MBB Game Preview: Georgia vs. Samford

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MBB Game Preview: Georgia vs. Samford

Toumani Camara
Toumani Camara

Georgia (4-0) vs. Samford (2-1)

Saturday, December 12, at 7:00 p.m. ET

Stegeman Coliseum (1,638) in Athens, Ga.

Series History: UGA leads, 1-0

Last Meeting: UGA, 61-55, on Nov. 26, 2001

Watch: SEC Network + (Van Earl Wright, play-by-play; Mark Slonaker, analyst)

Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network Flagship: WSB AM 750 Atlanta; XM: 389; Internet: 979 (Jeff Dantzler, play-by-play; Jeff Dantzler, analyst; Adam Gillespie, producer)

The Starting Five

• The last time UGA faced Samford was also the last time the Bulldogs started a season 5-0. Samford was the fourth game of the 2001-02 season on Nov. 26, 2001.

• Sahvir Wheeler is the first SEC player with three-straight point-assist double-doubles in over 20 seasons… we’re through 2000-01 and haven’t found one.

• Toumani Camara’s 17 rebounds against Montana represented the most by a Bulldog since Trey Thompkins’ 17 versus Alabama on Feb. 20, 2010.

• Tye Fagan became the 28th UGA Bulldog to earn SEC Player of the Week honors (a combined 38 times) since the award’s inception in 1985.

• UGA’s roster features eight newcomers with representative in every class – two freshmen, a sophomore, two juniors and a trio of graduate transfers.

The Opening Tip

Georgia hosts Samford on Saturday night looking to equal its best start in nearly two decades. The Bulldogs, who are 4-0, last won their first five games to open the 2001-02 season.

Saturday’s contest will be Georgia’s fifth in 14 days. That comes following a 263-day gap between March 11 – when Georgia played its final game of the 2019-20 season – and Nov. 29 – when the Bulldogs opened their 2020-21 campaign.

Keeping An Eye On…Entering Tonight’s Game

Andrew Garcia is…

• 170 points from 1,000 for his career

• 73 rebounds for 500 for his career

Series History With Bulldogs

Georgia won the only previous meeting with Samford, a 61-55 decision on Nov. 26, 2001 at Stegeman Coliseum.

Jonas Hayes scored 14 points – connecting on 5-of-8 shots from the field and 4-of-4 trips to the line – in 24 minutes of action. He led a quartet of Bulldogs in double figures.

After the game was tied 52-52 with just over three minutes remaining, Georgia embarked on a decisive 9-0 surge which thwarted Samford’s upset attempt.

Scouting Samford

Samford was the buzz of the college basketball world on Nov. 25 when the Bulldogs scored 174 points in an exhibition victory over Greenville. It doesn’t take too long to do the division and realize that 174 points equates to more than four points per minute. It’s actually 4.35 points per minute once you get assistance from a calculator.

The Bulldogs’ scoring pace has slowed since beginning regular-season play. Samford arrives in Athens averaging a paltry 90.0 ppg.

First-year head coach Bucky McMillan is employing the same up-tempo concept he used during a highly successful run at Mountain Brook High School in Birmingham to win five Class 7A state titles in 12 seasons.

Five Bulldogs are averaging double digits in the scoring column. Myron Gordon comes off the bench to contribute a team-high 19.5 ppg, while Christian Guess chips in 15.7 ppg, Logan Dye adds 15.3 ppg, A.J. Staton McCray averages 11.7 ppg and Jacob Tryon is at 11.0 ppg.

New Faces In New Places

Georgia’s roster features eight first-year Bulldogs, while Samford brings 10 total newcomers to Athens.

Georgia’s octet newcomers features a representative of every class – freshmen K.D. Johnson and Josh Taylor, sophomore Tyron McMillan, juniors Jonathan Ned and Mikal Starks; and graduate transfer seniors Andrew Garcia, P.J. Horne and Justin Kier.

Samford’s ledger of new Bulldogs includes six freshmen and four transfers – a sophomore, a junior and two seniors.

Bulldogs Doing Work On Boards

Georgia enters the Samford game ranked No. 11 nationally in rebound margin at a whopping +15.5. Oddly, the Bulldogs are averaging exactly 15.5 offensive rebounds per game, a tally that is No. 9 in D-I.

Wheeler Off To Historic Start

Quick…when was the last time a 5-10 player led the SEC in double-doubles? The answer: That would be today.

Sahvir Wheeler leads the SEC with three point-assist efforts. Texas A&M’s Emmanuel Miller and Arkansas’ Tulo Smith were the only other SEC players with multiple double-doubles entering Saturday.

Quick…when was the last time an SEC player had three straight point-assist double-doubles? The answer: not in 20 seasons.

With some assistance from Craig Pinkerton last Saturday, it was determined that no SEC player has recorded a trio of consecutive point-assist double-doubles through the 2000-01 season. In fact, only two league players – Florida’s Chris Chiozza and Kentucky’s Tyler Ulis – have recorded back-to-back point-assist double-doubles in the last five seasons.

Quick…when was the last time a Bulldog recorded double-figure assist tallies in consecutive games? The answer: probably never.

Box scores dating back through the 1969-70 did not find anyone who had done so. There were a couple of close calls – Gino Gianfrancesco twice in a three-game span at the end of the 1971-72 and start of the 1972-73 seasons; Donald Hartry covering a four-game period in 1986-87; Rashad Wright over a five-game stretch over the end of 2001-02 and opening of 2002-03; and G.G. Smith over a six-game time frame during the 1998-99 campaign.

We think it would be unlikely any Bulldog before Gianfrancesco did so since he holds three of the top-four single-game efforts in school history.

Wheeler’s 12 assists against FAMU equaled the fourth-best single-game assist tally in 116 seasons of Georgia Basketball. It also was the most by a Bulldog in more than two decades…since G.G. Smith also had a dozen assists against Vanderbilt on Jan. 3, 1999.

Camara’s Production Increases

Toumani Camara’s efforts in the scoring and rebounding columns are up dramatically from last season. 

The sophomore from Brussels is averaging 14.3 ppg and 8.0 rpg. Last season, he averaged 6.6 ppg and 4.3 rpg.

Camara’s scoring average is up 117 percent from a year ago, while his rebounding count is up 86 percent.

Camara’s increased offensive production can be traced to the second half of last season. After scoring in double figures once in the Bulldogs’ first 16 games, he did so seven times in the final 16 outings. With three more double-digit tallies this season, Camara has now scored 10 or more points in 10 of Georgia’s last 20 contests.

The Graduates Score 

All three of the Bulldogs’ graduate transfers – P.J. Horne, Andrew Garcia and Justin Kier – recorded double-digit scoring performances against Montana.

Garcia posted 13 points, Kier chipped in 12 and Horne added 10.

Horne now has three double-figure outputs this season and 17 for his career. Garcia and Kier both have two outputs of 10 points or more for the Bulldogs, upping their career totals to 42 and 53, respectively.  

Bulldogs Supplying The Digits

Georgia is averaging 82.5 points per game over its first four outings, continuing the Bulldogs’ trend of increased point production under Tom Crean.

Georgia scored 98 points against Jacksonville on Dec. 4 – the 12th time in Crean’s 67 games with the Bulldogs that they reached or exceeded the 90-point plateau.

By comparison, Georgia scored 90 or more points just 12 times in the 393 games before Crean’s arrival, a span of 11-plus seasons.

Last year, the Bulldogs averaged 75.9 ppg, their highest effort in more than 15 years. The last time Georgia produced a higher points per game clip than that mark was in 2002-03 when the Bulldogs averaged 79.2.

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