MBB: Georgia vs. Auburn 2021 Preview

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MBB: Georgia vs. Auburn 2021 Preview

Georgia basketball player Sahvir Wheeler (2) during the Bulldogs' game at Arkansas on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021. (Photo by Gunnar Rathbun)
Georgia basketball player Sahvir Wheeler (2) during the Bulldogs’ game at Arkansas on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021. (Photo by Gunnar Rathbun)

Georgia (7-3, 0-3 SEC) vs. Auburn (6-6, 0-4 SEC)

Wednesday, January 13, at 7:00 p.m. ET

Stegeman Coliseum (1,638) in Athens, Ga.





Series History: AU leads, 96-95

Last Meeting: UGA, 65-55, on Feb. 19, 2020

Watch: SEC Network (Roy Philpott, play-by-play; Mark Wise, analyst)





Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network Flagship: WSB AM 750 Atlanta; XM: 190; Internet: 961 (Scott Howard, play-by-play; Chuck Dowdle, analyst; Adam Gillespie, producer)

The Starting Five

• Georgia is the only Division I MBB team – of the 345 that have played games this season – with six players currently sporting double-figure scoring averages.

• Toumani Camara and Sahvir Wheeler enter the week tied for the SEC lead with four double-doubles. Camara’s are point-board. Wheeler’s are point-assist.

• Sahvir Wheeler’s four point-assist double-doubles in the first nine games equaled the second-best single-season total by any SEC player in the 2000s.

• 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.

• Seven different Bulldogs have scored in double figures this season, combining to produce 41 double-digit performances in just 10 games.

The Opening Tip

The Georgia Bulldogs – America’s most balanced offensive Division I basketball team – return to action on Wednesday evening when they host Auburn at Stegeman Coliseum. The Bulldogs enter this week as the only D-I men’s hoops program with six players sporting double-figure scoring averages. Through Sunday, 345 men’s basketball teams had played games during the 2020-21 season. 

The Bulldogs are 7-3 overall. 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.

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

Justin Kier is…

• 5 assists from 250 for his career

• 12 rebounds from 600 for his career

Andrew Garcia is…

• 110 points from 1,000 for his career

• 37 rebounds for 500 for his career

Series History With Auburn

Following last season’s double-digit upset over Auburn before a sold-out Stegeman Coliseum, Georgia possesses a 62-27 advantage in all-time meetings with the Tigers in Athens. AU owns a slim 96-95 lead in overall series between the interstate rivals on the hardwood. 

In last season’s matchup on Feb. 19, Georgia grabbed the lead late in the first half and led the entire second stanza en route to a 65-55 upset over No. 13/12 Auburn.

The Bulldogs took the lead for good on an Anthony Edwards 3-pointer that put them up 25-23 with 3:55 left in the first half.

Georgia pushed that advantage to double digits at the 14:55 mark of the second half and never allowed Auburn closer than three points the rest of the evening, lastly at 43-40 with 10:12 remaining.

Toumani Camara hit several clutch free throws down the stretch. He entered the contest shooting 56.1 percent from the line on the season but was 10-of-12 against the Tigers.

Scouting The Tigers

Auburn arrives in Athens with a 6-6 overall record and an 0-4 mark in SEC play, most recently dropping a 94-90 home decision to Alabama last Saturday afternoon.

The Tigers opened the season with an overtime victory against Saint Joseph’s before back-to-back setbacks to Gonzaga and UCF. Following a five-game winning streak, Auburn has come up short in each of its first four league outings by an average of 7.3 ppg. 

Sharife Cooper played his first game of the season against the Tide and sports a one-outing, team-best average of 26.0 ppg. Jamal Johnson (15.5 ppg), Allen Flanigan (14.5 ppg) and Jaylin Williams (11.0 ppg) also are scoring at a double-digit. Flanigan is Auburn’s top performer on the glass, averaging 6.8 rpg.

Last Time out

Arkansas broke open a close game early in the second half and scored 56 second-half points in a 99-69 win over Georgia at Bud Walton Arena last Saturday.

Toumani Camara and Andrew Garcia paced a quartet of double-figure scorers for the Bulldogs with 15 points apiece. Garcia added a game- and season-high 11 rebounds to notch his first double-double for the Bulldogs.

Camara was plagued by foul trouble. After scoring eight points in the opening 2:25, he stopped the clock with his second foul with 15:36 remaining in the first period. 

Camara was whistled three more times in 6:58 of playing time in the second half, fouling out with 10:02 left in the game.

America’s Most Balanced Offense

Georgia is the only Division I basketball team in the nation with six players averaging double figures entering this week. Through Sunday, 345 D-I teams had begun their 2020-21 campaign. 

Bulldogs Toumani Camara, Sahvir Wheeler, Justin Kier, Andrew Garcia, P.J. Horne and Tye Fagan represented the only sextet 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 41 double-digit scoring outputs during Georgia’s first 10 games.

Following the Bulldogs, there were 24 teams with five double-digit scorers as of Monday morning, including Arkansas, Auburn and Kentucky from the SEC.

A Really, Really Close Rivalry

Wednesday’s game will be the 192nd between the Bulldogs and the Tigers, with Auburn owning a 96-95 advantage.

With a victory this evening, Georgia would knot the series for the sixth time in the 2000s. Auburn claimed an 81-80 lead entering this century by winning consecutive games in 1998 and 1999 and then won the first date in the 2000s as well.

The Bulldogs knotted the series at 84-84 in 2005 and again at 85-85 in 2007. After Georgia surged ahead, the Tigers’ win in 2010 brought the record to 87-87.

Following consecutive wins by the Bulldogs, Auburn scratched the series mark to 90-90 in 2015. Georgia won three of the next four matchups to secure a 94-91 lead through the 2017 campaign.

The Tigers then put together five consecutive wins – their third-longest sting of success against Georgia – to go up 96-94 before the Bulldogs’ 65-55 upset last Feb. 19.

While the overall series is close, the location of the game has had a dramatic difference in success. Georgia owns a 62-27 edge in Athens, while the Tigers are 62-25 against UGA on The Plains. The Bulldogs possess an 8-7 lead in neutral site affairs.

New Faces In New Places

There are no less than 14 first-year players in Wednesday’s game. Georgia has eight new Bulldogs, while Auburn brings six first-year Tigers to Stegeman Coliseum. 

Of note, this is the Bulldogs’ fourth straight SEC game where neither roster included a true senior.

Georgia’s octet newcomers features a representative of every class – freshmen K.D. Johnson and Josh Taylor, sophomore Tyron McMillan, juniors Jonathan Ned and Mikal Starks; and graduate transfer seniors Andrew Garcia, P.J. Horne and Justin Kier.

The half-dozen Tiger newcomers for the 2020-21 season are all freshmen.

A New Face To SEE the Court

Freshman K.D. Johnson, a consensus top-100 prospect in the Class of 2020, became immediately eligible play this season it was announced on Monday (Jan. 11).

Johnson announced on social media platforms: “Thank you to the NCAA for granting me immediate eligibility and allowing me to play basketball this season. I will not comment on the waiver, but look forward to a great rest of the season with my teammates.”

Head coach Tom Crean stated: “We’re extremely excited to have K.D. eligible. Probably the only people more excited than me are K.D. and his mother, Jada. K.D. has been with us every day in workouts and practices since last summer and has been incredibly patient and mature throughout this process. I would like to thank NCAA for their efforts as we worked to reach this resolution.”

Dogs’ Double-Double Tandem

Georgia’s Toumani Camara and Sahvir Wheeler are the only SEC teammates with four double-doubles each this season.

Camara’s double-double efforts are of the point-rebound variety and came versus Montana, Cincinnati, Mississippi State and LSU.

Wheeler opened the campaign with a trio of point-assist efforts against Florida A&M, North Georgia and Jacksonville. He is believed to be the first SEC player with three straight point-assist double-doubles Mississippi State’s Chuck Evans in 1993. 

Following a scoring review, he picked up a 10th assist – and a fourth double-double – in last week’s overtime loss at LSU. Wheeler now has the second-most point-assist double-doubles in a season by any SEC player in the 2000s as outlined below.





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