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Georgia @ Alabama Preview and Open Thread

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi State at Georgia Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Well, this one will be something new. Georgia enters tonight’s 7 p.m. affair at Alabama with a squad that will be unlike any they’ve had all season. That’s because junior big man Yante Maten is sidelined due to a sprained knee and unlikely to appear again before the SEC Tournament, if not next season.

ESPN 2 will be airing the game, a repeat of one the Dawgs looked extremely poor in when the two faced off in Stegeman Coliseum a month ago. G JJ Frazier will need to provide a strong scoring punch, while sophomore Derek Ogbeidge looks to grow in to the void left alongside him in the paint. Juwan Parker will start somewhere as well, and probably sophomore E’Torrion Wilridge has staked his claim to be a fixture in the first five the rest of the way. Whether Wilridge is on the wing with Parker, or inside with Ogbeide, we can find out together.

Sophomore big man Mike Edwards or PG Turtle Jackson could get the nod, or freshmen guards Tyree Crump or Jordan Harris, or maybe senior Houston Kessler. Junior Pape Diatta will also get some work, and would provide an interesting positionless style trio with Parker and Wilridge, as would Harris if Mark Fox opted for either of them in the starting lineup tonight. Basically, the man has options, so the creative side can come out as he attempts to cover for missing one of the SEC’s best. There will also likely be plenty of mixing and matching during the first half as Fox looks for the right fit without his star.

The Tide are sitting on a bubble, and could use a quality home win to help finish the season strong. We’re followed by four more winnable games, which could solidify their NCAA hopes. They play a physical, half court style led by freshman wings Braxton Key and Dazon Ingram. Junior wing Riley Norris adds a third versatile and long threat, with Donta Hall and Bola Oyaniyan inside. Avery Johnson Jr and Corban Collins provided a little extra PG play off the bench, Ar’mond Davis adds another wing, and Jimmie Taylor gives them some length.

This game provides a lot of opportunity, both good and bad for the Dawgs. So it’ll be interesting to see what we get in the final five games of 2016-2017’s regular season. Next week Stegeman hosts LSU on Saturday and Auburn Wednesday.