The Georgia men’s basketball team defeated the Tennessee Volunteers 80-63 on Wednesday night, and freshman Sahvir Wheeler got his second start of the season.
The 5-foot-10, 180 pound guard doesn’t have stats that jump off the charts as he only finished five points against Tennessee, but his teammates can be the first ones to tell you that he’s making a bigger contribution than scoring.
Wheeler has played in all 16 games, and his role has expanded over the past few games. His playing time has increased as he averages 26 minutes per game and he leads the team in assists by a significant margin with 79 total.
With just under ten minutes to go against Tennessee, Wheeler down what looked like a left ankle injury. His teammate and fellow freshman Anthony Edwards talked highly of Wheeler after the game.
“Sahvir is probably the heart and soul of the team,” Edwards said. “He always brings energy, everything we need on the court.”
Volunteers’ head coach Rick Barnes was quick to point out that he and his coaching staff didn’t really game plan for Wheeler.
“The little point guard (Wheeler)just totally dominated the first half. He got the ball when he wanted, and did what he wanted to do,” said Barnes. “That goes back to our scouting report. We did nothing in terms of following the scouting report. In terms of we let them open up the court, and drive inside a lot. He had a lot of open looks that he just would feed the ball into his teammates for easy baskets.”
Wheeler went down around the 9:43 mark against Tennessee suffering an ankle injury, but by that point in the game, Georgia had already taken control of the game.
“When he went down, everybody was sad because we can not do everything without Sahvir,” said Edwards. “When he went down I told him that we’d take care of it without him, and it was time for him to rest. He’s my boy.”
Georgia head coach Tom Crean updated Wheeler’s status at his Friday press conference.
“Hopefully he will be able to play Saturday,” said Crean. “We didn’t practice him yesterday. He walked through all the stuff that we did yesterday but we’re hopeful we’ll see more after today.”
Wheeler definitely provides an impact that Georgia might not have on Saturday, but Crean talked about what will happen if he’s not able to go.
“Well, I think it’s pretty clear that he brings a lot of different things to the table. You just have to deal with it (the injury), and if he can’t it is what it is. You just go. Right? That’s why you try to develop and try to get multi-dimensional versatile guys. Obviously he’s a huge factor in this and we’ll see you know we’ll see how it goes today and see how he feels tomorrow.”
Georgia takes the Mississippi State Bulldogs tomorrow night at 8:30 p.m. EST in Starkville.
Here is the video from Crean’s Friday press conference: