After a season opening 72-52 victory over the Wofford Terriers a week ago, Mark Fox's squad gets ready for game 2 tonight when Brian Gregory's Georgia Tech team comes to Athens. The Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets tip off at 7 in Stegeman and on Fox Sports South.
The Dawgs played pretty well, although the competition can be questioned, last week. Fox was able to give 14 players minutes, 12 of whom scored. Sophomore F Cameron Forte had a solid debut after signing in the spring from Howard Junior College, pouring in 9 points on 4 of 5 shooting from the floor. Starters Kenny Gaines, Nemi Djurisic, and Donte Williams all scored in double figures while combining for 22 rebounds between the three of them. Starting PG Charles Mann struggled a bit having 4 turnovers, while best of all may have been F Marcus Thornton's return to good health as he rounded out the starting lineup and saw 15 minutes of action.
The playing rotation will almost certainly tighten up, and the competition will almost certainly be tougher. But we can assume Georgia will roll with the same starting 5 of Mann and Gaines in the backcourt, Williams at C, with Djurisic and Thornton at F. Forte will be the first F off the bench. JJ Frazier backs up Mann at PG, while fellow freshman Juwan Parker supports the wings. Junior big men Tim Dixon and John Cannon will also be needed against Tech's quality inside play.
Now for a look at the opposition. Tech has started 2-0, with an 85-57 win over Presbyterian and a 68-50 dispatching of Delaware St. So we'd like to think the competition toughens for them too tonight. They've been able to give action to 14 different players, with the same starting 5 in both games.
Expect a backcourt of immediately eligible Tennessee transfer senior PG Trae Golden and sophomore SG Solomon Poole, with Marcus Georges-Hunt at the 3, Robert Carter, Jr at PF and former Georgia commit Daniel Miller at C. Stacey Poole, Jr and Corey Heyward are the backup Gs, and Kammeon Holsey joins Quinton Stephens coming off the bench in the frontcourt. Senior wing Jason Morris is out injured.
The 6'5 Georges-Hunt led them in scoring last year as a freshman, and is a strong, athletic wing capable of putting the ball in the bucket from inside and outside. Georgia should be pretty familiar with their second leading scorer in Golden, having faced him 4 times when he was a Vol. He lit us up for a 16 points in each of two games as a sophomore, but Mann had his best game of the year against Golden last season. Offensively, Golden scored 4 points and went 1-10 from the floor as the Dawgs won 78-68 in Athens on March 2nd, while Mann had 18 pts (thanks in part to a 12 for 14 night from the FT line) to go with 8 assists. It'd be a huge boost if our sophomore from the Atlanta area can have a repeat performance.
Poole was among the rare players to graduate early in basketball, but the highly rated recruit has struggled significantly since arriving in Atlanta. So far this year, he's only hit 3 of 12 shots from the field and just 2 of 7 from 3 pt land. And this after shooting 30% on field goals last season. The also highly recruited Carter, Jr is Tech's best big man, and he'll be a key matchup defensively for Georgia. He's scored 24 points and snagged 14 rebounds in the two games so far, after averaging almost 10 pts and 7 boards as a freshman last year.
Redshirt senior Daniel Miller, grandson of legendary Bulldog athlete Spec Towns, was committed to Georgia under Dennis Felton. But when Mark Fox arrived he decided to let the 7'er from Loganville loose, and it's proven to be a mistake (understandable at the time, but 20/20 hindsight and all that). Miller hasn't developed into a star, but he's started every game since taking a redshirt and put up a solid 8 pts per game with over 6.5 rebounds in each of the last 2 season, while blocking better than 2 shots per game all 3 years (he currently sits 3rd all-time in blocked shots for Tech). He's a presence in the paint defensively, and has worked hard to become an effective offensive player around the rim.
The Yellow Jackets present several interesting matchups for Georgia, and both teams will be using it as the first real gauge of what they can expect in the 2013-14 season. If you can make it down tonight, please do because a boisterous crowd would be rather beneficial for the home team. Since we can expect a decent amount of white and gold in the stands, the red and black needs to show up strong in support of our team. And of course....