Women’s Basketball Coach/Player Interviews: Vandy Notes

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Women’s Basketball Coach/Player Interviews: Vandy Notes

Haley Clark – Georgia vs. Ole Miss – February 4, 2018 – Photo: Jason Myers/Bulldawg Illustrated
Haley Clark – Georgia vs. Ole Miss – February 4, 2018 – Photo: Jason Myers/Bulldawg Illustrated

#18 Georgia Lady Bulldogs (20-3, 8-2 SEC) vs. Vanderbilt Commodores (6-18, 2-8 SEC)

Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 // 7 p.m. ET // Stegeman Coliseum (10,523)

Watch: SEC Network +  (Matt Stewart — play-by-play, Angel Gray— analyst)

Radio: 103.7 WKXT-FM and 960 AM; also available on GeorgiaDogs.com and the Georgia Bulldog App

(Jeff Dantzler — The Voice of the Lady Bulldogs)


Game Promotions

– First 500 students receive a Georgia 6th man replica jersey; jerseys cannot be claimed until the start of the fourth period.

– Dean’s Challenge – Each Georgia Dean is invited to attend one of four games this season: Missouri, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss or South Carolina.

– Halftime Entertainment – Teams of Tomorrow

Opening Tip 

» 18th-ranked Georgia welcomes Vanderbilt to Athens Thursday evening for their second meeting of the season. The Lady Bulldogs won the first contest, 81-52, in Nashville on Jan. 4.

» Georgia is currently ranked 18th in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls. The Lady Bulldogs are 20th in the latest NCAA RPI.

» The Lady Bulldogs, who are in second place in the SEC standings, are 20-3, which marks the team’s best start in nearly 20 years. The last time a Georgia team began the year with a 20-3 record was the 1999-2000 squad that went on to win the Southeastern Conference Championship.

» A 20-win season is nothing new for the Lady Bulldogs basketball program. In the last 38 years (since 1980-81), Georgia has recorded 20 or more wins 31 times.

» Georgia has won five of the last six meetings against the Commodores, with the only loss during that time coming in a 62-58 overtime defeat at the 2016 SEC Tournament.

» The Lady Bulldogs lead the league and are in the top-10 nationally in assists (16.9 per game) and field-goal percentage defense (34.8 percent).

» Senior forward Mackenzie Engram, who will be honored before Thursday’s game for reaching 1,000 career points, leads the team in scoring with 13.2 points per game. Junior forward Caliya Robinson is the team’s leading rebounder with 7.4 boards per contest and is the SEC’s leader in blocked shots with 77 (3.5 bpg) total this season.


Series Information 

Overall: Georgia leads, 37-27

In Athens:  Georgia leads, 19-7

In Nashville: Vanderbilt leads, 13-11

Neutral Sites: Tied, 7-7

Current Streak:  Georgia has won 5 of last 6

Last Meeting:  Georgia 81, Vanderbilt 52 (1/4/18)

Largest Margin of Victory: Georgia 81, Vanderbilt 52 (1/4/18)

Largest Defeat: Vanderbilt 80, Georgia 50 (1/16/94)

Last Time Out

Led by double-figure performances from the veteran duo of senior forward Mackenzie Engram and junior forward Caliya Robinson, the No. 18 Georgia Lady Bulldogs basketball team topped Ole Miss 69-45 Sunday afternoon at Stegeman Coliseum.


Engram and Robinson totaled 18 and 17 points, respectively, and both recorded their 17th double-digit outings of the season. Robinson’s two blocks placed her in the top-5 all-time among Georgia blockers alongside Christi Thomas. The Marietta, Ga., native has collected 194 in just 80 career contests.


“We came out with adjustments in the second half and it made a difference, the intensity turned up,” Georgia head coach Joni Taylor said. “Ole Miss is a  good team, they have played everyone close and are very good offensively and defensively.”


Georgia (20-3, 8-2), the league-leader in field-goal percentage defense, forced the Rebels (11-12, 1-9) to their lowest scoring output of the season, marking the fourth SEC team to total its fewest points against the Lady Bulldogs.


The Georgia defense also caused 28 turnovers for the second time this season, the Rebels’ highest mark on the year. For the first time in conference play, three Lady Bulldogs — Engram, Robinson, and freshman guard Que Morrison — posted three steals apiece to contribute to a team total of 14, the most for Georgia in SEC competition.


Georgia Notebook


Undefeated January For Only Fifth Time

» Georgia finished the month of January with a perfect 7-0 record. It marked only the fifth time in program history that the Lady Bulldogs have gone undefeated in January. Three of those previous four teams (1985-86, 1990-91 and 1995-96) won the SEC title that same season.


Taylor’s Team Exceeding Expectations … A Three-Year Trend

» Georgia currently sits in second place in the SEC standings, with still a lot of basketball to be played. This year’s performance marks a trend for the Lady Bulldogs under head coach Joni Taylor. Georgia was picked eighth in the SEC’s preseason poll, and so far it looks like the Lady Bulldogs will once again exceed expectations. In Coach Taylor’s first year, Georgia was picked ninth and finished sixth (one game out of fourth). In her second season, the Lady Bulldogs were picked 12th and finished eighth.


Georgia’s Road Streak The Best In Over 20 Years

» The Lady Bulldogs began the year with a perfect 8-0 mark away from home — their best start away from home since the 1994-95 NCAA Final Four team began the year 11-0 away from Stegeman Coliseum. Georgia’s current streak came to an end on Feb. 1, when LSU defeated the Lady Bulldogs, 71-60.


Lady Bulldogs Have Mixture Of Youth And Experience

» Even though the Lady Bulldogs are led by two veteran players in Mackenzie Engram and Caliya Robinson, three of Georgia’s top-5 scorers are actually newcomers. Morrison leads the way with 8.6 ppg, followed by Gabby Connally’s 7.7 ppg and Taja Cole’s 7.4 ppg. Cole has been a key player at the point guard spot this season and ranks fifth in the SEC in assists with 105 total and 4.6 per game.


Robinson A Top-10 Finalist For Katrina McClain Award

» Georgia junior forward Caliya Robinson has been named a finalist for the 2018 Katrina McClain Award, which goes to the nation’s top power forward. The honor is named for the former Lady Bulldog, who as a two-time All-American and the 1987 National Player of the Year. Robinson currently leads the SEC in blocked shots and recently moved into the top-5 of Georgia’s career blocked shots chart.


Robinson Also On The Naismith Trophy National Player Of The Year Watch List

» Lady Bulldog junior forward Caliya Robinson has received national attention for her efforts on the court. Among the SEC’s returning leaders in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots, Robinson was named to the Citizen Naismith Trophy National Player of the Year Watch List, joining 50 of the top players from around the country.


A Top-5 Shot Blocker

» Robinson has moved into the top-5 of the Lady Bulldogs’ career blocked shots leaders. In just 80 games, Robinson has 194 blocks (2.3 per game), which ranks fifth-best in Lady Bulldog history. Perhaps even more impressive is that Robinson has done this in just 80 career games. It took Tasha Humphrey (who is currently in10th place with 119) 126 games, while Anne-Marie Armstrong (in ninth place) recorded 122 blocks in 133 contests.


Balanced Bulldogs

» Georgia’s balanced scoring has helped the team to a fast start this season. Through 23 games, eight or more players have scored in 19 contests. In all, every available player on the Lady Bulldogs’ roster has scored a point, while eight players average 15 or more minutes per game.


It Starts With Defense Under Taylor

» Georgia prides itself on defense, and that has paid off this season. In all, the Lady Bulldogs are 22-0 under Coach Taylor when holding an opponent to 50 points or less and are 17-0 when an opponent shoots less than 40 percent this season.


What A Turnaround

» It took just 18 games into the season for the Lady Bulldogs to reach last year’s win total of 16 games. It took 30 games for Georgia to reach the 16-win total a season ago, with that victory coming at the SEC Tournament against Auburn.


Georgia Boasts Top Women’s Hoops Program

» The Lady Bulldogs have boasted one of the top women’s basketball programs in the nation over the last three decades. During head coach Andy Landers’ 36-year tenure, Georgia ranked No. 2 nationally in both NCAA Tournament appearances (31) and weeks ranked by the Associated Press (522). Georgia is also one of three DI basketball programs to post a winning record every season since women’s athletics became under the auspices of the NCAA with the 1981-82 season. The Lady Bulldogs’ 32 NCAA Tournament appearances rank second only behind Tennessee for most in the nation.


Georgia’s Clark Already A College Graduate

» A three-time selection to the SEC Academic Honor Roll, Haley Clark graduated in just three years and received her diploma from UGA during graduation ceremonies this past May. Clark received her bachelor’s degree in business and finance and is pursuing a master’s in financial planning. One of her career goals is to work in corporate finance and help other athletes with financial planning.


Clark, Engram Earn Leadership Awards

» Haley Clark and Mackenzie Engram enter their senior seasons as the leaders for the Lady Bulldogs. That leadership ability did not go unnoticed by the UGA Athletic Association this past spring, as both Clark and Engram received awards recognizing their efforts in leadership and sportsmanship. The announcement was made at the annual student-athlete awards banquet in April.

Clark received the UGA Athletics Sportsmanship-Ethics Award, which is given annually to one female and male student-athlete who are selected based upon their displays of trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, friendship, caring and citizenship. Engram was chosen for the Clifford Lewis Leadership Award — an honor presented to one female student-athlete who demonstrates a commitment to a group of individuals above personal gain.

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Greg is closing in on 15 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.