Georgia vs. Mississippi State: Game Notes

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Georgia vs. Mississippi State: Game Notes

Terryuana Godwin (1)
(Photo by John Kelley)

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Lady Bulldog Game Notes
Georgia vs. Mississippi State
Friday, January 2, 2015 – 5:00 PM EST
Humphrey Coliseum (10,500) in Starkville, Miss.


Video: BIG EAST Digital Network; Bart Gregory, play-by-play; Charlie Winfield, analyst
Radio: Georgia Bulldog Radio Network (AM 960 The Ref in Athens & 103.7 FM from Gainesville); Jeff Dantzler, play-by-play

Starting 5
• UGA leads the series with MSU 27-14, but is just 10-9 in Starkville
• UGA has compiled a 26-6 record in its SEC openers
• The game is a homecoming for Mississippi natives Krista Donald (Lake) and Tiaria Griffin (Monticello)
• UGA was 12-0 and one of the last six undefeated Division I wbb teams when it lost at Seton Hall on 12/28
• UGA’s 11/29 win at Tennessee Tech made Andy Landers just the seventh college hoops coach – men’s or women’s – with 850 wins at one D-I school

Keeping An Eye On…entering today’s game:

Millennium point watch…
• Shacobia Barbee is 211 points from 1,000
• Erika Ford is 244 points from 1,000

Lady Bulldog Basketball is…
• 8 wins from the 900th victory in program history

Andy Landers is…
• 13 victories from his 950th win as a collegiate head coach

Georgia Opens SEC play At Mississippi State
The No. 19-ranked Georgia Lady Bulldogs begin Southeastern Conference play on Friday afternoon when they trek to Starkville, Miss., to face No. 17 Mississippi State. Tipoff at Humphrey Coliseum is slated for 4 pm ET.

Through games of Dec. 30, Georgia and Mississippi State sported two of the top-10 records in the nation in 2014-15. MSU was one of just four remaining undefeated teams, while UGA’s .923 winning percentage was tied for eighth-best nationally.

Georgia suffered its initial loss of the season last Sunday when Seton Hall topped the Lady Bulldogs, 70-51. That ended both the fifth-best start in the program’s history and the 21st double-digit winning streak during Andy Landers’ 36 seasons in Athens.

Shacobia Barbee leads the Lady Bulldogs in scoring at 13.0 ppg, while Tiaria Griffin is contributing 11.2 ppg. Krista Donald is Georgia’s top rebounder at 7.6 rpg.

All told, eight different Lady Bulldogs – Barbee, Marjorie Butler, Donald, Mackenzie Engram, Erika Ford, Griffin, Merritt Hempe and Pachis Roberts – have combined to score in double figures 36 times for the Lady Bulldogs.

Mississippi State is not only 15-0 but has compiled that mark with an eye-popping 32.0 ppg average margin of victory.

Freshmen Victoria Vivians and Morgan William pace Mississippi State offensively at 16.3 ppg and 10.9 ppg, respectively. Vivians ranks third in the SEC in scoring. Chinwe Okorie is the top rebounder at 6.7 rpg, but everyone hits the boards for State. Seven players are averaging between 3.9-6.7 rpg.

Quoting Coach Landers…
On The Opening Of Southeastern Conference Play…
“It’s always exciting to start the conference because you know you’re going to going to be met head-on with a challenge on every front – offensively, defensively and in special situations. You know you’re going to be going to places where it’s difficult to play. There are the entertaining and terrific rivalries that exist within the league. It just brings into focus a totally different dimension.”

On Preparing Newcomers For Playing In The SEC…
“You hope that the pre-conference schedule has prepared them some, but I think it’s probably more along the lines of throwing a kid into a swimming pool and telling them to swim. There’s nothing quite like it.”

On Facing Undefeated Mississippi State…
“Mississippi State is just an excellent basketball team. They’re very well balanced. They have terrific scorers. They’re a terrific defensive basketball team, one that likes to harass and turn you over. It will be an aggressive and physical basketball game. There’s no question about that.”

Series History With State
Georgia owns a 27-14 lead in matchups with Mississippi State; however, UGA’s edge in games played in Starkville is just 10-9.

The Lady Bulldogs and Bulldogs split a pair of meetings last season. Mississippi State secured an 80-67 win in Starkville on Feb. 2 and Georgia avenged that setback a month later to the day with a 77-48 victory in Athens in the regular-season finale.

Merritt Hempe’s career-high 22 points led all scorers last season in Athens, while Khaalidah Miller added 18 points, Tiaria Griffin chipped in 16 and Shacobia Barbee scored 10.

Miller, Georgia’s lone senior, set the tone in her final appearance in Stegeman Coliseum, scoring five of Georgia’s 13 points as the home side opened up an early lead with a 13-0 run.

Miller’s nailed a deep 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer to push the Lady Bulldogs to a 29-point advantage. Georgia led by 25 points or more throughout the second half.

Last season in Starkville, Mississippi State defeated Georgia despite a career-high 27 points by Erika Ford.

State used a 9-0 run early in the game to grab the lead, gradually expanded that margin to 18 points late in the period and then withstood several rallies by Georgia in the second stanza.
The Lady Bulldogs pulled within 71-65 on a Krista Donald layup with 2:22 remaining; however, Martha Alwal answered with a layin of her own on the other end.

Last  Time Out
Georgia’s undefeated season came to an end on Sunday as Seton Hall upset the Lady Bulldogs, 70-51.

Tiaria Griffin led four Lady Bulldogs with double-digit stats. Griffin scored 16 points, Merritt Hempe added 13 and Pachis Roberts chipped in 11. Krista Donald grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds. Seton Hall’s Tabatha Richardson-Smith led all scorers with 25 points.

Georgia trailed most of the first half but rallied to take a 41-29 lead with 12:47 remaining. The Lady Bulldogs failed on two chances to add to that margin before Seton Hall exploded on a 25-2 run to seal the victory.

Tiffany Jones started the decisive surge with a layup at the 11:45 mark, and Richardson-Smith’s 3-pointer capped the run that put the Pirates up 64-43 with 5:55 left.

After trailing 33-25 at halftime, Georgia quickly scored the first five points of the second stanza and eventually tied the game three times before going up by two on a Mackenzie Engram layup.

Engram and Shacobia Barbee missed shots that could have pushed the margin further before the Pirates seized control en route to their 11th straight win and 13th consecutive home victory dating back to last season.

Georgia In SEC Openers
Georgia has compiled a 26-6 record in SEC openers since the league began administering women’s basketball in 1982-83. The Lady Bulldogs are 11-4 when beginning league play on the road.

Georgia has won 12 of its last 14 initial SEC outings, dropping only a 66-58 decision at Vanderbilt last season and suffering a 62-54 setback at Ole Miss on Jan. 8, 2009.

Returning to the Magnolia State
Three members of Lady Bulldog Basketball are Mississippi natives.

Associate head coach Joni Crenshaw is from Meridian, while players Krista Donald and Tiaria Griffin hail from Lake and Monticello, respectively.

Crenshaw, who is in her fourth season at UGA, was the 1997 Gatorade Player of the Year for Mississippi. She led Meridian High to a combined 67-7 record as a junior and senior and also won three state titles in track & field.

Crenshaw then played collegiately at Alabama and finished her career with 716 points, 555 rebounds and 103 blocks, a tally that remains No. 4 among the Crimson Tide’s career leaders.

Donald was named Miss Basketball by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger and the Gatorade Player of the Year in 2011. She was a four-year starter at Lake High School, where she scored 2,456 points and grabbed 1,470 rebounds during her prep career.

Griffin was a two-time first-team All-State performer, earning 4A honors as a junior at Lawrence County High School and 6A accolades as a senior at Hattiesburg High. She averaged 13.9 ppg as a freshman, 20.0 as a sophomore, 30.1 as a junior and 24.1 as a senior.

Donald and Griffin both expect large contingents of family members and friends on hand in Starkville on Friday afternoon. Donald said “about 50” people from Lake will be at the contest. Griffin said she expects “probably two bus loads” to make their way to Humphrey Coliseum.

Defense vs. Offense
Georgia and Mississippi State are prominent teams in NCAA defensive and offensive stats, respectively, through games of Dec. 30.

Georgia ranked No. 5 in scoring defense at 49.6 ppg, No. 7 in steals at 13.1 spg and No. 12 in turnover margin at +7.33.

Mississippi State was No. 8 in scoring offense at 84.7 ppg and No. 4 in scoring margin at +32.0 ppg.

Lady Bulldogs’ Starting Streak
Georgia’s 12-0 start to 2014-15 equaled the 2013 “Elite Eight” and 1995 Final Four teams for the fifth-best start in program history.

The only better beginnings for the Lady Bulldogs were: 16-0 by the 2010 “Sweet 16” team; 14-0 by the 1999 Final Four squad; and 13-0 by the 2008 and 1990 Lady Bulldogs, who both lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

21st Double-Digit “W” String
Georgia’s 69-60 victory over No. 16 Michigan State on Dec. 7 produced the 21st double-figure winning streak in the history of Lady Bulldog Basketball.

Georgia’s longest string of success covered 20 games in 1985-86. That team beat No. 4 Long Beach State on New Year’s Eve and didn’t lose again until the NCAA “Sweet 16.”

UGA Among Last Unbeatens
The Lady Bulldogs was one of just six remaining undefeated Division I teams when the final horn sounded in their initial loss at Seton Hall on Dec. 28. The only other unbeatens were Akron, Mississippi State, Princeton, South Carolina and Texas.

First To Double-Digit “Ws”
On Dec. 7, the Lady Bulldogs became the first of the nation’s 688 Division I basketball teams – 345 men’s and 343 women’s – to reach 10 victories this season when then No. 19 Georgia upset No. 16 Michigan State.

Shacobia Barbee: Playmaker
Shacobia Barbee’s scoring often gets the headlines, but that’s just part of the story. Barbee has inflicted her influence on both ends of the floor all season.

The junior from Murfreesboro, Tenn., leads the Lady Bulldogs in both scoring (13.0 ppg) and steals (2.7 spg) and ranks among SEC statistical leaders in six categories.

Perhaps Barbee’s best outing of the season came at arch rival Georgia Tech on Nov. 23 when she was stellar from the opening tip to the final horn.

Barbee hit back-to-back 3-pointers that ignited an 11-2 run to put UGA up 13-6. After Tech pulled ahead 25-22 late in the half, Barbee scored five points in the final 56 seconds of the period to put Georgia up at the break.

Throughout the game, Barbee worked the sideline in UGA’s press break and turned long passes into strong drives to the basket. She also made several key defensive plays, none bigger than a steal from Kaela Davis with a minute remaining and Georgia up four.

“Cobi really has a nice understanding of basketball,” Andy Landers said. “She understands how to play it and where the opportunities are, whether that’s defensive opportunities or those are offensive opportunities. What she did today was sense at the back of the press offense that there were some opportunities…that on the outside lane on the break, they hadn’t quite gotten back. She wanted the ball and took the ball to the basket hard. Early, it was good for our basketball team when she stepped back in hit those threes. She was a playmaker. She was a defensive playmaker and an offensive playmaker today.”

Landers Joins Elite List
Georgia’s 74-51 win at Tennessee Tech on Nov. 29 represented Andy Landers’ 850th victory at UGA. Landers became just the seventh college basketball coach – men’s or women’s – with 850 victories at one Division I school.

The milestone was more memorable since it occurred Landers’ alma mater. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Tennessee Tech in 1973 and 1974, respectively. Landers and his wife, Pam, also a Tech graduate, were honored as distinguished alumni prior to tipoff. After the contest, Landers was presented the game ball by longtime friend and TTU coach Jim Davis.

That game was then autographed by the current Lady Bulldog Basketball family and again presented to Landers prior to Georgia’s home game against Coppin State on Dec. 2. Seniors Krista Donald and Erika Ford and Greg McGarity, UGA’s J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics, (pictured above) gave Landers the autographed basketball. Interestingly, McGarity was at Landers’ very first win at UGA against Piedmont on Nov. 10, 1979, serving as the team’s sports information director.

The seven coaches to reach the 850-win plateau at one Division I school – with win totals of the active coaches as of Dec. 30 – are listed below.

850 wins at One Division I School
Coach, School   Wins
Pat Summitt, Tennessee  1098
Jim Boeheim, Syracuse   957
Mike Krzyzewski, Duke   922
Geno Auriemma, Connecticut      890
Dean Smith, North Carolina      879
Adolph Rupp, Kentucky   876
ANDY LANDERS, GEORGIA   855

Lady Bulldogs Return to Polls
The Lady Bulldogs were not ranked in the preseason editions of the AP or USA Today/ESPN polls, an extreme rarity.

Georgia was not in the AP preseason poll for just the second time since 1981-82 and was left out of the coaches poll for the first time since it was initiated in 1985-86.

The last time Georgia was not ranked in the AP poll was the 2008-09 season.

The Lady Bulldogs’ absence from the rankings was brief.

Georgia entered the AP poll on Nov. 17 after wins over Morgan State and TCU. UGA joined the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll the following week on Nov. 25 following road victories at Ohio State and Georgia Tech.

Georgia has now appeared in 516 weekly editions of the AP rankings, the second-most of any program in the nation. The Lady Bulldogs are second in weeks ranked despite not being featured in the first seven years of the AP poll’s existence.

Georgia first appeared in the AP poll in the preseason edition prior to the 1981-82 season. Since then, UGA has been included in 516 of the 603 (85.6 percent) of the weekly AP polls. During that same span, the Lady Bulldogs have appeared in the top-10 44.6 percent of the time (268 weeks).

The WBCA initiated a coaches poll with the 1985-86 campaign. Since then, Georgia has been ranked in 437 of 531 (82.3 percent) of weekly polls, including 234 weeks (44.1 percent) in the top 10.

Landers, UGA Approach Milestones
In addition to Andy Landers’ 850th win at the University of Georgia (secured at Tennessee Tech on Nov. 29), both he and Lady Bulldog Basketball are within reach of additional significant milestone victory marks during the 2014-15 season.

The Lady Bulldogs are now eight wins shy of their 900th all-time victory. Georgia became the 10th Division I women’s basketball program to reach 850 all-time victories against Alabama on Jan. 31, 2013.

Landers began the campaign with 925 “Ws” in his 39 seasons as a collegiate head coach. That tally includes 82 victories secured in four seasons at Roane State Community College from 1975-79.

Landers enters Friday afternoon’s game at Mississippi State 13 victories away from his 950th career win.

Hitting The Magic Number
The Lady Bulldogs’ 93-52 victory over Georgia Southern on Nov. 25 added another notch to one of the greatest statistical indicators in any sport.

Georgia improved to 432-6 when scoring 80 or more points during Andy Landers’ 36 seasons as the University of Georgia’s first – and still only – full-time women’s basketball head coach.

That equates to an almost unfathomable winning percentage of 98.630136986301.

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Greg is closing in on 10 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.