The Hoop Hounds cruised to their third straight win Saturday afternoon at Stegeman Coliseum by drilling the visiting Missouri Tigers 68-44. Admittedly the Tigers, 8-21 on the season and having just broken a terrible 13 game losing streak, shouldn't have been expected to put up much of a fight. But given the results the last two times the Red and Black took to the Stegeman stage, one couldn't help but worry that another egg-laying at home might be imminent.
Mark Fox's squad dispelled those fears early and emphatically, taking a double digit lead early in the contest which they stretched to a 41-28 margin at halftime. Missouri, which struggled with poor shooting from the get-go, never cut the deficit to single digits in the second half. Georgia on the other hand, led by 14 points from Nema Djurisic, did the things a tournament-bound basketball team is supposed to do on its home court: shooting close to 40% from the field, hitting a respectable 31% from 3 point land, and seizing a commanding 47-30 advantage on the boards. While Nema was the only starter in double figures, Forte and Frazier each went for 10 off the bench, Marcus Thornton and Kenny Gaines each went for 8 while Kenny Paul Geno chipped in 7. In other words, it was a pretty solid team effort from a group of guys who have struggled to get all the moving parts in order over the past few days. That's a great sign heading down the stretch, even if it wasn't against the league's strongest competition.
The Classic City Canines now own 19 wins on the season, and are a split of their final 2 games away from posting back-to-back 20 win seasons. That's an accomplishment in its own right. But this season will be judged a success by Bulldog fans largely based on where things go from here. Had the Bulldogs been able to weather the recent rash of injuries by not dropping 2 games against South Carolina and a dreadful loss to Auburn, this team would be headed toward the SEC tournament trying to move up to a 6 or perhaps a 5 seed. Instead they've spent the past week in win-to-get-in mode, and I suspect will be playing a tough 8/9 opening round game.
The 'Dawgs get undefeated, #1 ranked Kentucky at home Tuesday night in a game no one expects them to win, but which would cinch their spot in the Big Dance, and really help with seeding if they pulled off a miracle. They finish the regular season a week from today on the road with a chance to get revenge on the Auburn Tigers.