Georgia vs. Gardner Webb: Game Preview and Open Thread

And people thought naming a player-coach for a college team was a bad idea. - Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports
Georgia men's hoops will tip off today at 11:30 a.m. against Gardner-Webb. The early start against the Boiling Springs, NC school is to allow for an estimated 5,000 attendees from Athens-Clarke County schools (students, teachers, etc) who will be on their last day of the calendar year before going on Winter (aka Christmas) Break.

The Dawgs have bounced back from a very disappointing Charleston Classic to win 3 straight home games (App St, Chattanooga, and Lipscomb). Today should be another win, although the Running Bulldogs do pose a challenge having already stayed within 10 points of Missouri at their place. They are coming off a near 30 point defeat to Duke on Monday, and have had a pretty full schedule so far this season coming to town at 6-6 (Georgia is currently 4-4).

Gardner-Webb brings a pair of Georgia natives with them in freshman reserve Donnell Tuff (Tifton), and sophomore F Jerome Hill out of Adel and Cook County. Hill is their third leading scorer with 11.9 per game, and their leading rebounder at 6.3 per. SG Naji Hibbert, a senior in his first season after transferring from Texas A&M, is leading them in scoring at 12.6 per game, while F Donta Harper pours in 12.2 a night. That should be the core of their starting lineup alongside 5'10 junior PG Tyler Strange and senior 6'10 senior C Mike Byron.

Georgia may or may not be missing PG Charles Mann, arguably the team's best player. Playing without him last weekend against Lipscomb led to a tighter than otherwise score, but still a Georgia win. Having to play without him again will be another tough spot. It did give sophomore SF Brandon Morris a chance to return to the starting lineup after a couple games of a non-suspended suspension to start the season and then 4 games off the bench. Kenny Gaines was the only G in the Lipscomb starting lineup, being flanked by Fs Morris, Marcus Thornton, Cameron Forte, and Donte Williams. Nemi Djurisic will continue to provide an offensive spark off the bench, while Juwan Parker will be continue as the main backup on the wings.

Mann's absence did allow for junior walk-on Tyler Echols, out of Eagles Landing Christin Academy in McDonough, to register a career high 23 minutes against Lipscomb, where he put up 9 points on 3-5 shooting (all 3s), along with 4 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals.

For those curious, the Lady Dawgs also just played Lipscomb on Tuesday. A game they won 81-46 as Andy Landers' squad moved to 11-0 on the season. They are currently ranked 16th in the AP poll and 15th in the coaches.

Consider this your open thread for this afternoon's game. Both the men and women return to action Saturday, with the guys hosting Western Carolina at 2:00 p.m in Stegeman, and the women tipping off at that exact same time against Rutgers in New Jersey.

And as always, GO DAWGS!

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