LSU.  Georgia Coach Mark Fox had his team start out in a zone against the Tigers – not a bad strategy considering LSU came into this game shooting just 40.0% from the field as a team.

But LSU was surprisingly hot to start the game, and they jumped out to a 13-4 lead with 13:41 to go before the intermission – Georgia’s cold shooting aided the Tigers in building this lead as well.

The Dawgs offense woke up however, especially junior guard Dustin Ware, who canned 3 three-pointers during a 22-6 Georgia run that left the Bulldogs up 26-19 with 2:47 left in the half.  Fox also switched his team into a man defense, and LSU started being LSU, turning the ball over 11 times in the first half (the Tigers finished with 18 turnovers).  Georgia made the most of the Tigers’ sloppiness on Wednesday, scoring 23 points off of turnovers.

The Dawgs took a 30-25 lead into the half, and they came out of the break with a lot of focus.  Georgia scored the first 6 points of half number two, and the Dawgs proceeded to go on a 17-7 run that put them up 47-32 with 12:42 left.  This was the run that put the Tigers to bed, and Georgia coasted to a 73-53 victory – their 20th of the season.

According to the AJC’s Tim Tucker, Trey Thompkins was dealing with a toe injury on Tuesday and that is why he only played 22 minutes against LSU (scoring 8 points and grabbing 5 rebounds) – his status for Saturday’s game in Tuscaloosa is questionable.

Luckily for Thompkins, his teammates were more than capable of picking up the slack.  Four Georgia players – Gerald Robinson, Dustin Ware, Travis Leslie, Jeremy Price – finished the game in double-figures, with Robinson’s 16 points leading the way.

Robinson attacked the basket relentlessly and put a lot of pressure on the LSU defense by pushing the ball all night.  His 16 points was his highest scoring total since the Missy State game back on January 22nd.

Dustin Ware, who lit the Tigers up from the beyond the arc in the first half, ended up with 15 points on 5 of 7 shooting from three-point range.

Travis Leslie, the only player to post a double-double, was the game’s MVP (in my humble opinion).  After a sluggish start (just 3 points in the first half), Leslie got his offensive going after the break and finished the game with 14 points.  He also led the Dawgs with 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals – Leslie was definitely peppering the stat sheet on Wednesday.

And Georgia reached the coveted 20-win mark, the first time in nearly a decade.  By bolstering their conference record to 9-6, the Dawgs have now assured themselves of a winning SEC record for the season.

It’s a bit disconcerting to think that Georgia may have to play Alabama without the services of their star player (as well as Marcus Thornton who was on the bench with his arm heavily wrapped), but the Dawgs might be better-served to allow Trey to heal up before the conference tournament next week.

If Georgia were to upend Bama on Saturday, there is a scenario in which the Dawgs finish second in the SEC East – Vandy loses at home to Florida and Kentucky loses at Tennessee (both are definitely possibilities).

No matter where Georgia ends up in the final conference standings though, I’m very proud of what they accomplished this year on the court (20+ wins and 9+ SEC wins).  I am also equally excited to see this team do some damage in the postseason.

Georgia goes for win number 20 tonight against LSU

If the Georgia Bulldogs (19-9; 8-6) can win in Athens on Wednesday night against the LSU Tigers, then they should be in good shape for the postseason, according to ESPN.com.  Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology had Georgia playing in Tampa, Florida as an 11-seed versus 6-seed Villanova – personally, I’d prefer a different match-up.

Georgia is a better team than LSU, and the Dawgs should win tonight (Vegas has the Bulldogs as a whopping 15-point favorite).

Georgia has an RPI of 35, while LSU’s is a dismal 207.  Georgia is the fourth-highest scoring team in the league at 70.5 ppg, while LSU is dead-last with 58.3 ppg.  The Tigers are 10th in the conference in team defense, surrendering 70.6 ppg.

The numbers don’t get much prettier for LSU, as they rank in the bottom three of the conference in twelve statistical categories.  They do not shoot the ball well at all, mustering just 38.7% from the field and 27.1% from beyond the arc.

You get the picture right?  LSU hasn’t been very good this season.

But they did win at Auburn in early January, a team that took the Dawgs to overtime when they played in Athens.  They also won at Missy State last Wednesday, and they took a 43-41 lead into the break against Vandy on Saturday before falling 90-69.

Georgia has nine losses this season, yet all of them were to opponents ranked in the RPI Top 50.  The Dawgs record this year against the RPI Top 50 is an underwhelming 3-9, however, they do not have any “ugly” losses – which will definitely be taken into account by the NCAA selection committee.  Georgia can ill-afford to slip up and drop a game that they should win at this point of the season.

If the Dawgs defend well tonight in Stegeman, they will give themselves an excellent chance to come out victorious.  Georgia is right in the middle of the pack of the SEC in scoring defense, allowing conference opponents 67.5 ppg.  However, they are limiting teams to just 40.5% from the floor, ranking them third in league in that category.  The Bulldogs have been a fairly sound defensive team throughout this season, but lately they have been plagued by second-half lapses.  In the past five games, the Dawgs are surrendering nearly 20 more points to opponents after the break versus before it.  For whatever reason, Georgia has not been stepping onto the floor ready to defend in the second half lately.

As mentioned early, the Tigers are one of the worst-defensive teams in the league this season (70.6 ppg).  The magic scoreboard number for opponents this year has been 80 points – LSU has yielded 80 or more points 13 times this season, and they have gone 2-11 in those contests.

Last Saturday night against South Carolina, Georgia’s Trey Thompkins went for 20 points, his first time doing so since the Florida game on January 25th.  It would be nice to see Trey get back into a rhythm on offense for this final stretch of games before heading into the SEC tournament next week (and potentially the NCAA’s).

This game will also mark the last home game for seniors Jeremy Price and Chris Barnes, who have platooned at the forward position this season for Coach Mark Fox.  Neither of these seniors has ever been part of a 20-win team, and they will have a chance to reach that plateau this evening.