Georgia Bulldogs Preview Capsule
Record: 10-12 (2-7)
Season Thus Far: Since we played them last, UGA has seemingly gone from a consistently competitive loser that lost a lot of close games to a wildly inconsistent team that blew a large home lead to the Arkansas Razorbacks, thrashed the SEC heavyweight Vanderbilt Commodores, and then got bounced themselves by the hapless Auburn Tigers. Wanna know how bizarre this team's season has been? Their only two SEC wins came against Vanderbilt and Tennessee, probably the second- and third-best teams in the conference. They've lost all their others, sometimes in excruciating fashion. One constant is that the Dawgs have been pretty good at home, where they've only lost against the Mississippi Rebels and in the aforementioned matchup with the Hogs. With four of seven remaining games at home, and one of the road games against the LSU Tigers, UGA is looking to start making an NIT push against the Gamecocks this afternoon.
What to Expect: UGA continues to be led by Trey Thomkpins and Travis Leslie. However, as talented as Leslie is, it's my impression that as Thompkins goes, UGA goes. Thompkins only played limited minutes against Auburn due to foul trouble, and although Leslie had a big game there statistically as the go-to guy, the Dawgs were largely crushed by a subpar team while Thompkins was off the floor. I wouldn't mind seeing us attack Thompkins and try to get him in foul trouble again, as he provides UGA with its best option to take advantage of our liabilities in the post. Thompkins is a difficult player to guard; he can beat you in multiple ways, and without a similarly versatile big man like Dominique Archie to help us guard him, he should have a big game against us.
Another issue in this game is going to be our 3FG defense. The difference for UGA, outside of more marginal variables such as whether or not Thompkins gets into foul trouble, tends to be whether or not their shooters are on or not. The constant in many of their best performances--including their narrow loss to us, likely their best road outing--is torrid shooting. UGA tends to shoot the ball exceptionally well at home. We will have to work hard to deny UGA's shooters and keep them from getting into a rhythm early on.
Defensively, UGA will likely try some sort of hybrid man-to-man defense. They'll man up on us, but, like Tennessee, you can expect them to have eyes on Devan Downey at all times and to be ready to double up on him as soon as he even thinks about getting into the lane. This will place added emphasis on Downey's ability to distribute and our shooters and bigs to finish. A big game shooting from Brandis Raley-Ross would go a long way in this game.
Finally, UGA C Albert Jackson was arrested yesterday. His status for today is still up in the air as far as I know. (If anyone hears an update, post in the comments section.) Not having Jackson would be a major blow for UGA. Not only is he possibly their only competent big man other than Thompkins, but his loss would also hurt UGA's depth. With UGA already appearing to begin to wear out in the home stretch, not having a guy that plays twenty minutes a night could be devastating to the Dawgs late in the game.
Prediction: This is another hard game to call. We've played poorly on the road while UGA has played well at home, so that's an advantage to UGA. UGA--particularly Thompkins--also matches up well against us, so there's that. The key, I think, will be shooting; if we can disrupt UGA's shooting and shoot well ourselves, we could pick up our second SEC road win. I'm a little skeptical, though, so I'm going to call this one for the Dawgs by 2-4 points. (Note that I've happily been wrong before, particularly against Kentucky and Florida.)
What It Means: Simply put, this is a must-win game for our NCAAs hopes. We need to pick up what would be a slight upset in order to stay afloat, as we have no margin for error in games against teams other than the powerhouses.