Georgia begins what could be a season-defining stretch this afternoon when the ‘Dawgs take on #9 Memphis.
Coach Penny Hardaway signed the # 1 recruiting class in the country this year and even in the absence of former top recruit James Wiseman, who left the team in December, the young guys are playing outstanding basketball for the Tigers. Memphis (12-1) has a trio of freshmen averaging in double digits, including Precious Achiuwa who leads the team with 14.2 points per game and adds 9.9 rebounds per game. D.J. Jeffries is averaging 12.0 points, and Lester Quinones 11.4.
Memphis’s only loss this season came against #14 Oregon in mid-November, and they enter tonight’s matchup riding a 10 game winning streak. Penny’s team is coming off an 84-73 win over Tulane in which the Tigers shot 54% from the field and out rebounded the Green Wave 41-29.
Georgia (9-3, 0-0 SEC) is coming into the game off a 78-48 win over Austin Peay. So far Tom Crean’s offense has looked impressive, averaging 82.2 points per game. The Red and Black will need Anthony Edwards to win one-on-one matchups and likely outscore his 18.8 point per game season average.
Emerging point guard Sahvir Wheeler and the rest of the UGA backcourt will need to avoid turnovers against a Tiger team that’s capable of scoring without getting extra possessions. And finally, Georgia’s going to need to rebound the ball very well against a Memphis squad with the size and athleticism to dominate on the glass.
A win here would be huge, but the ‘Dawgs need to at least be competitive to avoid a black mark in their tournament resume. With #17 Kentucky and #8 Auburn looming on the schedule (followed by a Tennessee team that fell to Memphis by only 4), the Crean Machine in Red and Black could set itself up nicely by just holding serve with a couple of wins in this stretch. Lose all four however and they’ll likely need a late season run to make the Big Dance.
Today’s matchup will be televised on CBS at 1:00 pm. Until later....