Winners of seven of its last eight games and in the middle of a tight SEC race, the Georgia Lady Bulldog basketball team is set to close out the 2015-16 regular season at Tennessee on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. Sunday’s tilt will air nationally on ESPN2.
Georgia (21-7, 9-6 SEC) vs. Tennessee (16-12, 7-8 SEC)
Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016 | Thompson-Boling Arena | Knoxville, Tenn. | 1 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN2 // Roy Philpott (PxP) and Katie Smith (Analyst)
Radio: Georgia Bulldog Radio Network by IMG (Jeff Dantzler, PBP)
Live Stats: GeorgiaDogs.com
» Georgia enters Sunday’s game in Knoxville as one of the hottest teams in the nation, having won seven of its last eight games on the year, with three of those victories coming on the road and two wins coming against ranked opponents.
» UGA will be playing for a No. 4 seed and double-bye in next week’s SEC Basketball Tournament. The Lady Bulldogs, who are currently in a three-way tie with Florida and Kentucky for fourth place, own the tiebreaker based on each team’s winning percentage against the group of three. The Wildcats host Texas A&M, while the Gators host Auburn on Sunday. Several tiebreaker scenarios are still in play, but if all three teams win on Sunday, Georgia will still take the No. 4 seed.
» The Lady Bulldogs are currently ranked 18th in the latest RPI, with a strength of schedule of 22 heading into the final regular season game. UGA is receiving votes in both polls and owns a 5-3 record against teams ranked 15 through 25 or receiving votes in the AP poll.
» Georgia is in search of its first win in Knoxville since 1996, when the Lady Bulldogs downed the Lady Vols, 94-93, in overtime. UGA’s last win against Tennessee came in 2010 in Athens, when Georgia took a 53-50 victory. UGA is looking to break a nine-game losing streak against Tennessee.
» Georgia boasts the No. 1 defense in the SEC, leading the league in scoring defense, field-goal percentage defense and 3-point field-goal percentage defense. The Lady Bulldogs have held 26 of 28 opponents this season to 40 percent or below shooting. UGA has also held the rebounding edge 18 times on the year and owns a 17-1 record in those games.
» The Lady Bulldogs used a team effort to take down Arkansas on Thursday as eight different players scored. Four Lady Dogs scored in double figures, led by Merritt Hempe’s 18 points.
A Georgia Win Would …
» Could put the Lady Bulldogs as high as the No. 3 seed in the 2016 SEC Tournament depending on the result of the Mississippi State vs. Alabama game and other tiebreaker scenarios.
» Put the Lady Bulldogs’ final SEC record at 10-6 and give UGA its best conference record since the 2012-13 NCAA Elite Eight team went 12-4 in SEC action.
» Be UGA’s third-straight win of the year and eighth victory in the last nine games.
Overall: Tennessee leads, 48-15
In Athens: Tennessee leads, 14-8
In Knoxville: Tennessee leads, 20-4
Neutral Sites: Tennessee leads, 14-3
Current Streak: UT has won nine straight
Last Meeting: UT won, 75-41 (3/6/15)
Tennessee enters Sunday’s game having lost three of its last four games of the season, including back-to-back losses at LSU and at Alabama. The Lady Vols are led by Diamond DeShields, who averages 13.1 points per game. Joining DeShields in double figures are Bashaara Graves and Mercedes Russell, who each average over 10 points per game. UT is a strong rebounding team, owning a +7 rebounding margin this season.
Five Top-25 Wins
» Georgia has won five games over ranked opponents during the regular season for the first time since 2006-07. Four of those victories have come against SEC foes, while one win came against then-No. 21 Seton Hall, who is receiving votes in the Coaches Poll. UGA also has a victory against BYU, who is receiving votes, has a No. 12 RPI and boasts a 23-4 overall record.
Georgia Finishing Strong
» The Lady Bulldogs enter the final week of regular season action having won seven of their last eight games, with their only loss coming on the road at No. 2 South Carolina by 10 points — 61-51. During the current eight-game span, UGA has won three road games, including a 15-point victory at then-No. 20 Missouri.
Lady Bulldogs Winning On The Road
» Georgia has played exceptionally well on the road this season, picking up six road victories, including four against conference opponents. The Lady Bulldogs recorded a pair of firsts on the road this season — downing Vanderbilt in Nashville for the first time since 2006 and defeating LSU in Baton Rouge for the first time since 2001.
Tight Matchup At No. 2 South Carolina
» Georgia came very close to pulling off an upset and becoming the first SEC team to defeat No. 2 South Carolina this season. The Lady Bulldogs battled hard against the Gamecocks, getting within five points — 50-45 — with just 2:29 remaining in the game, before eventually falling by a score of 61-51 to the SEC regular season champions. The 61 points scored by South Carolina represented the Gamecocks’ second-lowest SEC scoring effort this season.
Robinson A Three-Time SEC Freshman Of The Week
» Georgia freshman forward Caliya Robinson has earned Freshman of the Week honors three times overall this season as she is now third on the team in scoring (7.3 ppg) and second in rebounding (5.1 rpg) in conference play.
Robinson earned the most recent honor thanks to a strong performance on the road at LSU on Feb. 14. The 6-foot-3 forward scored a career-high 19 points and tallied a career-best 11 rebounds as she led Georgia in scoring and recorded her third double-double of the season.
Tiaria Griffin Looking To Move Up Career 3-Point Chart
» Georgia senior guard Tiaria Griffin has been on fire as of late, averaging 18.6 ppg over the last six games. Griffin most recently tallied a career high of 28 points against then-No. 22 Florida, hitting six 3-pointers in a row and scoring 22 points in the final 20 minutes to lead the Lady Dogs to their third-straight victory against the Gators. For her efforts, Griffin earned SEC Player of the Week honors, which marked the second time in her career she has garnered the weekly award.
Griffin needs just two 3-point baskets to move into third place on UGA’s all-time career chart.
Lady Bulldogs Setting Defensive Records
» Georgia currently leads the league in all three major defensive categories — scoring defense, field-goal percentage defense and 3-point field goal percentage defense.
Georgia is holding teams to just 52.9 points per game this season. If that average holds, it would break a school record of 53.9 points per game allowed, which was set back in the 2012-13 season. The Lady Bulldogs have already broken the school record for both points allowed by an opponent (28 vs. Georgia Southern on Nov. 24) and points allowed by an SEC opponent (30 vs. Auburn on Jan. 28) in a single game.
The Lady Bulldogs have held 26 of 28 opponents at 40 percent or lower shooting this season and have held six teams — Georgia Southern, Kennesaw State, Wright State, Mississippi State, Auburn and Missouri — to their season lows in scoring.
Hempe Named To SEC Community Service Team
» Senior forward Merritt Hempe has been named to the SEC Community Service Team, it was announced by the league office this past Wednesday.
The Fredericksburg, Va., native participates in numerous community service efforts, including Special Olympics Homeruns for Hometown Rivals baseball game, Toys for Tots, writing Holiday cards for deployed soldiers, helping provide safe routes to school by partnering with Barrow Elementary, providing toiletries collection for the homeless, visiting Stroud Elementary throughout the year to encourage and mentor children, is an Alzheimer’s Walk Volunteer and Ath-Half Volunteer, and volunteers as an AAU coach and operations staff member.
Butler Named To CoSIDA District 4 Academic All-America Team
» Georgia starting point guard and aspiring orthopedic surgeon Marjorie Butler has been named to the CoSIDA District 4 Academic All-America Team, making her eligible for the Academic All-America squad, which will be announced in March.
Butler, who has started each of Georgia’s 28 games this season and is fourth in the SEC in assist-to-turnover ratio, will graduate with her second degree from the University of Georgia this coming May. The Knoxville, Tennessee native, who already has a degree in exercise science, currently sports a 3.81 GPA in biology.
She has already been accepted to some of the top medical schools in the nation, including the University of Virginia, Vanderbilt University, University of Florida, UAB, Meharry (Tenn.) College and East Tennessee State University.
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