MBB Game Preview: Georgia vs. Arkansas

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MBB Game Preview: Georgia vs. Arkansas

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Georgia (14-14, 4-11 SEC) vs. Arkansas (18-10, 6-9 SEC)

Saturday, February 29 at 6:00 p.m. ET

Stegeman Coliseum (10,523) in Athens, Ga.

Watch: SEC Network (Dave Neal, play-by-play; Debbie Antonelli, analyst)

Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network Flagship: WSB AM 750 Atlanta. Sirius; 84; XM: 84; Internet: 84. (Scott Howard, play-by-play; Chuck Dowdle, analyst; Adam Gillespie, producer)

The Starting Five

• Anthony Edwards’ 547 points is the third-most ever by a UGA freshman and is only four points away from the current No. 2 tally, 515 by Jumaine Jones.

• Sahvir Wheeler’s 121 assists represent the second-most ever by a UGA freshman. He is 12 passes-to-baskets shy of Litterial Green’s UGA freshman record.

• Toumani Camara scored in double figures once in UGA’s first 16 games but has reached double digits six times in the last eight outings.

• UGA has drawn 144,047 fans at home this season, 4,653 off its total attendance record of 148,700 set last season. Both of UGA’s remaining home dates are sold out.

• Georgia’s celebrated freshman class – ranked among the top-10 groups nationally by every recruiting service – features five of the nation’s top-100 prospects.

Spike Squad
Spike Squad

Game Promotions

The first 1,250 UGA students in attendance at Saturday’s game will receive a “This Is My Georgia Shirt” t-shirt.

The Opening Tip

Georgia returns to its loyal – and ever-expanding – fan base to host Arkansas on Saturday night with the potential of a pair record-setting numbers via the Stegeman Coliseum turnstiles.

The Bulldogs have drawn 144,047 total fans for their 15 home games to date. That’s 4,653 shy of the program’s total attendance record of 147,800 fans a year ago. Considering the the Arkansas contest and next Wednesday’s home date with Florida are already sold out, a new total attendance record is likely to top the existing mark by a significant margin.

In addition, Georgia has drawn nine crowds of 10,000-fans this season. That ties the 2002-03 campaign for the most five-digit attendance tallies in school history. That record seems to have a short self-life remaining as well.

Georgia is 14-14 overall this season, including an impressive a 11-4 mark in home outings. The Bulldogs are averaging 79.9 points per game at Stegeman Coliseum and own a +9.8 scoring margin in home dates.

Anthony Edwards, who on Monday was named SEC Freshman of the Week for a school-record third time, leads Georgia at 19.5 points per game. Edwards, one of only two freshmen on the 20-player late-season Wooden Award Watch List, is the nation’s top-scoring freshman. The Atlanta native has reached double figures in the scoring column in 24 of 28 games, with 12 20-point outings and three 30-point efforts.

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

Among UGA’s career Leaders Tyree Crump is…

• 12 3FGs from No. 9 Bernard Davis

• 20 3FGAs from No. 7 Dustin Ware

Among UGA’s Freshman Leaders Anthony Edwards is…

• 99 points from No. 1 Jacky Dorsey

Among UGA’s Freshman Leaders Sahvir Wheeler is…

• 12 assists from No. 1 Litterial Green

Series History

Despite a 9-6 advantage by Georgia in games played in Athens, Arkansas owns a 23-15 lead in the all-time series with the Bulldogs.

Last season on Jan. 29 in Fayetteville, Arkansas pulled away late en route to a 70-60 win over Georgia in a back-and-forth contest that featured seven ties and seven lead changes.

The Bulldogs opened with an 11-2 run over the first 4:29 and remained on top for virtually the entire first half before Arkansas inched to a 31-29 at the break.

The Hogs built a 52-45 lead at the 8:32 mark, but the Dogs rallied again to knot the score two minutes later. An Isaiah Joe 3-pointer with 5:06 left initiated an 18-8 surge the rest of the way.

In the most recent matchup at Stegeman Coliseum on Jan. 23, 2018, Arkansas outscored Georgia 11-8 in a second overtime to give the Razorbacks an 80-77 victory.

Georgia led for a majority of the game – 31:36 of 50 minutes to be exact – but the Razorbacks shot 57.1 percent from 3-point range in overtime to seal the win.

Georgia raced to a 29-13 lead with 6:06 left in the first half. Arkansas trimmed that margin to five at the break and then earned its first lead at 50-48 with 10:12 left in regulation.

Jordan Harris tied the game at 63-63 with five seconds left to force overtime. Harris made one of two free throws with 35 seconds left in the first extra period to tie the game at 69-69 before both the Hogs and Dogs both missed potential game-winners thereafter.

Daryl Macon’s three 3-pointers in the second overtime proved to be the difference.

Scouting The Razorbacks

Arkansas is currently 18-10 overall but just 6-9 in SEC play.       Mason Jones paces the Razorbacks in virtually every statistic, including averages of 20.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game.

The Razorbacks‘ season can be broken into two distinct segments – “with Joe“ and “without Joe.“ With a healthy Isaiah Joe, Arkansas is 15-3. When Joe has been injured, the Razorbacks are 3-7. 

Joe, who along with Anthony Edwards is among leading candidates for the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award, initially injured his right knee on Jan. 11 at Ole Miss. He then aggravated the injury against Mississippi State on Jan. 22. 

After trying to play through the pain, Joe underwent arthroscopic debridement surgery on Feb. 4 to remove fragments from his knee. 

The Razorbacks then lost five straight contests before Joe returned for a win over Missouri last weekend. Arkansas won again on Wednesday, defeating Tennessee.

Last Time Out…

Anthony Edwards scored 36 points – and moved to No. 2 among Georgia’s all-time freshman scoring leaders in the process – but the Bulldogs still suffered a 94-90 overtime setback to South Carolina on Wednesday.

The contest was as evenly matched as possible, with 21 ties and 17 lead changes. Of the contest’s 45 minutes of action, Georgia led for 17:28, South Carolina was on top for 17:56 and the score was tied for 9:10.

The Gamecocks took the lead for good with 58 seconds remaining in overtime on a Keyshawn Bryant stickback.

The Bulldogs And Leap Years

The Arkansas game represents the fourth time Georgia has played on Feb. 29 in 115 seasons of basketball.

The Bulldogs are 2-2 in contests contested on the extra day of leap years, last defeating Florida, 69-60, in Gainesville in 1992.

Prior to this weekend, Georgia’s last leap year home game also was the Bulldogs’ first-ever loss at Stegeman, which was then known as the Georgia Coliseum. Florida knocked off the Bulldogs, 69-64, in 1964. That was Georgia’s third game in the venue after victories over Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt.

In addition, Georgia defeated Ole Miss, 45-28, in the 1940 SEC Tournament and lost to Florida State, 95-82, in Tallahassee in 1960.

Dogs Drawing At Record Pace

Georgia is set to establish a new all-time total attendance record at the Arkansas game.

A year ago, 148,700 fans came through the Stegeman turnstiles to break the previous record by more than 9,000.

Georgia’s total attendance this season is 144,047, just 4,653 shy of the current record.

Tom Crean has credited fan support as an integral part of UGA’s home success, most notably after a December win over SMU.

“We don’t win this game without this crowd,” Crean said bluntly in his postgame press conference. “We do not win this game without this incredible, passionate, stick-with-us, not let us drop crowd. I reminded the players a few times that we’re sitting here in basically a sold-out game, and these fans are not giving up on you, so don’t give up on yourself. I’m extremely proud of how we found a way to win, and I’m unbelievably thankful for our fans.”

And after Auburn win, Crean opened his postgame radio show with: “The fans were here and on their feet. The win is awesome, there’s no question about it, and I’m happy for our team, but the bottom line is that shows we’re building a program. We are going through growing pains and hard days. We are going through adversity. But you don’t get a program built if you lose momentum with your fans. They are staying with us, and I’m so thankful for that. To have everybody here like that supporting us on a Wednesday night means an awful lot. So thank you Dawg Nation, from the bottom of my heart and all of this team.”

Georgia’s average home attendance this season is 9,603, which is on pace to be the second-best tally in program history (trailing only 9,857 in 2002-03).

Another Potential Crowd Record

Against Auburn, the Bulldogs drew a ninth 10,000-plus attendance count of the season. That matched the 2002-03 campaign for the most in school history.

With both the Arkansas and Florida games already sold-out, that mark is all but certain to be broken as well. The only seats that remain for those contests are the 2,000 student tickets that are filled on a first-come, first-served basis on game days.

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