MBB: Georgia vs. Auburn Preview

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MBB: Georgia vs. Auburn Preview

Georgia basketball player K.D. Johnson (0) during a game against Auburn at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday, January 13, 2020. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Georgia basketball player K.D. Johnson (0) during a game against Auburn at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday, January 13, 2020. (Photo by Tony Walsh)

Georgia (10-6, 3-6 SEC) vs. Auburn (10-8, 4-5 SEC)

Tuesday, February 2, at 7:00 p.m. ET

Auburn Arena (9,121) in Auburn, Ala.

Series History: AU leads, 97-95

Last Meeting: AU, 95-77, on 1/13/21

Watch: SEC Network (Tom Hart, play-by-play; Jon Sunvold, analyst)

Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network Flagship: WSB AM 750 Atlanta; XM: 380; Internet: 970 (Scott Howard, play-by-play; Chuck Dowdle, analyst; Adam Gillespie, producer)

The Starting Five

• 5-10 Sahvir Wheeler is one of 55 D-I players with five or more double-doubles this season. He is the shortest of those players and one of two under 6-0.

• Andrew Garcia, who has scored in double figures in each of UGA’s last four games, is 48 points shy of reaching the 1,000-point career scoring mark.

• K.D. Johnson’s 21 points vs. Auburn were the third-most ever by UGA a freshman in their debut behind only Dominique Wilkins (26) & Anthony Edwards (24).

• Eight different Bulldogs have scored in double figures during the 2020-21 season, combining to produce 62 double-digit performances in UGA’s 16 games.

• UGA’s roster features eight newcomers with representative in every class – two freshmen, a sophomore, two juniors and a trio of senior graduate transfers.

The Opening Tip

The Georgia Bulldogs, coming off completing a season sweep of Ole Miss last Saturday, return to action on Tuesday night when they make the roughly three-hour, 185-mile trek on I-85 from Athens to face the Auburn Tigers on The Plains.

Tye Fagan and Sahvir Wheeler scored 13 points apiece to lead the Bulldogs in a 71-61 victory over the Rebels on Saturday. Two weeks earlier, Fagan’s 19-point performance paced Georgia en route to a 78-74 decision over Ole Miss in Oxford.

Georgia is now 10-6 overall and 3-6 in SEC play on the season.

Auburn also is a two-time foe for the Bulldogs. The Tigers defeated Georgia in Athens a day shy of three weeks ago at Stegeman Coliseum.

Georgia remains one of the nation’s most balanced offensive teams. Seven Bulldogs are scoring between 8.7-13.5 ppg.

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

Justin Kier is…

• 32 points from 1,300 for his career

Andrew Garcia is…

• 12 rebounds from 500 for his career

• 48 points from 1,000 for his career

Sahvir Wheeler is…

• 4 points from 500 for his career

• 6 assists from No. 20 Rod Cole (1989-90) among UGA’s single-season leaders

• 7 assists from co.- No. 19 Gino Gianfran-cesco (1972) and Barry Cohen (1971) among UGA’s single-season leaders

• 18 assists from No. 18 Gino Gianfrancesco among UGA’s career leaders

Series History With Auburn

Auburn owns a slim 97-95 edge in overall meetings between the Bulldogs and the Tigers, including a 62-25 advantage on The Plains.

Georgia hosted Auburn in Athens on Jan. 13, with the Tigers securing a 95-77 victory at Stegeman Coliseum.

K.D. Johnson poured in 21 points in his collegiate debut, the third-highest output ever by a freshman in their initial outing with the Bulldogs. Only Dominique Wilkins (26) and Anthony Edwards (24) scored more points than Johnson.

After trailing by 11 points at halftime, Georgia scored the first seven points following the intermission to pull within 45-41 with 18:36 remaining; however, the Tigers responded with a 22-3 surge to gain control.

In the most recent meeting in Auburn on Jan. 11 last season, No. 5 Auburn responded after a quick start by the Bulldogs to earn an 82-60 win.

Georgia built an early 14-6 lead before Auburn surged ahead 18-16 just over four minutes later. Following a Rayshaun Hammonds 3-pointer, the Tigers took the lead for good on a pair of free throws at the 5:33 mark of the first half.

Scouting The Tigers

Auburn is 10-8 overall and 4-5 in the SEC.

The Tigers started SEC play at 0-4 before winning four of their next five. Auburn suffered an 82-74 setback at No. 2 Baylor last Saturday as part of the SEC-Big 12 Challenge.

Freshman Sharife Cooper leads a quartet of double-figure scorers for the Tigers, averaging 21.3 ppg in seven outings. 

Last Time out

Tye Fagan and Sahvir Wheeler led a quartet of Bulldogs in double figures as Georgia defeated Ole Miss, 71-61, last Saturday at Stegeman Coliseum to complete a season sweep of the Rebels.

Andrew Garcia added 11 points, his fourth-straight double-figure outing, and Toumani Camara chipped in 10.

Though the game remained relatively close throughout, Georgia led for 35:24 of the contest’s 40 minutes, including all of the second half. The Bulldogs led 37-34 at the break and never allowed Ole Miss any closer.

After the Rebels pulled within 56-53 at the 9:08 mark, a Justin Kier jumper ignited an 11-2 surge that put Georgia up 67-55 just over three minutes later.

A really, Really Close Rivalry

Tuesday’s game will be the 193rd between the Bulldogs and the Tigers, with Auburn owning a 97-95 advantage.

The series has been tied five times 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 62-28 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 Tuesday’s game. Georgia has eight new Bulldogs, while Auburn has six. 

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.

This One Is Hard To Believe

While we’re talking about newcomers, let’s go to the other end of the spectrum. Tuesday’s game will be Georgia’s 10th SEC outing. It will be the eighth game which will not include a senior who has spent their entire career at one school.

Devontae Shuler of Ole Miss is the only senior to play his entire career at one school in any of those contests.

Not only does Georgia not have such a senior, neither have any of the Bulldogs’ seven other league foes to date – Mississippi State, LSU, Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, Florida and South Carolina.

Bulldogs Who Give And Take

Georgia’s Sahvir Wheeler and Justin Kier enter this week leading the SEC in assists and steals, respectively.

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