The Georgia men’s basketball team will have their hands full tomorrow as they are set to square off against Samford at 7 p.m. at Stegeman Coliseum.
The visiting Bulldogs (2-1) are a high-intensity, scoring machine as they average 90 points per game. The home Bulldogs come into Saturday night’s matchup undefeated as they average 82.5 points per contest. This game is expected to be a fast-paced match because both teams score a majority of their points in transition.
Samford made headlines on Nov. 25 when the team scored an astounding 174 points against Greenville College in an exhibition matchup. Even though it was against weaker competition, that’s still a very hard thing to do in today’s game. The Bulldogs averaged nearly 4.4 points per minute in that contest.
That’s something that makes Georgia head coach Tom Crean a little nervous heading into Saturday night’s game.
“When you score 174 points in a game, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing against; you have a high-powered offense,” Crean said on Friday. “So we’re going to have to do a great job defensively.”
Georgia’s defense has looked stout through the first four games, which is credited to Crean harping on the importance of deflections and rebounds. On the other end, the Bulldogs are playing a fast-paced offensive game as well, which has been on display several times this season. Last week, the Bulldogs scored 98 points against Jacksonville.
Although, Georgia did prove that they can win at a much slower game pace as they routed Montana on Tuesday, 63-50. The Bulldogs jumped out to a quick lead, but shot poorly the rest of the night; so, that played a factor as well as 18 turnovers in a lower-scoring contest. That’s something that needs to change if Georgia wants to stand a chance against Samford.
The key to beat a team like Samford is to slow them down, much like how NFL teams try to steady the pace of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense. But that’s one thing that Crean doesn’t want to do.
“No, we want to play fast. No doubt about it, we want to go fast,” Crean said. “For us, it’s going to be the ol’ John Wooden, ‘be quick, but don’t hurry.’ We can’t get in a situation where we get all rushed and do those types of things. We’ve got to get good shots, very good shots. But at the same time, we’ve got to challenge them.”
It seems like this matchup is about equivalent to a ‘track meet’ if both teams play to their strengths. Hopefully the home Bulldogs aren’t too worn out headed into this game, because it’s their fifth in two weeks. Plus, finals week started at UGA on Friday, so there’s that looming on the players’ minds.
Still, it seems like Georgia is ready to battle, according to graduate senior P.J. Horne.
“We’re going to be ready and we are ready to play,” Horne said. “..It’s probably going to be a battle of wills. Obviously they play really fast. We play really fast also. It’s going to be a matter of who can execute better and who can put stops together.”
Crean said his players are eager to compete against a team that scored nearly 200 points.
“They find it exhilarating and exciting,” Crean said. “The only one that’s real uptight and apprehensive would be the head coach, being me, when you see a team score like they do.”