Minnesota – Georgia basketball preview: big opportunity in the Big Apple


The Georgia basketball team completes NIT Tip-Off competition with a third place game against Minnesota Friday evening in Madison Square Garden.

Date: 11/28/2014

Tipoff Time: 4:30 pm

Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York

Radio: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network from IMG, in Atlanta WSB (750 AM) and  WSBB (95.5 FM). In Athens: WRFC (AM 960


Location: Minneapolis with an enrollment over 55,000,

More from Georgia Basketball

Founded as a preparatory school in 1851, in 1867  The

University of Minnesota

was established as Minnesota’s land grant university and official recipient of public support. Two students received the first bachelor of arts degrees in 1873. Only 22 years later Minnesota joined the Big Ten as a founding member in 1895.

Coach: Richard Pitino is in his second year at Minnesota, following Tubby Smith as head coach. Pitino came to Minnesota after one season as head coach at Florida International, three seasons as assistant coach for father Rick Pitino at Louisville, and two seasons as an assistant at Florida.

Tubby Smith won 20 games in five of his six years with the Gophers. After his firing, several top candidates refused the Gopher head coaching job, Minnesota hired Pitino  despite only one year of head coaching experience..

The first year of the Pitino era at Minnesota ended with a NIT championship and a 25-13 record.

Record: 3 -2 with losses to Louisville and St. Johns and a win against Western Kentucky.

Lost from last years Gopher team was 40 % of the point production and 40% of the minutes played and points scored.

However, the Gophers will start returning senior guards Andre Hollins and DeAndre Mathieu, preseason top 25 Big Ten players. The Gophers also return 6’10” forward Maurice Walker who averaged 7.8 points in just 16 minutes per game last year and 6’9” junior forward Joey King, who hit 38.2 percent of his 3-pointers.

Chipola College transfer 6’5” Carlos Morris, part of the not so great Minnesota recruiting class, will also start. Center Elliott Eliason, a 6-11 240 redshirt senior, the best big man in the conference according to Pitino, will come off the bench.

http://www.collegesportsmadness.com/article/9800 ranks Minnesota as the 46th best team in the country and an NCAA Tourney team.

In Minnesota’s early season Pitino vs Pitino “take your kid to work” 61 -81 loss to Louisville in Louisville, the Gophers shot 40% from the field, 22% on three-point tries and 69% on free throws. Rebounding and turnovers were generally even.

Against St. Johns on Wednesday night, Minnesota shot 47% from the field, 55% on three-point tries and 67% from the free throw line. Walker, Hollins Morris and Nate Mason were the leading contributors in points and rebounds in those two games and played over twenty minutes in each. Joey King also played over twenty minutes in each game. Hollins played over 30 minutes both games.

Georgia is expected to start junior guards Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann, sophomore guard Juwan Parker, and senior forwards Nemanja Djurisic and Marcus Thornton.

J. J. Frazier has been very effective off the bench and is taking starter’s minutes. The sophomore guard currently has 16 assists and four turnovers and scored 14 against a talented and mature Gonzaga backcourt. Don’t be surprised at any point if he becomes a starter in place of Juwan Parker.

Expect the Dawgs to chomp off a big, juicy, Big Apple win.

Thornton and Djurisic are both playing

the best ball of their lives

, with Thornton claiming two career point highs already this season and two of his four career double doubles. Djurisic is not only scoring and rebounding, he almost claimed a triple double this season and leads the conference with a 13 – 1 assist to turnover ratio on 13 assists and 1 turnover while playing in the paint. Gaines, after being slowed early in the season by illness, now is averaging 12.8 points per game despite a poor showing against Gonzaga.

Statistically, the Dawgs were a match for the talented Gonzaga Bulldogs with the exception of foul shooting where the Zags shot an amazing 91% and the Dawgs a less than pedestrian 63%. Georgia shot 50% from the field and the Georgia big men scored 24 and claimed 13 rebounds against the kind of physical front line that over-matched Djurisic and Thornton in recent seasons.

If the Gonzaga game had taken place in a hospital, a surgeon would have pronounced the operation a success despite the Georgia’s demise.

It is very early in the season, but comparing Georgia’s effort against Gonzaga with Minnesota’s effort against Louisville and St. Johns reveals the Dawgs as the better team.

The Golden Gophers provide a great opportunity for Georgia. Expect the Dawgs to chomp off a big, juicy, Big Apple win against a Big Ten team considered good nationally with a high-profile coach.