MBB Preview: Georgia vs. LSU

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MBB Preview: Georgia vs. LSU

Photo: LSU Athletics

Georgia (13-9, 6-9 SEC) vs. LSU (14-6, 9-4 SEC)

Tuesday, February 23, at 7:00 p.m. ET

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

Series History: LSU leads, 68-48

Last Meeting: LSU, 94-92 in overtime, on Jan. 6, 2021

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

Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network Flagship: WSB AM 750 Atlanta; XM: 192; Internet: 963 (Scott Howard, play-by-play; Chuck Dowdle, analyst; Adam Gillespie, producer)

The Starting Five

• Sahvir Wheeler’s 152 assists is the 4th-best season total ever by a Bulldog. He’s just two assists from No. 2 and 17 shy of  Pertha Robinson’s school record.

• Of 347 Division I teams, Toumani Camara and Sahvir Wheeler are of only seven sets of teammates with five or more double-doubles during 2020-21.

• In his first 20 career games, Jaxon Etter averaged 0.4 ppg, 0.4 rpg and 3.0 mpg. In his last five outings, Etter is averaging 6.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg and 17.2 mpg.

• Eight different Bulldogs have scored in double figures during the 2020-21 season, combining to produce 86 double-digit performances in UGA’s 21 games.

• P.J. Horne, who generally guards the opposing team’s post player a significant amount, leads UGA with 35 3-pointers made this season.

The Opening Tip

Georgia concludes a “February Frenzy” that will rival what any team will likely face in “March Madness” when the Bulldogs host LSU on Tuesday. The Tigers represent Georgia’s fifth consecutive opponent projected to receive an NCAA Tournament bid in a 14-day span.

Previously, the Bulldogs suffered setbacks at No. 16/15 Tennessee and No. 11/11 Alabama before rebounding to top No. 20/19 Missouri. The Vols, Tide and Tigers were the three SEC teams included in the NCAA’s initial Feb. 13 reveal of the projected top-16 seeds for the “Big Dance.”

Georgia lost at Florida last Saturday before entertaining LSU. The Gators and Tigers were No. 7 and No. 8 seeds, respectively, ESPN’s edition of Bracketology released last Friday. FYI, Arkansas is the SEC’s other team included in Joe Lunardi’s prognostications as a No. 6 seed.

The average NET ranking of those five teams as of Monday was 24.0. During the last two weeks, Georgia’s NCAA strength of schedule has ascended from No. 99 to No. 50.

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

Tom Crean is…

• 4 wins from 400 victories in his career

Andrew Garcia is…

• 10 points from 1,000 for his career

Sahvir Wheeler is…

• 1 assist from No. 3 Rashad Wright (2008) among UGA’s best season tallies

• 2 assists from No. 2 Sundiata Gaines (2007) among UGA’s best season tallies

• 17 assists from No. 1 Pertha Robinson (1995) among UGA’s best season tallies

• 2 assists from No. 17 Bernard Davis (1991-94) among UGA’s best career tallies

• 8 assists from No. 16 Walter Daniels (1976-79)among UGA’s best career tallies

• 33 assists from No 15 Shandon Anderson (1993-96)among UGA’s best career tallies

Series History With LSU

Georgia enters Tuesday’s matchup with LSU sporting a 27-23 lead in contests in Athens; however, the Tigers own a 68-46 lead all-time series between UGA and LSU.

Earlier this season on Jan. 6 in Baton Rouge, LSU outscored Georgia 14-12 in overtime en route to a 94-92 win over the Bulldogs at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Justin Kier and Sahvir Wheeler led the Bulldogs with 25 and 21 points, respectively, while Toumani Camara added his fourth double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

The back-and-forth affair featured no less than 20 lead changes and nine ties – including at halftime (42-42) and obviously at the end of regulation (80-80).

The Bulldogs earned the game’s biggest advantage at 68-58 on a breakaway dunk by Kier with 9:07 remaining. Following an LSU timeout, the Tigers recorded back-to-back old-fashioned three-point plays to trim the gap to four points just 67 seconds later.

Georgia led 80-74 following a Wheeler 3-pointer with 1:57 left, but Javonte Smart’s back-to-back 3s tied the game and forced the extra session.

In the most recent meeting in Athens on Feb. 16, 2019, Nicolas Claxton led four Bulldogs in double figures, but No. 19/21 LSU still downed Georgia 83-79 at a sold-out Stegeman Coliseum.

After trailing 31-22 with 5:17 remaining in the first half, the Bulldogs cut the margin to 41-37 at the break and eventually went up 58-53 at the 13:54 mark.

LSU took the lead for good with 6:41 left; however, Georgia pulled within 82-79 with less than a minute to play. The Bulldogs gained possession following a stop but failed to capitalize.

Scouting The Tigers

LSU has compiled records of 14-6 overall and 9-4 in SEC play to date.

The Tigers are coming off a season-high 104 -point outburst against Auburn last Saturday. LSU leads the SEC in scoring average at 83.1 points per game, largely due to sitting atop league statistics in both field goal percentage (.475) and free throw percentage (.760) as well.

Freshman Cameron Thomas, who was teammate’s with Georgia’s Christian Brown at Oak Hill Academy two seasons ago, is the SEC’s leading scorer at 22.8 ppg. LSU also is receiving double-figure scoring contributions from Trendon Watford (16.1 ppg), Javontae Smart (15.2 ppg) and Darius Days (11.9 ppg). 

Last Time Out

Sahvir Wheeler poured in a career-high 27 points and also ascended from No. 8 to No. 4 on Georgia’s all-time single-season assists ledger but the Bulldogs still suffered a 70-63 at Florida last Saturday.

The Gators used a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to garner a 37-23 halftime lead.

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Georgia used a late surge to pull within two possessions but could get not closer. After trailing 64-49 with 3:57 left, the Bulldogs embarked on a 11-2 run to close within 66-60 just 146 seconds later.

Georgia gained possession down six with 39 seconds left but couldn’t complete the improbable rally.

Toughest. SEC. Stretch. In. 2021.

Georgia wraps up the most challenging five-game stretch any SEC team will face in league play on Tuesday. The Bulldogs will have played five projected NCAA Tournament teams in 14 days.

Kentucky is the only other league team to consecutively take on five of the SEC’s six consensus NCAA Tournament teams; however, the Wildcats did so over 18 days.

Wheeler Climbing UGA Assist List

Sahvir Wheeler has climbed from No. 13 to No. 4 among Georgia’s single-season leaders in assists during UGA’s last two games.  

Wheeler entered the Missouri game at No. 13 but ascended five spots with ¢60 – as in six dimes – against the Tigers. Four more passes to points in Gainesville pushed him to No. 4.

Wheeler has 152 assists in 22 games and is currently tied with Donald Hartry’s 1985-86 effort at No. 4. He is only two shy assists from making his way to the No. 2 spot and 21 passes-to-points from Pertha Robinson’s single-season Georgia record of 169 dishes in 1994-95 as outlined below

UGA Single-Season Assist Leaders

Rk.          No.          Player, Season                                     GP           Avg.

                1.             169          Pertha Robinson, 1994-95                    27            6.26

                2.             154          Sundiata Gaines, 2006-07                    32            4.81

                3.             153          Rashad Wright, 2001-02                       32            4.78

                4.             152          Donald Hartry, 1985-86                         30            5.07

152          Sahvir Wheeler, 2020-21                     22            6.91

                6.             151          J.J. Frazier, 2015-16                             34            4.44

                7.             150          Willie Anderson, 1986-87                      30            5.00

                8.             149          Rashad Wright, 2002-03                       27            5.52

                9.             148          G.G. Smith, 1996-97                             33            4.48

                                148          G.G. Smith, 1997-98                             35            4.23

                11.           145          Pertha Robinson, 1995-96                    30            4.83

                12.           144          Gerald Crosby, 1984-85                        31            4.65

                13.           143          Sundiata Gaines, 2007-08                    34            4.21

                14.           140          J.J. Frazier, 2016-17                             34            4.12

                15.           139          Willie Anderson, 1987-88                      35            3.97

139          Sahvir Wheeler, 2019-20                     31            4.48

                17.           133          Litterial Green, 1988-89                        31            4.29

                                133          Gerald Robinson, 2010-11                    33            4.03

                19.           125          Gino Gianfrancesco, 1971-72               24            5.21

                                125          Barry Cohen, 1970-71                           25            5.00

Former Warriors Face Off

Georgia’s Christian Brown and LSU’s Cameron Thomas were teammates at Oak Hill Academy during the 2018-19 season. They helped the Warriors compile a 31-5 record and finish as runner-up at the GEICO Nationals. Brown averaged 12.4 points – while shooting 55.9 percent from the floor. Thomas averaged 26.2 points and 9.5 assists.

The Oak Hill roster that season featured 10 future D-I players – also Cole Anthony (Orlando Magic), Kofi Cockburn (Illinois), Dylan Cardwell (Auburn), BJ Mack (South Florida), Evan Thomas (Georgia State), Tobias Rotegaard (UAB), Darrick Jones Jr. (Towson) and Connor Odum (Maryland walk-on). 

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