The top of the SEC basketball this season has been pretty stable. Georgia, with a deep roster full of athletes and veteran leaders, was supposed to be among that group. They have not been, and look set to finish off a three game set against the front runners following a tight OT loss in Kentucky and another close defeat in South Carolina. The Gators have been the third part of the trio atop the SEC, and they’ll come to Athens tonight for a game in Stegeman at 7 on ESPN 2 for those who can’t be inside the cozy concrete-roofed confines.
Georgia has been running out Turtle Jackson over freshman Jordan Harris in the starting five since our last win, at home over Texas two weeks ago. Harris will still play considerable minutes off the bench, but it’ll be the sophomore at PG on the floor to open things tonight alongside senior JJ Frazier, juniors Yante Maten and Juwan Parker, and sophomore big man Derek Ogbeide.
Maten has been our star, and a consistent light all season. Ogbeide has been a steady force on the glass, and Parker plays well as the glue guy to complete the front line. But the issues in the backcourt, with Jackson and Harris both struggling to take hold of a spot, and Frazier struggling defensively, with his shot, and with turnovers all season has kept the Dawg needing a near miracle to dance this March. And tonight is one of the last two chances this regular season (Kentucky comes to town on the 18th) for the kind of marquee win we’d need to make our chances just mostly dead instead of all dead.
But Florida won’t make that easy for us. Some of us may remember Mike White from his days coaching Louisiana Tech when they dusted us in the NIT. His teams like to press, and like to run, and as some of us may remember from our game at Texas A&M (and I know I’d like to forget it), Georgia doesn’t exactly do well against a team that likes to run and put on a full court press/trap. So stylistically, we’re not in a good starting position.
We can lean on the hope that this team is talented, and was good enough to take the Gators to overtime in their house (something Kentucky couldn’t do in their 22 point loss Saturday). Then again, this Florida squad has gotten pretty hot of late, winning their last four games by an average of 32 points (any gamblers among us might note that with the current spread Florida -6).
They’ve had a consistent lineup all season, with senior Kasey Hill and sophomore KeVaughn Allen starting every game at guard, while senior Justin Leon and junior Devin Robinson have started every game at forward. Big John Egbunu, a Nigerian with Atlanta ties from his high school and AAU days, mans the middle for them, and will bang on the block plenty against fellow Nigerian Ogbeide for the Dawgs.
Senior Canyon Barry, the youngest son of NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry, gives them plenty of minutes and some excellent wing offense off the bench. Junior G Chris Chiozza and big men Kevarrius Hayes and Keith Stone join Barry as the main men on Mike White’s bench. They’ll force a lot of turnovers, if we help them there, and will shoot a lot of threes in a very much Fun n’ Gun style for the hardwood.
Our close defeat in Gainesville gives hope, but we’ve had a lot of close losses that for some reason always seem to be ending in Ls these days, while they are red hot and a matchup nightmare for us. But this is why the suns burn with the hate of a million other hate-fueled suns for the Gators, so as always....
GAME & BROADCAST INFO
- Opponent: Florida Gators
- Records: Georgia (13-10, 4-6 SEC), Florida (18-5, 8-2 SEC)
- Rankings: Georgia NR, Florida No. 17
- Tipoff: Tuesday, February 7 at 7:00 p.m. ET
- Location: Stegeman Coliseum (10,523) in Athens, Ga.
- TV: ESPN2 (Tom Hart, PBP; Kara Lawson, analyst)
- Video Stream: WatchESPN.com
- Radio: Georgia Bulldog Network by IMG (Scott Howard, PBP; Chuck Dowdle, Color; Tony Schiavone, Producer)
- Flagship: WSB AM 750 | Affiliates | Sirius: 134; XM: 384
- Audio Stream: Georgiadogs.com | Mobile
- Live Stats: View