Georgia vs. Tennessee
Sunday, January 25, 2015 at 2 p.m. ET
Thompson-Boling Arena (21,678) in Knoxville, Tenn.
TV: SET Network; Paul Sunderland, play-by-play; Nell Fortner, analyst
Radio: Georgia Bulldog Radio Network (AM 960 The Ref in Athens & 103.7 FM from Gainesville); Jeff Dantzler, play-by-play[break] [break]
• UT leads the series with UGA 45-15, including a 19-4 mark in Knoxville
• UGA’s Andy Landers (Maryville), Shacobia Barbee (Murfreesboro) & Marjorie Butler (Knoxville) are Tennessee natives
• UT is the second of four straight ranked foes for UGA, which played No. 10 TAMU on 1/22 and follows today against No. 14 UK and No. 1 SC
• UGA is three wins shy of the Lady Bulldogs’ 900th all-time victory
• 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[break] [break]
Keeping An Eye On…entering today’s game:[break] [break]
Millennium point watch…
• Shacobia Barbee is 140 points from 1,000
• Erika Ford is 211 points from 1,000
Lady Bulldog Basketball is…
• 3 wins from the 900th victory in program history
Andy Landers is…
• 8 victories from his 950th win as a collegiate head coach[break] [break]
Georgia Continues Ranked Run
No. 22 Georgia continues a four-game stretch against opponents which have spent a good bit of time in the top-10 this season on Sunday afternoon when the Lady Bulldogs travel to Knoxville to face No. 5 Tennessee at 2 p.m. ET.[break] [break]
On Thursday, Georgia upset No. 10 Texas A&M to improve to a perfect 12-0 at home this season and extend the Lady Bulldogs’ winning streak at Stegeman Coliseum to 18 games. Following an open date on Thursday, Georgia will face No. 14 Kentucky in Lexington next Sunday. Top-ranked South Carolina visits Stegeman Coliseum on Feb. 5 to put a bow on the quartet of contests.[break] [break]
Georgia improved to 17-3 overall and 5-2 in SEC action with the victory over the Aggies. Freshman Mackenzie Engram led Georgia with 16 points, her sixth double-figure outing of the season and highest SEC point production to date.[break] [break]
Shacobia Barbee, who has come off the bench for UGA’s last two outings and three of the past five games, tops the Lady Bulldogs in scoring at 12.0 ppg. Tiaria Griffin is contributing 11.2 ppg overall and a team-high 11.3 ppg in SEC play. Krista Donald is Georgia’s top rebounder at 7.2 rpg.[break] [break]
All told, eight different Lady Bulldogs – Barbee, Marjorie Butler, Donald, Engram, Erika Ford, Griffin, Merritt Hempe and Pachis Roberts – have combined to score in double figures 52 times for Georgia.[break] [break]
Tennessee upped its records to 16-3 overall and 6-0 in the SEC with Thursday’s 75-58 win over LSU.[break] [break]
Isabelle Harrison paces a balanced offensive attack for the Lady Vols at 12.4 ppg and also averages a team-high 8.9 rpg. Ariel Massengale scores at a double-digit clip of 11.5 ppg, while Cierra Burdick and Bashara Graves both chip in 9.6 ppg.[break] [break]
Harrison also leads Tennessee in SEC play at 12.2 ppg and 8.5 rpg. Four Lady Volunteers are scoring in double figures in league action, with Massengale at 11.3 ppg, Andraya Carter at 11.2 ppg and Burdick at 10.5 ppg.[break] [break]
Quoting Coach Landers[break] [break]
On Traveling To Knoxville…
“I’ve always thought that competitors like that kind of environment, that kind of challenge. If a team can focus on the game, the game is the same. Being able to manage the environment as you play becomes important. There’s a grocery list of things (we have to do to win). First, you have to get back and control some transition. You don’t want to give up easy baskets. You don’t want to turn the ball over on the perimeter that might lead to easy baskets. As always, you have to rebound the basketball. And you have to make free throws. You would like to win all three of those critical areas.”
On Georgia’s Four Games against Higher Ranked Opponents…
“It is what it is. It’s the Southeastern Conference. It really doesn’t matter most nights who’s playing who, it’s going to be a competitive game and if you play reasonably well, you’re going to have a chance to win. More often than not, we’re the favorite. It’s kind of enjoyable to be the underdog, I guess, but it really doesn’t change the way you prepare or the way you intend to play. The important things remain important regardless of who you’re playing.”[break] [break]
Series History versus Tennessee
Tennessee sports a 45-15 lead in the overall series with the Lady Bulldogs, including a 19-4 edge in Knoxville.
The Lady Volunteers and Texas A&M (4-1) are the only SEC teams with a winning record over Georgia.
On the flip side, the Lady Bulldogs’ 15 victories over Tennessee represents the second-most by any women’s basketball program…tying Maryville College and trailing only 17 wins by Louisiana Tech.
Last season on Jan. 5 in Athens, a 21-0 rally by No. 19 Georgia trimmed a 27-point deficit to just six points with 72 seconds left before No. 5 Tennessee made 9-of-10 free throws down the stretch to secure an 85-70 win over the Lady Bulldogs.
Tennessee used an 8-0 run midway through the first half to break open a 17-17 tie and gain some distance on the scoreboard.
Early in the second half, Ariel Massengale poured in 17 of her game-high 28 points during a 28-5 surge that put the Lady Volunteers up 67-39 with 11:45 remaining.
Georgia trailed 76-49 at the 7:39 mark but exploded on a 21-0 run that cut the gap to 76-70 with 1:12 on the clock.
Massengale made both ends of a one-and-one with 70 seconds left to open Tennessee’s clutch 9-of-10 effort at the line.
In the most recent meeting in Knoxville on Jan. 6, 2013, No. 12 Tennessee utilized three 9-0 runs in the second half to erase a halftime deficit and defeat No. 10 Georgia, 79-66.
Jasmine James equaled her season high with 18 points and climbed to No. 20 among UGA’s career scoring leaders in the process.
Georgia led for the majority of the first half and owned a 42-40 advantage at intermission.
Tennessee scored the first nine points of the second stanza as the Lady Bulldogs missed their first eight shots from the floor. James scored eight straight to close the gap to 52-50 at the 12:37 mark, but Kamiko Williams’ short jumper opened a 12-3 surge that put Tennessee up 66-53 just 3:44 later.[break] [break]
Last Time Out
Behind a 16-point performance from freshman Mackenzie Engram, the No. 22 Georgia Lady Bulldogs upset No. 10 Texas A&M 54-51 on Thursday night in Stegeman Coliseum.
“It’s a confidence booster game,” Shacobia Barbee said.
Engram’s night including shooting 5-for-7 from the field, 2-for-2 from behind the arc and 4-for-4 from the line. Marjorie Butler equaled her career high with 11 points.
Georgia outscored the Aggies 20-8 in the paint and 23-9 off the bench.
Georgia never trailed in the first half and led by as many as nine points before owning a 27-21 lead at the break.
The Aggies rallied in the second period, taking a one-point lead with less than eight minutes to play. Tiaria Griffin was fouled on a 3-point attempt and converted a trio of shots at the line to put Georgia back on top.
Up 48-47 with three minutes to play, a layup from Hempe and a steal by Barbee that resulted in a Griffin layup put Georgia on top by five with 1:38 to play.
The Aggies pulled within a point with 18 seconds to play; however, Butler hit a pair of free throws and Jordan Jones’ potential game-tying 3-pointer barely drew iron.[break] [break]
First 4-Game Ranked Dates since ‘03
Georgia’s stretch of four consecutive games against ranked foes will mark the first time in more than a decade that the Lady Bulldogs have face four straight top-25 teams.
In February 2003, Georgia played five consecutive ranked opponents. In succession, UGA defeated No. 15 South Carolina, lost to No. 18 Vanderbilt and No. 3 Tennessee, beat No. 15 Arkansas and the fell at No. 12 Mississippi State.
All told, the Lady Bulldogs have played four or more ranked teams in a row eight times during Andy Landers’ 36 seasons in Athens.[break] [break]
UGA vs. UT again a ranked affair
Today’s game will be the 61st between the Lady Bulldogs and the Lady Volunteers and will mark the 51st time that both teams entered the contest ranked in the Associated Press poll.
That should come as no surprise considering Tennessee and Georgia are 1-2, respectively, in weeks ranked by the AP. The Lady Vols have been included in 683 weekly polls, while the Lady Bulldogs have been featured 519 times.
With Tennessee currently at No. 5, either UGA or UT was ranked in the top-10 for 58 of the 61 matchups, including 18 times when both were featured in the top 10.[break] [break]
A high stakes rivalry
It would be difficult to find two conference rivals in basketball – if not in any sport – who have met for as many significant stakes as the Lady Bulldogs and the Lady Volunteers.
Georgia and Tennessee have squared off in virtually everything fathomable, including:
• The 1996 NCAA Championship;
• The 1995 Final Four NCAA semis;
• The “Elite Eight” in 1983 and 1984;
• The “Sweet 16” in 1986;
• The championship game of the 1992 and 1999 SEC Tournaments.
In addition, UGA and UT produced the only tie for the SEC title in 2000.[break] [break]
Crossing state lines
Georgia’s roster features Tennessee natives Shacobia Barbee and Marjorie Butler, while the Lady Volunteers’ ledger includes Peach State native Andraya Carter.
Barbee and Butler combined to secure three Miss Tennessee Basketball trophies during their prep careers.
Barbee was the Class AAA honoree as both a junior in and a senior at Riverdale High School in Murfreesboro. She also was MVP of the 2009 and 2012 AAA State Tournaments.
Butler, a Knoxville native who starred at The Webb School, was Miss Tennessee for Division II-Class A as a junior but then missed the vast majority of her senior year due to a knee injury.
Carter helped lead Buford High School to a trio of Georgia AA state titles and was the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Player of the Year in 2011.
In addition, Georgia coach Andy Landers is a native of Maryville, just south of Knoxville.
A Riverdale Lady Warrior Reunion
Georgia junior Shacobia Barbee and Tennessee freshman Alexa Middleton were teammates at Riverdale High for two highly successful seasons.
Barbee and Middleton helped the Lady Warriors to a combined 68-5 record and Powerade Fab 50 national finishes of No. 27 in 2010-11 and No. 5 in 2011-12.
In 2010-11, Barbee averaged 17.9 ppg and 8.9 rpg in leading Riverdale to a 34-2 finish and a runner-up showing in the state tourney. In three state tourney games that season, Barbee averaged 13.7 ppg and 12.0 rpg, while Middleton contributed 8.7 ppg.
In 2011-12, Barbee averaged 15.1 ppg, 9.6 rpg and 4.4 spg as the Lady Warriors secured the AAA state title with a 34-3 record. In Riverdale’s state tournament outings, Barbee put up 18.3 ppg and 9.3 rpg and Middleton averaged 13.3 ppg.[break] [break]
Home Win Streak Stretched to 18
Georgia improved to 12-0 at home this season and extended its winning streak at Stegeman Coliseum to 18 outings with Thursday’s win over No. 10 Texas A&M.
This season, Georgia has won its home outings by an impressive average of 18.3 ppg.
The overall home streak dates back to a Jan. 16 victory over Arkansas and includes four upsets from a rankings standpoint – victories over No. 13 Kentucky and No. 19 LSU last season and No. 16 Michigan State and No. 10 Texas A&M in 2014-15.[break] [break]
First back-to-back top-10 foes since ‘13
Georgia travels to No. 5 Tennessee after defeating No. 10 Texas A&M, the first time UGA has back consecutive top-10 teams since the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
The last time Georgia met back-to-back top-10 teams was in 2013 when No. 14-ranked Lady Bulldogs upset No. 4 Stanford, 61-59, in the “Sweet 16” before falling to No. 6 Cal, 65-62 in overtime, in the “Elite Eight.”[break] [break]
Converting FTs big in tight games
To date, nine of Georgia’s 20 games this season have been decided by single digits.
In seven wins over TCU, Ohio State, Georgia Tech, Michigan State, Furman, Auburn and Texas A&M UGA has converted on 106-of-148 trips to the line, a solid 71.6 percent.
In losses at Mississippi State and Ole Miss, Georgia was just 15-of-28 from the line, which is just a 53.6 percent conversion rate.[break] [break]
A Winning Record Secured
A Jan. 18 victory over Vanderbilt guaranteed the Lady Bulldogs of their 36th consecutive winning season.
While that seems like a small accomplishment for a team that was then 16-3, it should be noted that Georgia is one of just three Division I basketball programs to post a winning record every season since women’s intercollegiate athletics came under the auspices of the NCAA in 1981. The other are Tennessee (16-3) and Wisconsin-Green Bay (14-3 entering Saturday’s game at Detroit).[break] [break]
Griffin Earns SEC Accolade
Tiaria Griffin was named SEC Co-Player of the Week on Jan. 12 – along with Tennessee’s Cierra Burdick – after leading Georgia in victories over Missouri and Auburn.
Griffin scored a team-high 16 points in wins over both sets of Tigers. She did so by connecting on 50.0 percent of her 3-pointers and 87.5 percent of her free throws.
At Auburn, Griffin scored seven points in an 11-5 Georgia run that turned a one-point deficit into a five-point win. With the Lady Bulldogs trailing 47-46 with 3:44 remaining, Griffin hit back-to-back 3-pointers in a span of 55 seconds to put Georgia ahead for good. She also notched team highs of two assists and three steals versus the Tigers.
The accolade headlined a very hot start to SEC play by Griffin. She posted game-high tallies of 13 points at Mississippi State and 16 points against both Alabama and Missouri, as well as the team-high 16 at Auburn.
In stats for SEC games, Griffin leads UGA in scoring (11.3 ppg) and is No. 7 in 3-pointers per game (1.7).
That’s also a solid sign from a year ago when Griffin was the Lady Bulldogs’ leading scorer in non-conference play at 14.2 ppg but then averaged just 6.2 ppg in SEC action.