MBB: Georgia vs. Arkansas Preview

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MBB: Georgia vs. Arkansas Preview

Mikal Starks
Mikal Starks

Georgia (7-2, 0-2 SEC) vs. Arkansas (9-2, 1-2 SEC)

Saturday, January 9, at 3:30 p.m. ET

Bud Walton Arena (19,368) in Fayetteville, Ark.

Series History: UA leads, 23-16

Last Meeting: UGA, 99-89, on Feb. 29, 2020

Watch: SEC Network (Kevin Fitzgerald, play-by-play; Dane Bradshaw, analyst)

Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network Flagship: WSB AM 750 Atlanta; XM: 382; Internet: 972 (Scott Howard, play-by-play; Chuck Dowdle, analyst; Adam Gillespie, producer)

The Starting Five

• Georgia is one of three D-I MBB teams – of 345 that have played this season – with six players currently averaging double figures in the scoring column.

• The combined rosters of UGA & UA feature 20 players in their first seasons competing as Dogs and Hogs; however, neither team has a fourth-year senior.

• Toumani Carama is tied for the league lead and is tied at No. 16 nationally with four double-doubles. All of those have come in the Bulldogs’ last six games.

• Sahvir Wheeler’s three double-digit assist outings in the first three games of the season were as many as any SEC player posted in all of 2019-20.

• 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 treks to the Western half of the SEC for the second time four days on Saturday when the Bulldogs visit Arkansas in Fayetteville for a Saturday matinee matchup with the Razorbacks. On Wednesday, Georgia dropped a gut-wrenching, 94-92 overtime decision at LSU. 

The Bulldogs are now 7-2 on the season. Georgia began the 2020-21 campaign with a 7-0 start that was the program’s best beginning in 38 years…since Georgia’s 1982-83 Final Four season.

The Bulldogs are one of the nation’s most balanced offensive basketball teams. Through Thursday’s games, Georgia was one of only three NCAA Division I men’s basketball programs with six players averaging double figures in the scoring column along with UCLA and Merrimack. FYI, as of Friday morning there were 345 teams that had played games this season.

Keeping An Eye On . . . Entering Tonight’s Game: 

Justin Kier is…

• 7 assists from 250 for his career

• 14 rebounds from 600 for his career

Andrew Garcia is…

• 125 points from 1,000 for his career

• 48 rebounds for 500 for his career

Series History With Arkansas

Arkansas owns a 23-16 lead in the all-time series with the Bulldogs, including an 11-3 edge in games contested in Fayetteville.

Last season on Feb. 29 in Athens, Georgia raced to a 14-0 lead to open the game and then withstood numerous Arkansas attempts to rally as the Bulldogs secured a 99-89 victory before a sold-out Stegeman Coliseum.

The Bulldogs earned their largest lead of the evening at 36-18 with 8:24 left in the first half before the Razorbacks trimmed the gap to 47-39 at the intermission.

Arkansas pulled within a single point three times in the second period, but the Bulldogs answered on each occasion – with a Rayshaun Hammonds three-point play, an acrobatic layup from Tyree Crump and a layup by Hammonds.

Anthony Edwards took over late, scoring 10 of his game-high 26 points in the final 4:30 as Georgia pushed a three-point lead to a 10-point margin of victory.

In the Bulldogs’ most recent trip to Fayetteville on Jan. 29, 2019, Arkansas pulled away late en route to a 70-60 win over Georgia in a back-and-forth contest that featured seven ties and seven lead changes.

With the score tied 52-52, an Isaiah Joe 3-pointer initiated an 18-8 surge the rest of the way.

Scouting The Hogs

Arkansas is 9-2 overall and 1-2 in the SEC entering Saturday’s game. 

The Razorbacks were one of the league’s last undefeated teams, racing to a 9-0 start to the 2020-21 season before dropping back-to-back decisions to ranked SEC foes. Arkansas’ initial setback came to No. 12 Missouri last Saturday before the Razorbacks lost to No. 9 Tennessee in Knoxville on Wednesday.

Like Georgia, Arkansas features an extremely balanced offensive attack. 

Five Razorbacks are contributing double-figure scoring averages – Moses Moody 15.9 ppg, JD Notae 15.7 ppg, Desi Sills 12.1 ppg, Justin Smith 11.6 ppg and Jalen Tate 10.4 ppg – while Connor Vanover is eight points shy of also scoring at a double-digit clip (102 points in 11 games for a 9.3 ppg average). Of note, Smith is currently out of action after suffering an ankle injury in Arkansas’ SEC opener at Auburn on Dec. 30.

Last Time out

LSU outscored Georgia 14-12 in overtime en route to a 94-92 win over the Bulldogs at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Wednesday night.

Justin Kier and Sahvir Wheeler led the Bulldogs with 25 and 21 points, respectively, while Toumani Camara added his fourth double-double in the last five games with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

The back-and-forth affair featured no less than 20 lead changes and nine ties – including at halftime (42-42) and obviously at the end of regulation (80-80).

The Bulldogs earned the game’s biggest advantage at 68-58 on a breakaway dunk by Kier with 9:07 remaining. Following an LSU timeout, the Tigers recorded back-to-back old-fashioned three-point plays to trim the gap to four points just 67 seconds later.

Georgia led 80-74 following a Wheeler 3-pointer with 1:57 left, but Javonte Smart’s back-to-back 3-pointers tied the scored and forced the extra session.

The Unofficial SEC Tourney Title

Georgia and Arkansas were the two Wednesday night winners at the 2020 SEC Tournament in Nashville last March.

On March 11, the Bulldogs bested Ole Miss, 81-63, in the evening’s first outing before the Razorbacks downed Vanderbilt, 86-73. The following morning, the remainder of the tourney was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Certain jokesters declared Georgia and Arkansas as the tourney’s co-champions, making Saturday’s matchup what those folks would consider a 2020 SEC Tourney title tilt.

America’s Most Balanced Offenses

Georgia, UCLA and Merrimack entered this weekend as the only Division I basketball teams in the nation with six players averaging double figures.

Through Thursday, 345 D-I teams had begun their 2020-21 seasons. Bulldogs Toumani Camara, Sahvir Wheeler, Tye Fagan, Justin Kier, P.J. Horne and Andrew Garcia represented one of only three sextets of teammates contributing 10 or more points to their team’s offensive production.

All told, seven different Bulldogs – add Christian Brown to the ledger above – have combined to notch 37 double-digit scoring outputs during Georgia’s first nine games.

Of note: 1) the double-figure Bruins are Jaime Jaquez Jr., Chris Smith, Jonny Juzang, Tyger Campbell, Cody Riley and Jules Bernard; and 2) Merrimack has only played one game this season.

Following the Bulldogs, Bruins and Warriors, there were 20 teams with five double-digit scorers as of Friday morning, including Arkansas.

Dogs, Hogs Tops In Points & Boards

Georgia and Arkansas both are near the top SEC statistics for scoring and rebounding.

The Razorbacks are the league’s most potent offensive, averaging 87.2 ppg, while the Bulldogs’ 81.4 ppg is No. 3. Nationally, they ranked No. 10 and No. 38 as of Friday.

Georgia is currently No. 2 in the SEC in rebounding margin at +9.3 rpg, slightly better than Arkansas, which is No. 3 at +9.1. Those efforts were No. 23 and No. 24 in rankings for all D-I teams entering this weekend.

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