Georgia (14-11, 7-11 SEC) vs. Missouri (15-8, 8-8 SEC)
Thursday, March 11, at 7:00 p.m. ET
Bridgestone Arena (3,400) in Nashville, Tenn.
Series History: Series Tied, 8-8
Last Meeting: UGA, 80-70, on Feb. 16, 2021
Watch: SEC Network (Tom Hart, play-by-play; Dane Bradshaw, analyst)
Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network Flagship: WSB AM 750 Atlanta; XM: TBD; Internet: TBD (Scott Howard, play-by-play; Chuck Dowdle, analyst; Adam Gillespie, producer)
The Starting Five
• Sahvir Wheeler’s current average of 7.2 assists per game is the highest by any SEC player since Mississippi State’s Chuck Evans’ 8.1 apg in 1992-93.
• Toumani Camara and Sahvir Wheeler are one of just four sets of Division I teammates with seven or more double-doubles during the 2020-21 season.
• Though he’s only played in 15 games, freshman K.D. Johnson leads the Bulldogs in 20-point scoring performances with four such outings this season.
• P.J. Horne, who generally guards the opposing team’s post player a significant amount, leads UGA with 44 3-pointers made 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.
The Opening Tip
Georgia will face Missouri in the Bulldogs’ opening matchup of the 2021 SEC Tournament on Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. ET at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
Georgia is the tourney’s No. 10 seed. The Tigers are the No. 7 seed…and also projected to be a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament in the edition of bracketology released last Sunday night.
The Bulldogs have probably played as challenging a slate as anyone in the nation over the past four weeks. Missouri represents the seventh probable NCAA Tournament opponent in Georgia’s last eight 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 – Tennessee, Alabama, Missouri, Florida and LSU. Arkansas is the SEC’s other “March Madness” lock. Georgia was the only SEC team to play five straight games this season versus the league’s projected NCAA invitees without a break.
The Bulldogs wrapped up the regular season by hosting Alabama before drawing Missouri.
Keeping An Eye On . . . Entering Today’s Game:
Tom Crean is…
• 3 wins from 400 victories in his career
Sahvir Wheeler is…
• 5 assists from No 15 Shandon Anderson (1993-96) among UGA’s best career tallies
• 15 assists from No. 14 Willie Anderson (1985-88) among UGA’s best career tallies
• 30 assists from No. 13 Gerald Crosby (1982-85) among UGA’s best career tallies
Georgia’s SEC Tourney History
Georgia sports a 48-57 an all-time record in 60 appearances the SEC Tournament.
The Bulldogs are 39-38 in SEC Tourney action since the event resumed in 1979 after a 27-year hiatus from 1953-79.
The Bulldogs won the 1983 and 2008 SEC Tournaments and finished as runners-up in 1940, 1981, 1988 and 1997.
Georgia has reached the semifinals 15 times, most recently doing so in 2016.
A year ago, Georgia defeated Ole Miss, 81-63, in their first-round matchup, the Bulldogs’ most decisive win over a league foe last season. The rest of the tourney was canceled on March 12 just hours before Georgia was to face Florida.
Series History With Mizzou
The all-time series between Georgia and Missouri is currently tied at 8-8, including a 1-1 record in SEC Tournament matchups.
Just over three weeks ago on Feb. 16 in Athens, Georgia upset No. 20/19 Missouri, 80-70, as a hot-shooting Justin Kier led five Bulldogs in double figures.
Kier connected on 6-of-7 shots from the field, including 2-of-2 3-pointers, and 2-of-2 trips to the line to pace Georgia with 16 points. In addition, Sahvir Wheeler added 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists and in the process ascended from No. 13 to No. 8 among the Bulldogs’ all-time single-season leaders in assists.
Kier started hot, scoring 10 points in the opening 8:31. Georgia led for 12:11 of the first half before the Tigers surged to a 37-33 lead at the break.
Missouri scored the first nine points of the second stanza as the Tigers’ advantage quickly bulged to 13 points. Following a timeout, Georgia chipped away at that margin. The Bulldogs went up 57-55 on a 3-pointer from P.J. Horne with 7:44 remaining and never trailed again.
Georgia and Missouri are meeting for the third time in the last four SEC Tournaments. In 2018, the Bulldogs secured a 62-60 victory in St. Louis. A year later, the Tigers defeated Georgia, 71-61, in Nashville.
Two days short of two years ago – on March 13, 2019 – Jordan Harris scored a career-high 26 points to lead the Bulldogs in the setback at Bridgestone Arena.
The Bulldogs led by two at halftime before Missouri opened the second stanza with a 6-0 surge. After Georgia battled back, another 6-0 run put the Tigers up for good, 49-43, with 8:57 remaining.
In 2018, Yante Maten scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Georgia in a 62-60 win over Missouri in the second round at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
The contest featured a series of runs by each team. Missouri opened the day by scoring the game’s first 10 points, before Georgia responded with a 19-2 surge.
The Bulldogs led 36-24 early in the second stanza scoring before the Tigers rallied to knot the score at 39-39 with 14:11 remaining.
Georgia led 61-60 with 60 seconds left. The Bulldogs forced three misses and grabbed a pair of key rebounds to secure the victory.
Scouting The Tigers
Missouri wrapped up its regular-season slate with a 15-8 overall record and an 8-8 mark in SEC play.
The Tigers were ranked for a vast majority of the season, topping out at No. 10 in both the AP and USA Today polls on Feb. 8. Missouri was tabbed No. 20 by the AP and No. 19 by USA Today when UGA and MU first met.
Dru Smith and Xavier Pinson lead a quartet of Tigers scoring at a double-digit pace with almost identical production. Smith’s 325 points equates to a 14.1 ppg average, while Pinson’s 321 supplies at 14.0 ppg clip.
Jeremiah Tilmon, who is tied with Toumani Camara and Sahvir Wheeler for the SEC lead with seven double-doubles, is contributing 12.5 ppg and a team-high 7.4 rpg. Mark Smith adds an even 10.0 ppg.