The Georgia Lady Bulldog basketball team is set to open the 2016 SEC Tournament at Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida on Thursday. No. 6 seed UGA will face 11th-seeded Vanderbilt, who defeated Ole Miss on Wednesday.
Georgia (21-8, 9-7 SEC) vs. Vanderbilt (17-13, 5-11 SEC)
SEC Second Round | Thursday, March 3, 2016 | Veterans Memorial Arena | Jacksonville, Fla.
TV: SEC Network // Paul Sunderland (PBP), Carolyn Peck (Analyst) and Steffi Sorensen (Analyst)
Radio: Georgia Bulldog Radio Network by IMG (Jeff Dantzler, PBP)
Live Stats: GeorgiaDogs.com
» Georgia enters the 2016 SEC Tournament following an impressive regular season under first-year head coach Joni Taylor. The Lady Bulldogs, who lost starters Mackenzie Engram (to an illness) and Shacobia Barbee (to an injury), have won seven of their last nine games heading into the tourney. Georgia finished the year 21-8 with wins against five ranked teams — the most by a Lady Bulldog squad in a single season since 2006-07.
» UGA has its eyes set on returning to the NCAA Tournament for the 32nd time in school history. The Lady Dogs enter play this week with a No. 26 RPI and 24th-ranked strength of schedule. Of Georgia’s eight losses this season, five have come against teams ranked in the top-25 at the time.
» Georgia players piled up SEC postseason accolades this season, with Shacobia Barbee (first team) and Tiaria Griffin (second team) placing on the All-SEC Team, Caliya Robinson landing on the All-Freshman Team and Marjorie Butler earning the program’s first-ever Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award. In addition to her All-SEC selection, Barbee also placed on the All-Defensive Team.
» The Lady Bulldogs boast the top defense in the SEC, leading the league in scoring defense (53.8 ppg) and 3-point FG percentage defense (24.0 percent), while ranking second in FG percentage defense (34.8 percent). Only three teams have shot 40 percent or better from the field against Georgia this season.
» This marks Georgia’s 37th appearance in the SEC Tournament. The Lady Bulldogs own a 46-32 record in the annual event and have won the tournament title four times — 1983, 1984, 1986 and 2001.
A Georgia Win Would …
» Be the Lady Bulldogs’ 22nd win of the year, marking Georgia’s most wins since the 2012-13 NCAA Elite Eight Team went 28-7. UGA has now totaled 20 wins or more in 30 of the past 36 seasons.
» Give Georgia its 47th win all-time in the SEC Tournament. The Lady Bulldogs’ 46 victories are the second most behind Tennessee.
» Help Georgia advance to the quarterfinals for the 17th-straight year — a streak that goes all the way back to the 1999 SEC Tournament.
Overall: Georgia leads, 35-26
In Athens: Georgia leads, 18-7
In Nashville: Vanderbilt leads, 13-10
Neutral Sites: Georgia leads, 7-6
Current Streak: Georgia has won three-straight games
Last Meeting: Georgia won, 64-58, in Nashville (1/31/16)
Joni Taylor Is Georgia’s Women’s College Coach Of The Year
» Joni Taylor, who has led the Georgia Lady Bulldog basketball team to a 21-8 overall record in her first season as head coach was named the 2016 Whack Hyder Georgia Women’s College Coach of the Year by the Atlanta Tipoff Club earlier this week.
Taylor has led the Lady Bulldogs to impressive heights in her first year at the helm of the program, as the team has its eyes set on returning to the NCAA Tournament. Among other accomplishments, Taylor has guided Georgia to a 9-7 mark in the rigorous SEC this season and has mentored All-SEC performers Shacobia Barbee and Tiaria Griffin as well as All-Freshman Team selection Caliya Robinson and the SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year Marjorie Butler.
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. UGA also has a victory against BYU, who has a No. 12 RPI and boasts a 23-4 overall record.
Georgia Finishing Strong
» The Lady Bulldogs enter the SEC Tournament having won seven of their final nine SEC regular season games, with their only losses coming on the road at No. 2 South Carolina by 10 points — 61-51 — and at Tennessee. During the current nine-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 (7.9 ppg) and second in rebounding (5.3 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.
Hempe Named To SEC Community Service Team
» Senior forward Merritt Hempe has been named to the SEC Community Service Team. 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.
Lady Bulldogs Setting Defensive Records
» Georgia currently ranks near the top of the SEC 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 53.8 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 29 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.
Barbee Among Career Leaders
» Georgia senior guard Shacobia Barbee has become arguably one of the most versatile players in the SEC throughout her career. The Murfreesboro, Tenn., native ranked among the SEC’s career active leaders in several categories at the time of her injury, including rebounding, steals and assists. Barbee ranks in the top three in each of these statistical rankings, while her 274 career steals ranks ninth in Georgia history. Barbee is also fourth among active SEC players in career double-doubles with an impressive 19 over the last three and a half years.
Griffin’s Mark From The Arc
» Senior guard Tiaria Griffin went over 200 made 3-point baskets for her career in the team’s outing vs. Ole Miss. Griffin now has 218 made 3-point baskets, which is the top mark for any current player in the Southeastern Conference. The 5-foot-7 guard has hit 72 shots from behind the arc this season — a total which also ranks first in the SEC. She is currently No. 3 on UGA’s all-time career 3-point baskets made chart.
Butler Named SEC Scholar-Athlete Of The Year And CoSIDA District 4 Academic All-America
» 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 was also most recently named the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Butler, who has started each of Georgia’s 29 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.
Strong Start One For The Records
» The 12-1 start for Georgia head coach Joni Taylor ties for the third-best start by an SEC coach in his or her first season at a school since women’s basketball became an NCAA sport. Pokey Chatman (13-0, LSU in 2004-05) and Tom Collen (13-0, Arkansas in 2007-08) are the only two to have better starts through their first 13 games.
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