Georgia (14-10, 7-10 SEC) vs. No. 8/5 Alabama (20-6, 15-2 SEC)
Saturday, March 6, at 2:00 p.m. ET
Stegeman Coliseum (1,638) in Athens, Ga.
Series History: UA leads, 97-52
Last Meeting: UA, 115-82, on Feb. 13, 2021
Watch: CBS (Brad Nessler, play-by-play; Pete Gillen, analyst)
Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network Flagship: WSB AM 750 Atlanta; XM: 386; Internet: 976 (Scott Howard, play-by-play; Chuck Dowdle, analyst; Adam Gillespie, producer)
The Starting Five
• Sahvir Wheeler’s 170 assists is not only Georgia’s single-season record that tally ranks No. 2 nationally among all D-I players during the 2020-21 season.
• Of 347 Division I teams, Toumani Camara and Sahvir Wheeler are of only six sets of teammates with six or more double-doubles this season.
• From Feb. 10-23, when UGA played five-straight probable NCAA Tournament teams, the Dogs’ NCAA strength of schedule climbed from No. 99 to No. 46 nationally.
• P.J. Horne, who generally guards the opposing team’s post player a significant amount, leads UGA with 38 3-pointers made this season.
• Eight different Bulldogs have scored in double figures during the 2020-21 season, combining to produce 94 double-digit performances in UGA’s 24 games.
The Opening Tip
Georgia wraps up its regular-season campaign on Saturday when the Bulldogs host No. 8/5 Alabama at historic Stegeman Coliseum in a CBS nationally televised matinee matchup.
That Georgia is facing Alabama, which clinched the SEC title a week ago – and that the game was announced just nine days before occurring – falls in line with just about everything else associated with the past 12 months.
The Bulldogs have probably played as challenging a slate as anyone in the nation over the past three and a half weeks. Alabama represents the sixth probable NCAA Tournament opponent in Georgia’s last seven games.
The Bulldogs endured a “February Frenzy” that will rival anything “March Madness” has to offer. Between Feb. 10-23, Georgia faced five consecutive teams likely to receive NCAA bids and compiled a 2-3 mark in those contests. The home team won each outing, a trend we would gladly welcome continuing against the Crimson Tide.
The Bulldogs defeated No. 20/19 Missouri and LSU at Stegeman Coliseum and dropped decisions at No. 16/15 Tennessee, No. 11/11 Alabama and Florida. Georgia and Kentucky are the only SEC teams to play five straight games versus the league’s six consensus teams projected to earn NCAA Tournament bids, Arkansas being the other “March Madness” lock. The Bulldogs played their quintet of contests in 14 days, while the Wildcats did so over an 18-day span.
Though Georgia celebrated “Senior Day” prior to last Saturday’s matchup with South Carolina, the Alabama game will serve as the final home outing for three senior Bulldogs – graduate transfers Andrew Garcia, Justin Kier and P.J. Horne.
Keeping An Eye On . . . Entering Today’s Game:
Tom Crean is…
• 3 wins from 400 victories in his career
Sahvir Wheeler is…
• 15 assists from No 15 Shandon Anderson (1993-96) among UGA’s best career tallies
• 25 assists from No. 14 Willie Anderson (1985-88) among UGA’s best career tallies
• 40 assists from No. 13 Gerald Crosby (1982-85) among UGA’s best career tallies
Series History With Alabama
Alabama sports 97-52 lead in the overall series between the Bulldogs and the Tide, including a 33-31 advantage in Athens.
In the most recent matchup at Stegeman Coliseum last Feb. 8, Sahvir Wheeler notched what were then career-high efforts of 24 points and eight assists; however, Georgia dropped a 105-102 overtime decision to Alabama.
After trailing most of the first half, the Bulldogs used a 13-3 run over the opening 2:24 of the second stanza to grab a 54-48 lead.
That margin grew to 65-53 at the 14:44 mark before the Crimson Tide rallied and went up 83-77 with 7:04 left.
Rayshaun Hammonds knotted the score at 92-92 with 21 seconds remaining in regulation to force OT.
The Tide led by four points twice in the extra five-minute session, but the game wasn’t decided until Anthony Edwards’ 3-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark.
Georgia traveled to Tuscaloosa just three weeks ago when K.D. Johnson poured in 24 points, his second straight career-high scoring output in a road game against a ranked opponent, however Georgia still dropped a 115-82 decision at No. 11/11 Alabama.
Johnson, who scored 22 points at No. 16/15 Tennessee three days earlier, led a quartet of Bulldogs in double figures. Sahvir Wheeler chipped in 16 points, Toumani Camara posted a double-double of 12 points and 13 boards and Tye Fagan notched 11 points.
Georgia trailed by just three, 41-38, at halftime before Alabama began the second period with an 18-9 surge over the first 6:39 of the period to seize control.
A hot-shooting Crimson Tide team connected on 64.3 percent of its shots from the floor and 60.0 percent of its 3-pointers.
Scouting The Crimson Tide
Alabama, which is ranked No. 8 and No. 5 in this week’s AP and USA Today polls, respectively, enters Saturday’s game at 20-6 overall and 15-2 in league play.
It’s probably not a coincidence that Alabama is one of the SEC’s most veteran teams, with a seniors Herbert Jones, John Petty Jr., Alex Reese and Tyler Barnes spending their entire careers in Tuscaloosa.
Sophomore Jaden Shackelford paces a quartet of double-figure scorers for the Tide at 14.5 ppg, while Petty is adding 12.8 ppg, Jahvon Quinerly is contributing 12.0 ppg and Jones is chipping in 11.0 ppg.
Last Time Out
Sahvir Wheeler broke Georgia’s single-season assist record and Andrew Garcia notched his 1,000th-career point; however, South Carolina defeated Georgia, 91-70, last Saturday at Stegeman Coliseum.
In fact, both milestones occurred on the same play. With 14:20 remaining in the game, Wheeler found Garcia in transition, and he converted the pass into an and-one.
All three of Georgia’s graduate transfers reached double figures in the Bulldogs’ “Senior Day” contest versus the Gamecocks. P.J. Horne scored a team-high 17 points, while Justin Kier added 16 and Garcia chipped in a total of 10.
A Tough Slate Without Breaks
Georgia has played one of the SEC’s most challenging league schedules, and the Bulldogs did so as the only team to play its first 17 games of the conference slate without skipping a scheduled play date.
Entering the final weekend of the regular season, seven teams sport SEC records of .500 or better. Georgia is the only league team that has played four of those teams – Alabama, Florida, LSU and Ole Miss. Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri are the other teams with winning SEC records to date.
The Bulldogs also are the only SEC team to play five-consecutive games against the league’s projected NCAA Tournament teams in a 14-day span.
While Bulldogs did not have a open date, they did have a schedule alteration. Georgia played Tennessee on Feb. 10 after the Dogs’ game against Texas A&M and the Vols’ outing versus Florida that were scheduled for that day were postponed day due to COVID issues. The SEC announced the matchup between UGA and UT on Feb. 7.
The moving of the Tennessee game did open up the opportunity for a contest to replace Texas A&M on the schedule. That switched the Bulldogs from playing the Aggies, who are 2-7 in SEC games, to Alabama, which is 15-2.
An Animal House Scoring Margin
After 24 games, Georgia has scored 1,865 points, while the Bulldogs’ opponents have scored…wait for it…1,865 points.
Entering the regular-season finale, that gives Georgia a Senator John Blutarsky-esque scoring margin of…zero, point, zero!