Georgia Bulldogs Host Murray State Friday Night


The Georgia Bulldogs hope to win their first game of their basketball season, but will have to face a talented mid-major in the Murray State Racers.

After making the NCAA Tournament in 2015, the Georgia Bulldogs’ first home game of 2015-16 was a tough overtime loss to the Chattanooga Mocs, 92-90. With Mark Fox’s program being on of ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s First Four Out entering the season, I came away disappointed that the Georgia Bulldogs would drop their home opener to Chattanooga.

UGA dug themselves a whole early that they were able to overcome, but the defensive tenacity and the rebounding accustomed with a Fox coached team was not there. While their Team Offensive Rating is a strong 107.1, their Team Defense Rating is a weak 109.5. Georgia has to play better on the defensive edge of the floor and not give up uncontested shots.

-= Related: Georgia Bulldogs’ Breakout Players of 2015-16 =-

The main reason I wasn’t pleased with the UTC loss was that the Dawgs’ next opponent was a great mid-major in Murray State. The Racers have put themselves into the tournament discussions the last few years, being ranked in the AP Top 25 last season.

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Unfortunately, their 29-6 mark wasn’t good enough to make the Tournament. Murray State also lost their former head coach in Steve Prohm to the lucrative Iowa State gig in Ames. The Racers are now led by Matt McMahon.

Murray State has been a hot bed for rising head coaching talent. Before hiring McMahon, the Racers’ three previous head coaches were Prohm (Iowa State), Billy Kennedy (Texas A&M), and Mick Cronin (Cincinnati), all three programs with major NCAA Tournament aspirations. While Murray State could be in a year of transition under McMahon, they are 2-0 and UGA will have to play better to win tonight.

What I’ve liked out of the Georgia Bulldogs in the first game was the inside presence of Sophomore F Yante Maten. The Pontiac, Michigan native had 17 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 blocks playing 40 minutes last week. If UGA can get back into the Tournament, he’ll be a big reason for it.

Obviously, the back court trio of Charles Mann, Kenny Gaines, and J.J. Frazier produce plenty of offense for the Dawgs. Mann still gets to the free throw line prolifically. Frazier is still lethal from the outside. Gaines still plays a winning brand of basketball in the back court. If all three are healthy and play as a cohesive group, UGA can hang with anybody on the offensive end.

Next: Georgia Bulldogs Lose Home Opener in OT to Mocs, 92-90

I’d like to think the opening night loss was a wake up call to the UGA program. The Dawgs normally play their best basketball of the year during conference play, but how the team fares in the non-conference is usually a strong indicator of if they can get into the Tournament. Expect to see an inspire bunch tonight. Tipoff is at 7PM ET at Stegeman Coliseum. The game will air on SECN+. Go Dawgs!