MBB: Georgia vs. Vanderbilt Preview

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MBB: Georgia vs. Vanderbilt Preview

Sahvir Wheeler
Sahvir Wheeler

Georgia (11-6, 4-6 SEC) vs. Vanderbilt (5-8, 1-6 SEC)

Saturday, February 6, at 6:00 p.m. ET

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

Series History: VU leads, 91-55

Last Meeting: UGA, 80-78, on 2/22/20

Watch: SEC Network (Dave Neal, play-by-play; Jon Sunvold, 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

• Toumani Camara and Sahvir Wheeler one of only two sets of Division I teammates with five or more double-doubles during the 2020-21 season.

• Andrew Garcia is 39 points shy of 1,000 career points. He scored 780 points in three seasons at Stony Brook before arriving at UGA as a graduate transfer.

• Justin Kier leads the SEC and is No. 33 nationally in average steals at 2.13. That is on pace to be the fifth-best effort by any SEC player in the last decade.

• Eight different Bulldogs have scored in double figures during the 2020-21 season, combining to produce 68 double-digit performances in UGA’s 17 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

Georgia looks to continue an impressive recent run of success on Saturday when the Bulldogs host Vanderbilt at 6:00 p.m. The contest was originally scheduled for 1:00 p.m.; however, the tip time was moved on Thursday following the postponement of a matchup between Arkansas and Texas A&M slated for 6:00.

Georgia defeated Ole Miss last Saturday and Auburn on Tuesday in its most recent outings. The cynical among you might scoff at touting a two-game winning streak as “impressive.” A deeper dive into those contests is needed to fully assess that span.

Of the 80 combined minutes in games against the Rebels and Tigers, Georgia led for 79:38 and trailed for just 3:16 (all versus Ole Miss). In addition, the Bulldogs connected on stellar shooting percentages of 51.2 percent overall and 47.1 percent from 3-point range in those outings. By comparison, Georgia entered the Ole Miss contest with percentages of 43.8 overall and 32.0 on 3-pointers in its eight prior SEC games.

Georgia remains one of the nation’s most balanced teams, with six players reaching double figures in the scoring column at Auburn and a seventh ending his night with nine points. Five Bulldogs currently sport double-digit scoring averages and Justin Kier is literally one point shy of being a sixth (159 points in 16 games). In addition, P.J. Horne is contributing a healthy 8.9 ppg.

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

Justin Kier is…

• 21 points from 1,300 for his career

Andrew Garcia is…

• 8 rebounds from 500 for his career

• 39 points from 1,000 for his career

Sahvir Wheeler is…

• 8 assists from co.- No. 16s Gerald Rob-inson (2011) and Litterial Green (1989) among UGA’s single-season leaders

• 14 assists from himself and Willie Anderson (1988) at No. 14 among UGA’s single-season leaders

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

Series History With Vandy

Vanderbilt owns a 91-55 lead in all-time meetings between the Bulldogs and the Commodores despite Georgia holding a 36-28 edge in matchups contested in Athens.

Last season on Feb. 22 in Nashville, Tyree Crump’s 35-foot bomb as time expired to gave Georgia an 80-78 win over Vanderbilt.

Georgia trailed 72-65 before Jordan Harris, who finished with a season-high 17 points, hit a 3-pointer ignite a 15-6 run over the final 3:31. 

Vandy still led 78-73 with 22 seconds left, but Sahvir Wheeler connected on a jumper at the 16-second mark and made two free throws to close the gap to 78-77 with just six ticks left.

After Vanderbilt missed a pair of free throws, Crump came in from behind the 3-point line to gather the rebound tipped out by Harris, took two dribbles and then knocked down the game-winner from straight away that cleared the net after the final horn sounded.

In the most recent meeting in Athens on Jan. 19, 2019, Rayshaun Hammonds scored 19 points, all in the second half, to lead Georgia in an 82-63 victory over Vanderbilt before a crowd of 9,429.

On the first day of classes on the UGA campus, 2,720 students – 720 more than the student allotment – showed up for the game.

A back-and-forth first half featured six ties and six lead changes before the Bulldogs garnered a 34-33 edge at the break. Hammonds knocked down a 3-pointer 14 seconds into the second stanza and Georgia never trailed the rest of the evening. 

Scouting The Commodores

Vanderbilt arrives in Athens with records of 5-8 overall and 1-6 in SEC play. 

Most recently, the Commodores produced their most impressive performance of the season, defeating South Carolina 93-81 last Saturday in Nashville. Vanderbilt’s scheduled midweek date with Texas A&M was canceled due to a combination of positive tests, contact tracing and subsequent quarantining of individuals within the Texas A&M program, consistent with SEC COVID-19 management requirements.

Scotty Pippen Jr. paces the Commodores and ranks second in the SEC in scoring at 21.7 ppg. He also is second in the conference in assists, with his 5.5 apg effort trailing only Sahvir Wheeler’s 7.4 apg. Dylan Disu is chipping in 14.0 ppg while also grabbing a league-best 8.3 rpg.

Last Time Out

Tye Fagan scored seven points in the first 103 seconds to stake Georgia to a 7-2 lead and the Bulldogs led the rest of the way en route to a 91-86 win over Auburn Tuesday night on The Plains.

The win avenged a Georgia setback to the Tigers just 20 days earlier in Athens.

Fagan’s first bucket came just 22 seconds after the tipoff and the Bulldogs remained on top for the remaining 39:38 of the night.

Fagan paced a half-dozen Georgia players in double figures with 16 points, followed by Toumani Camara with 15 points and a game-high 12 rebounds; P.J. Horne and Sahvir Wheeler both with 13 points; K.D. Johnson with 12; and Justin Kier with 11. 

Georgia led 39-30 at halftime before Auburn cut that advantage to three points twice in the first five minutes of the second period. 

After the Tigers pulled within 55-52 with 15:36 remaining, the Bulldogs exploded on a 14-2 run to gain their largest lead of the night at 69-54 with 10:44 left.

The final margin of victory – five points – was as close as the Tigers got in the final 15-plus minutes of action.

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