The Georgia Bulldogs will play one of the better teams in the SEC this season when the rival South Carolina Gamecocks come to town for a 7:00 PM ET tipoff.
The Georgia Bulldogs bring their 11-8 record back to Athens for a 7:00 PM ET game Tuesday night against one of the surprisingly better teams in the SEC in Frank Martin’s 19-2 South Carolina Gamecocks. Tipoff is at 7:00 PM ET at Stegeman Coliseum and the game will air on ESPN U.
It took some time but Martin, who did a fantastic job as the head coach at Kansas State, now has one of the most physically dominating teams in the SEC along with possible National Title contender Texas A&M.
Last season the Dawgs lost both of their regular season games against the Gamecocks, but did beat South Carolina in the SEC Tournament en route to the 2015 NCAA Tournament. It’s interesting what a difference a year makes, as USC is certainly tournament bound and UGA has almost no chance to win 20 games again this year to get back to the Big Dance.
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Georgia is riding a two-game losing streak, falling in Baton Rouge to Ben Simmons‘ LSU Tigers, 89-85 on Tuesday, and to Taurean Prince‘s Baylor Bears in Waco on Saturday in the Big 12/SEC Challenge, 83-73. Interestingly, the Georgia Bulldogs lost similarly in both tough road games: early foul trouble in the front court led to strictly a jump shooting offense that played well, but not well enough to beat a more dominant team on the inside.
Since the SEC realigned its biannual rivalries this past summer, the South Carolina Gamecocks are one of two teams that the Dawgs will play annually in perpetuity, along with the Auburn Tigers and the Florida Gators. It’s interesting how Georgia’s three biggest rivalries on the gridiron now are appropriately translated to the hardwood.
For the Georgia Bulldogs to hold up against their biannual basketball rival South Carolina, Yante Maten will have to avoid getting two early fouls, as that essentially forces head coach Mark Fox’s hand to pull out its best interior offensive threat early in the contest. The frontcourt as a whole will have to play better to give the Dawgs a chance in this fight.
The shame in the last two losses for the Georgia Bulldogs is that the backcourt trio of J.J. Frazier, Kenny Gaines, and Charles Mann have played sensationally. Frazier may enter his senior season in Athens next year as a member of the All-SEC First Team. There isn’t an outside shot he isn’t comfortable making. He’s also great at distributing the basketball, which will only help UGA once Mann graduates next year. Frazier is one of the better rebounding guards in the SEC as well.
Mann is doing a fine job of running the point and even playing some point forward defensively to aid in UGA’s times of foul trouble. He is still driving to the basket as always and is closing in on becoming Georgia’s greatest free throw shooter in team history. Gaines is showing that he can carry the team with his outside shot to make any deficit the Dawgs face within striking distance of a comeback, no matter how unrealistic it seems.
Overall, the 2015-16 Georgia Bulldogs have the high-end talent of the best teams in the SEC, but lack the necessary depth to navigate a tough season schedule, to win on the road, to navigate extensive tournament runs, or to play in its second straight and third overall NCAA Tournament in the Mark Fox era in Athens. A win over South Carolina could stand as positive momentum in what has largely been an inconsistent UGA team this winter. Let’s Go Dawgs!