MBB: Georgia vs. Montana Preview

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MBB: Georgia vs. Montana Preview

Sahvir Wheeler
Sahvir Wheeler

Georgia (3-0) vs. Montana (0-3)

Tuesday, December 8, at 7:00 p.m. ET

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

Series History: First Meeting

Watch: SEC Network (Courtney Lyle, play-by-play; Dane Bradshaw, 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

• Six different Bulldogs scored in double figures against Jacksonville last Friday – Wheeler 23, Camara 19, Brown 14, Horne 12, Kier 11 and Fagan 10.

• Sahvir Wheeler is the first SEC player with three-straight point-assist double-doubles in over 20 seasons… we’re through 2000-01 and haven’t found one.

• Tye Fagan became the 28th UGA Bulldog to earn SEC Player of the Week honors (a combined 38 times) since the award’s inception in 1985.

• Versus FAMU, T. Fagan & S. Wheeler became the first Dogs to have double-doubles in the same game since N. Claxton and D. Ogbeide vs. S.C. on 3/9/19.

• 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 wraps a busy stretch with its third game in a six-day span on Tuesday when the Bulldogs host Montana at Stegeman Coliseum. 

That comes following a 263-day gap between March 11 – when Georgia played its final game of the 2019-20 season – and Nov. 29 – when the Bulldogs opened their 2020-21 campaign.

The Bulldogs were ready to return to action on Nov. 25; however, the carpet was pulled out from beneath them just three hours before tipoff when COVID issues within the Columbus State traveling party caused the cancellation of their opener.

That cancellation has caused a ripple effect on the Georgia schedule, turning an excessively long period between contests into a rapid succession of outings.

On Monday, Nov. 30 at 12:24 p.m., the Bulldogs announced they would take on North Georgia 54 and a half hours later in a make-up effort to the season opener. The addition of that contest lined up games against Nighthawks, Dolphins and Grizzlies in a span of just less than a week. 

“It’s not optimal, but for this year, it’s very probable,” Tom Crean said following the North Georgia contest. “I told the guys, we may get to a situation where we don’t have three games in three weeks, let alone three games in one week. Who knows what way this season is going to go. Anything you do is getting you ready for what’s coming. It just so happens that this is the way it’s going to be.”

Keeping An Eye On…Entering Tonight’s Game:

Andrew Garcia is…

• 183 points from 1,000 for his career

• 78 rebounds for 500 for his career

Series History With The Grizzlies

Tonight’s game will be the first ever between the Bulldogs and Montana, and just the second time they played a Big Sky Conference team.

The Bulldogs lost to Idaho State, 66-56, in the opening round of the Salt Lake City Classic on Dec. 15, 1978. That was Hugh Durham’s first season in Athens. Georgia bounced back to top Hofstra, 83-70, in the tournament’s consolation contest. Walter Daniels scored 24 points in each game to lead the Bulldogs offensively. 

Scouting Montana

The Grizzlies travel to Athens with an 0-3 record after a pair of last-second, one-point setbacks at Southern Utah last weekend to open Big Sky play.

Montana began the season with a 10-point loss at Southern Cal on Nov. 29. Last Thursday and Saturday, the Grizzlies fell in the closing seconds of contests in Cedar City, Utah.

Kyle Owens leads a trio of double-digit scorers at 14.0 ppg, while Michael Steadman is chipping in 10.7 ppg and Cameron Parker adds 10.3 ppg. Owens also paces the Grizzlies on the boards, hauling down 6.7 rpg.  

New Faces In New Places

Georgia’s roster features eight first-year Bulldogs, while Montana brings eight new Grizzlies to Athens.

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.

Montana’s batch of newcomers includes four freshmen, two junior transfers and two redshirt senior tranfers. Cameron Satterwhite, one of the redshirt seniors, was part of Loyola Chicago’s run to the 2018 NCAA Final Four.

Wheeler Of To Historic Start

Quick…when was the last time a 5-10 player led the SEC in double-doubles? The answer: Dec. 6, 2020.

Sahvir Wheeler sat atop the SEC’s leaders in double-doubles after notching points-assists efforts in Georgia’s first three games. As of Monday, Texas A&M’s Emmanuel Miller was the only other SEC player with multiple double-doubles on the young season.

Quick…when was the last time an SEC player had three consecutive point-assist double-doubles? The answer: not in 20 seasons.

With some Saturday assistance from Craig Pinkerton, it was determined that no SEC player has recorded three-straight point-assist double-doubles dating back to at least through the 2000-01 season. In fact, only two league players – Florida’s Chris Chiozza and Kentucky’s Tyler Ulis – have recorded back-to-back point-assist double-doubles in the last five seasons.

Quick…when was the last time a Bulldog recorded double-figure assist tallies in consecutive games? The answer: probably never.

Box scores dating back through the 1969-70 did not find anyone who had done so. There were a couple of close calls – Gino Gianfrancesco twice in a three-game span at the end of the 1971-72 and start of the 1972-73 seasons; Donald Hartry covering a four-game period in 1986-87; Rashad Wright over a five-game stretch over the end of 2001-02 and opening of 2002-03; and G.G. Smith over a six-game time frame during the 1998-99 campaign.

We think it would be unlikely before Gianfrancesco since he holds three of the top-four single-game efforts ever by a Bulldog.

Wheeler’s 12 assists against FAMU equaled the fourth-best single-game assist tally in 116 seasons of Georgia Basketball. It also was the most by a Bulldog in more than two decades…since G.G. Smith also had a dozen assists against Vanderbilt on Jan. 3, 1999.

As of Monday, Wheeler led the nation in assists at 10.7 apg.

Camara, Brown Dunks On Dolphins Catch ESPN’s Eye

Toumani Camara and Christian Brown delivered two ESPN attention-getting dunks against Jacksonville last Friday.

During the first half, Justin Kier dove for a deflected ball near midcourt and pitched it ahead to Camara who, with space, put down a windwill effort that immediately drew the attention of the network. @SportsCenter tweeted “We score that a 10 for Toumani Camara!” followed by a “head blown” emoji.

In the second half, Brown prevented a deflected ball from going out of bounds and passed to Tyron McMillan, who quickly moved the ball to Sahvir Wheeler. Wheeler drove toward the basket before floating a pass that Brown handled with his left hand and slammed through the basket. @ESPN tweeted “The save … and the finish!” and added a “hammer” emoji for good measure.

Camara’s effort ended up at No. 4 on SportsCenter’s top-10 plays for Friday.

Bulldogs Supplying The Digits

Georgia is averaging 89 points per game over its first three outings of the 2020-21 season. While that pace will likely slow down at some point, it does continue the trend of the Bulldogs’ point production under Tom Crean.

Georgia scored 98 points against Jacksonville last Friday – the 12th time in Crean’s 67 games with the Bulldogs that they reached or exceeded the 90-point plateau.

By comparison, Georgia scored 90 or more points just 12 times in the 393 games before Crean’s arrival, a span of 11-plus seasons.

Last year, the Bulldogs averaged 75.9 ppg, their highest effort in more than 15 years. The last time Georgia produced a higher points per game clip than that mark was in 2002-03 when the Bulldogs averaged 79.2.

Fagan Named SEC POTW

Tye Fagan was named the SEC Player of the Week on Nov. 30 by the league office in Birmingham, Ala., a day after the best outing of his collegiate career against Florida A&M.

Fagan posted career-high tallies of 21 points and 10 rebounds en route to his first career double-double. He connected on 9-of-10 shots from the field against the Rattlers and played a major role in creating distance on the scoreboard. Fagan scored eight points in a span of 76 seconds as Georgia expanded a two-point lead (49-47) to 10 (59-49). 

“I don’t take credit for that,” Fagan said when asked about his performance after the game. “A lot of that has to do with Sahvir (Wheeler). He is a great ball-handler, and he finds guys. I’m pretty sure he had 12 assists, so that is what I mean how he found guys. I give a lot of credit to my teammates and coaches to put me in the right places.”

Fagan’s previous highs were 15 points and six rebounds. For his career, Fagan has now recorded four double-digit scoring outputs. In those games, he has connected on an almost unfathomable 83.9 percent (26-of-31) of his field goal attempts.

Fagan is the 28th different Bulldog to be named SEC Player of the Week since the award’s inception in 1985. Those players have combined to earn 38 POTW certificates.

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