Georgia (12-10, 2-7 SEC) vs. Alabama (12-10, 4-5 SEC)
Saturday, February 8 at 6:00 p.m. ET
Stegeman Coliseum (10,523) in Athens, Ga.
Watch: SEC Network (Paul Sunderland, play-by-play; Pat Bradley, analyst)
Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network Flagship: WSB AM 750 Atlanta. XM: 374; Internet: 374. (Scott Howard, play-by-play; Chuck Dowdle, analyst; Tony Schiavone, producer)
The Starting Five
• Anthony Edwards is the nation’s top-scoring freshman at 19.9 ppg…more than two points per game more than any other Division I freshman.
• Sahvir Wheeler is eight assists away from becoming the first UGA freshman with 100 assists in more than a decade…since Dustin Ware in 2008-09 season.
• Jarvis Hayes was inducted into the Circle of Honor on Feb. 7, becoming Georgia Basketball’s third member of the all-sports group that is the UGAA’s highest honor.
• Six of nine SEC games at Stegeman Coliseum are now sellouts – Kentucky, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Alabama, Arkansas and Florida.
• 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.
The Opening Tip
Georgia opens up a two-game homestand by hosting Alabama at a sold-out Stegeman Coliseum on Saturday evening. The Bulldogs also will entertain South Carolina next Wednesday before returning to the road.
Georgia is 12-10 overall and 10-2 at Stegeman this season. The Bulldogs are averaging 81.1 points at home, where UGA possesses a substantial scoring margin of +13.0 points per game.
Georgia’s average home attendance of 9,581 is on pace to be the second-best effort in school history (trailing only 9,857 in 2002-03). Since two of Georgia’s remaining four home dates following the Alabama outing are already sellouts, the Bulldogs could approach the school-record average attendance mark by season’s end.
Tom Crean has credited fan support as an integral part of the Bulldogs’ home success, most notably following a double-overtime win over SMU on Dec. 20.
“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.”
Anthony Edwards, one of only two freshmen included on the 20-player late-season Wooden Award Watch List, is the nation’s top-scoring freshman at 19.9 ppg. Edwards, this week’s SEC Freshman of the Week, is averaging 28.0 points and 10.3 rebounds over the last three outings.
The first 1,250 UGA students at Saturday’s game will receive red “The Steg” socks, which will be a nice compliment to the black replica game jersey and shorts given away at the last two Saturday home dates.
The Stegeman Coliseum concourse on the Smith Street side of the arena will be transformed into a “Kids Zone,” with face painting, a balloon artist, a sign making station and a bouncy house.
In addition, members of Georgia’s baseball team, which has been ranked as high as No. 4 in preseason polls, will be signing autographs from 4:30-5:30 on the Carlton Street concourse. They also will throw out t-shirts at a timeout to promote Opening Weekend next weekend.
Keeping An Eye On . . . Entering Today’s Game
Among UGA’s Freshman Leaders Anthony Edwards is…
• 43 points from No. 3 Litterial Green
• 77 points from No. 2 Jumaine Jones
• 208 points from No. 1 Jacky Dorsey
Among UGA’s career Leaders Tyree Crump is…
• 9 3FGAs from No. 8 G.G. Smith
• 10 3FGs from No. 10 Jody Patton
Although Alabama leads the series 95-52 overall, the Tide‘s edge in Athens is by a much tighter 32-31 margin.
Last season in Tuscaloosa, Derek Ogbeide‘s 17 points led a quartet of Bulldogs scoring in double figures; however, Alabama earned am 89-74 victory at Coleman Coliseum.
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.
In the Crimson Tide‘s last trip to Athens on Jan. 6, 2018, stifling defense and a 20-point, double-double performance from Yante Maten powered Georgia past Alabama 65-46.
Maten scored 26 points, his 14th straight double-digit output, and grabbed 11 boards, his seventh double-double of the season.
The 19-point win was Georgia‘s largest over the Tide since 1969-70. The Bulldogs‘ defense held Alabama to what was season-low in total points as well as the lowest point total for the first and second halves, individually.
The Bulldogs led 44-24 at the break and never allowed Alabama to get closer than 16 points thereafter.
Scouting The Tide
Alabama is currently 12-10 overall and 4-5 in SEC play. The Tide arrives in Athens looking to snap a three-game losing streak.
After starting SEC play 1-2, Alabama reeled off four consecutive wins, including a 77-74 decision over Kansas State in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. At that point, the Tide was 12-7 overall and 4-2 in the SEC.
In Alabama‘s next outing against LSU, starter Herbert Jones suffered a fractured wrist. He is now out indefinitely. The Tide‘s losing streak coincides with Jones‘ injury.
Through games on Feb. 6, Alabama led the SEC and ranked No. 9 nationally in scoring average at 81.6 points per game. That topped all SEC teams be a relatively wide margin of 1.4 points per contest.