Georgia vs. Texas A&M
Thursday, January 22, 2015 at 7 p.m. ET
Stegeman Coliseum (10,523) in Athene, Ga.
Video: SET Network+; Matt Stewart, play-by-play; Brittany Northcutt, analyst
Radio: Georgia Bulldog Radio Network (AM 960 The Ref in Athens & 103.7 FM from Gainesville); Jeff Dantzler, play-by-play[break] [break]
• TAMU is 4-0 all-time against UGA, including a 2-0 record in Athens
• Sunday’s win over Vanderbilt guaranteed UGA its 36th straight winning season, third-longest active streak in NCAA DI
• No. 10 TAMU is the first of four straight ranked foes for UGA, followed by No. 5 UT, No. 14 UK and No. 1 SC
• UGA is four 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 145 points from 1,000
• Erika Ford is 213 points from 1,000
Lady Bulldog Basketball is…
• 4 wins from the 900th victory in program history
Andy Landers is…
• 9 victories from his 950th win as a collegiate head coach[break] [break]
UGA Begins Run Of Ranked Foes
The No. 22-ranked Georgia Lady Bulldogs open a challenging four-game stretch by hosting No. 10 Texas A&M at Stegeman Coliseum on Thursday evening. The Aggies are the first of four straight foes which have spent a good bit of the 2014-15 season ranked among the nation’s top-10 teams.
Following Thursday’s game, the Lady Bulldogs will trek to No. 5 Tennessee on Sunday. After an open date next Thursday, Georgia will visit No. 14 Kentucky on Super Bowl Sunday. Top-ranked South Carolina visits Stegeman Coliseum on 5 to put a nice bow on the quartet of contests.
The Lady Bulldogs are looking to protect their perfect 11-0 home record this season and extend a 17-game home winning streak. This season, Georgia has won its home outings by an impressive average of 19.7 ppg. The overall home streak dates back just over a calendar year ago to a Jan. 16, 2014, victory over Arkansas. Texas A&M was the last team to defeat the Lady Bulldogs at Stegeman Coliseum, a 58-44 decision on Jan. 12 last year.
Georgia improved to 16-3 overall and 4-2 in SEC action with Sunday’s 64-53 win over Vanderbilt. Shacobia Barbee’s double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds led four Lady Bulldogs in double figures against Vandy.
Barbee tops the Lady Bulldogs in scoring at 12.4 ppg, while Tiaria Griffin is contributing 11.4 ppg. Krista Donald is Georgia’s top rebounder at 7.4 rpg.
Griffin is averaging a team-high 11.8 ppg SEC play and was last week’s SEC Co-Player of the Week after averaging 16.0 ppg in wins over Missouri and Auburn. She leads the league in 3-point percentage against league opposition at 41.1 percent.
All told, eight different Lady Bulldogs – Barbee, Marjorie Butler, Donald, Mackenzie Engram, Erika Ford, Griffin, Merritt Hempe and PachisRoberts – have combined to score in double figures 50 times for Georgia.
Texas A&M also is 16-3 on the year but 4-1 in league play. The Aggies’ lone SEC setback was at Tennessee.
A&M’s duo of junior Courtneys leads the Aggies. Courtney Walker averages a team-high 14.7 ppg, while Courtney Williams contributes 14.3 ppg. Jordan James averages an eye-catching 6.8 apg, a full 2.0 more than any other player in the SEC. Achiri Ade paces A&M in rebounding at 8.6 rpg.[break] [break]
Quoting Coach Landers…[break] [break]
On Georgia’s Next 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.”
On The Setback at Ole Miss…
“Texas A&M is very, very good. They’re excellent on the defensive end. They do a terrific job of keeping the ball in front of them. They’re excellent in the full-court defensively. Offensively, they’re a different team than any of the others in our conference. They’re driven by excellent guard play, guards that have the ability to get the ball to the rim and finish, have the ability to stop along the way and knock down the pull-up jump shot. They’re very good at both. You have to keep them in front of you and you have to keep them close.”
Series History versus The Aggies
Texas A&M owns a 4-0 lead in its series with Georgia, including a 2-0 mark in Athens and a home-and-home sweep last season.
On Jan. 12 in Athens, Courtney Walker scored 16 points and Achiri Ade grabbed 16 rebounds to lead A&M to a 58-44 win. In the rematch in College Station on Feb. 13., No. 14 Texas A&M rallied from a six-point deficit with just over a minute to play to force overtime and eventually topped Georgia 78-73.
Merritt Hempe led Georgia with a career-high 19 points in College Station. Tiaria Griffin added 13 points, Krista Donald scored 10 points in 44 minutes of action and Shacobia Barbee grabbed a game-high 12 boards.
The Aggies led for only 1:04 of regulation, at 2-0 and 38-35, but scored the first four points of overtime at the foul line and rallied again after Georgia regained the lead.
Georgia used an 11-0 run to grab and early lead and gradually extended that margin to 27-11 before leading 29-17 at the half.
Despite a sluggish start to the second stanza, Georgia was still up 35-25 with 13:51 remaining before a 13-0 Aggie surge put A&M up 38-35 just 2:52 later.
Griffin knocked down a 3-pointer to knot the score and ignite a 16-6 Georgia run covering 2:35 that put the Lady Bulldogs back on top 51-44.
Georgia led 62-56 with 1:26 left following a Donald jumper, but Texas A&M then scored the final six points of regulation and the first four of the overtime period en route to securing the victory.
One month and one day earlier in Athens, Shacobia Barbee led the Lady Bulldogs in the scoring column with 16 points in the loss to the Aggies.
The Aggies turned several Lady Bulldog turnovers into eight fast break points to open up a 17-8 lead midway through the first half. A&M eventually led 31-17 at the intermission, largely due to the Aggies shooting 45.2 percent from the floor and Georgia connecting on just 3-of-11 free throws during the period.
Last Time Out
Backed by a second-half effort and 14 points from Shacobia Barbee, No. 18 Georgia defeated Vanderbilt 64-53 on Sunday.
Barbee paced UGA with 14 points and 11 rebounds, her fourth double-double of the season and the 11th of her career, while Krista Donald (13), Marjorie Butler (11) and Merritt Hempe (11) also chipped in double figures.
Turnovers were key to the outcome of the game, as the Lady Bulldogs turned 23 Commodore miscues into 28 points. In comparison, Vanderbilt scored seven points off 13 Georgia turnovers.
“Today we took really good care of the ball,” Andy Landers said. “I thought we were doing a nice job of managing things for the most part, and then we made our free throws.”
Mackenzie Engram’s 3-pointer at the 7:37 mark of the first half sparked a 13-5 run that put Georgia up 25-19.
With the Lady Bulldogs clinging to a 35-34 lead, Barbee took over. She scored on a jumper, a layup and a 3-pointer. Moments later, a Barbee steal and layup gave Georgia a 12-point lead with 2:55 on the clock, its largest advantage of the game.
First 4-Game Ranked Dates since ‘03
Georgia’s next four contests 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.
First back-to-back top-10 foes since ‘13
Georgia will face No. 10 Texas A&M and No. 5 Tennessee this week.
The last time Georgia met top-10 teams in back-to-back games was during the 2013 NCAA Tournament when the 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.”
Converting FTs big in tight games
To date, eight of Georgia’s 19 games this season have been decided by single digits.
In the six games the Lady Bulldogs have won against TCU, Ohio State, Georgia Tech, Michigan State, Furman and Auburn, UGA has converted on 93-of-130 trips to the line. That’s a very solid 71.5 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.
A Winning Record Secured
Sunday’s victory over Vanderbilt guaranteed the Lady Bulldogs of their 36th consecutive winning season.
While that seems like a small accomplishment for a 16-3 team, 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 (15-3) and Wisconsin-Green Bay (13-3).
Griffin Earns SEC Accolade
Tiaria Griffin was named SEC Co-Player of the Week last Monday 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 is No. 15 in scoring (11.8 ppg), No. 1 in 3-point pct. (41.4) and No. 5 in 3-pointers per game (2.0).
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.