Kevin C. Cox
Your University of Georgia mens basketball team will take on the Vanderbilt Commodores tonight at 9 p.m. eastern at Memorial Gym in Nashville. Don't even think about watching unless you've read this essential preview. And even if you do, don't think about watching without coming here to commiserate with your fellow 'Dawg fans.
When last we saw those intrepid Hoop Hounds, they were hacking their way through what might very well have been the ugliest conference basketball win in recent memory, a 62-54 . . .um . . .victory? . . . over South Carolina. A game so awful that CBS cut away from it before it went to overtime.
But that's the thing about SEC basketball this season. As bad as the Bulldogs have played at times, they still find themselves with a 13-14 overall record and a 7-7 slate in conference play. Which places them squarely in front of Vanderbilt (11-15, 5-9) in the conference standings. That's been a rare feat in recent years, as Vanderbilt has won 6 in a row in the series, last falling to the Bulldogs over 3 years ago on February 6, 2010.
But don't feel too sorry for the private schoolers from Nashville. They're coming off a 75-31 thrashing of Mississippi State in which they enjoyed a decisive 51-17 rebounding edge. The Commodores are led by sophomore guard Kedren Johnson, who's averaging 13.4 points and 3.5 assists per game, and freshman Kevin Bright, who's averaging an impressive 5.5 rebounds per game from his guard spot. Much like the Bulldogs, Coach Kevin Stallings's squad has had trouble scoring the basketball, ranking 317th in the nation in scoring at 60.0 points per game.
That's bad, but not quite as bad as Georgia (324th in scoring at 59.7 per outing), which is still searching for someone to back up Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the only Hoop Hound averaging over 8 points per game. That's historically bad, though there have been signs of improvement in recent days, albeit in fits and starts.
In this tossup between two not very good teams, I think the deciding edge is home court advantage. Georgia plays horribly in Memorial Gym, every time, every year. I'm hoping the Hoop Hounds can crawl over the .500 mark in conference play tonight, but I'm not predicting it. MaconDawg's score prediction guaranteed to be wrong: Vandy 65, UGA 56.
While your mileage may vary, it's my understanding that tonight's game is available on Fox Sports South in Georgia, and via the inter tubes elsewhere. We'll see you back here at tip off.
Until later . . .
editors note: The game is at 9:00pm Athens Standard Time, covered on FSN, Gametracker and ESPN 3.