MBB: Georgia vs. Florida Preview

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MBB: Georgia vs. Florida Preview

K.D. Johnson
K.D. Johnson

Georgia (9-4, 2-4 SEC) vs. Florida (7-4, 4-3 SEC)

Saturday, January 23, at 2:00 p.m. ET

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

Series History: UF leads, 116-105

Last Meeting: UF, 68-54, on 3/4/20

Watch: ESPN2 (Jon Sciambi, play-by-play; Dan Dakich, analyst)

Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network Flagship: WSB AM 750 Atlanta; XM: 191; Internet: 962 (Scott Howard, play-by-play; Chuck Dowdle, analyst; Adam Gillespie, producer)

The Starting Five

• K.D. Johnson was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday, UGA’s third SEC award winner this season following POTW Tye Fagan and Toumani Camara.

• Sahvir leads the SEC in assists at 7.4 apg. His career average of 5.34 apg is better than any SEC player is averaging this season. Scotty Pippen Jr. is second in the SEC at 5.30 apg.

• UGA is No. 18 nationally in steals at 9.0 spg, and three Dogs are among the SEC’s top-10 leaders – No. 1 Justin Kier, No. 6 Sahvir Wheeler and No. 7 Toumani Camara.

• Eight different Bulldogs have scored in double figures during the 2020-21 season, combining to produce 51 double-digit performances in UGA’s 13 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

Following last-minute and last-second wins over Ole Miss and Kentucky, respectively, the Georgia Bulldogs return to action on Saturday when they host Florida in a matinee matchup.

Georgia is currently 9-4 overall and 2-4 in the SEC. The Bulldogs started the season 7-0, their best beginning in 38 years…since an eventual Final Four team opened the 1982-83 season 9-0.

At Ole Miss last Saturday afternoon, Georgia posted season-high shooting percentages from everywhere on the floor – overall (.587), 3-point range (.600) and the free throw line (.882) – en route to a 78-74 victory over the Rebels.

P.J. Horne’s layup with 1.3 seconds left secured a 63-62 win over the Wildcats on Wednesday, supplying Georgia’s first win over Kentucky since 2013 and snapping a 14-game losing streak to UK

Georgia remains one of the nation’s most balanced offensive teams, with no less than seven players averaging 9.5 ppg or more.

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

Justin Kier is…

• 2 assists from 250 for his career

• 5 rebounds from 600 for his career

Andrew Garcia is…

• 86 points from 1,000 for his career

• 25 rebounds for 500 for his career

Series History With Florida

Despite a 63-41 edge for the Bulldogs in games played in Athens, Florida enters Saturday’s game with a 116-105 advantage in the series between UGA and UF.

Florida is Georgia’s most frequent foe on the hardwood. Trailing the Gators on the list of most matchups for Georgia are two more of the Bulldogs’ biggest rivals – Georgia Tech with 196 contests and Auburn with 192.

Florida won both ends of the home-and-home series during the 2019-20 campaign. The Gators earned an 81-75 victory in Gainesville on Feb. 5 and then also won the rematch in Athens on March 4, 68-54.

Georgia and Florida were scheduled to play a third time in the second round of last season’s SEC Tournament before that event was abruptly canceled on March 12 approximately three hours before tipoff.

In the most recent meeting, Georgia raced to an early 19-6 lead but could not sustain that momentum before a sold-out Stegeman Coliseum on “Senior Night” for the Bulldogs.

Rayshaun Hammonds scored eight points Georgia opened up a 13-point lead over the first five minutes of the contest.

Florida tied the game on three occasions, twice in the first half and again at 40-40 with 13:14 left, before the Gators grabbed their first lead on a pair of free throws at the 11:47 mark.

After the Bulldogs went back up on a Tye Fagan layup with 7:53 remaining, Florida embarked on a 15-4 surge to gain control.

Scouting The Gators

Florida enters Saturday’s game with a 7-4 overall record and a 4-3 mark in SEC play. The Gators are coming off a 75-49 thumping of No. 6 Tennessee on Tuesday. 

Florida defeated the Vols shorthanded, playing without three Gators who started every game they’ve seen action in this season. Keyontae Johnson, the preseason SEC Player of the Year, has been out of action since early December; Scottie Lewis missed this third straight outing for “health and safety” reasons; and Colin Castleton was held out due to an ankle injury.

Tre Mann is the Gators’ top active scorer, putting up 13.8 ppg. Castleton and Lewis are chipping in 12.6 ppg and 11.0 ppg, respectively. Noah Locke (10.1 ppg) and Tyree Appleby (10.0 ppg) also are producing points as a double-digit clip for Florida.

Dogs Snap Losing Streak To Cats With Buzzer-Beater By Horne

Georgia outscored Kentucky 7-0 over the final 109 seconds to secure a 63-62 victory over the Wildcats on Wednesday night. The victory snapped a 14-game losing streak to Kentucky. The Bulldogs’ last win over UK prior to this week was on March 7, 2013.

Graduate transfer P.J. Horne scored on a layup with 1.3 seconds remaining to give Georgia the win.

While Horne hit the winning bucket, fellow graduate transfers Andrew Garcia and Justin Kier made plenty of winning plays against the Wildcats. Garcia finished with a team-high 16 points while connecting on 8-of-12 shots from the floor. Kier contributed his usually thorough linescore – seven points, five boards, a season-high five steals, three assists and a career-most two blocks.

Things That Make You Go HMMMM?

Georgia defeated Kentucky despite shooting a season-low 38.8 percent from the floor and matching the Bulldogs fewest points on the season, 63. Georgia also scored 63 points in a win over Montana on Dec. 8.

Of Gifts And Takeaways

Georgia ranks second in the SEC in both assists and steals.

Led by league-leading Sahvir Wheeler, the Bulldogs’ average of 15.2 apg also is No. 84 in the nation. The sophomore from Houston’s average of 7.4 apg is an eye-catching 2.1 apg more than any other SEC player. In fact, Wheeler’s current career average of 5.34 apg would lead the league’s season leaders entering this weekend.

Georgia’s average 9.0 steals per game ranks No. 18 nationally. Three Bulldogs are among the SEC’s top-10 leaders in takeaways – Justin Kier (No. 1 at 2.3 spg), Sahvir Wheeler (No. 7 at 1.6 spg) and Toumani Camara (No. 8 also at 1.6 spg).

Bulldogs Shot Hot In Oxford

Georgia posted season-best shooting efforts overall (58.7 percent), on 3-pointers (60.0 percent) and at the line (88.2 percent) in last Saturday’s win at Ole Miss.

Tye Fagan led the way with a 9-of-9 performance from the field. The junior from Logtown became just the 11th player nationally this season to have a perfect night attempting nine or more shots from the floor.

From a historical perspective, Georgia’s field goal percentage effort against the Rebels – which included a 75.0 percent second half – was the Bulldogs’ fifth-best in a road outing in the last 25 years as outlined below.

Also, Georgia’s tally from 3-point range was the best ever by an opponent in The Pavilion at Ole Miss, now in its sixth season as the home of the Rebels. The previous mark was 56.3 percent by Middle Tennessee State on Nov. 30, 2016, ironically when the Blue Raiders’ were coached by Kermit Davis.

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