Georgia Basketball Preview: Colorado Buffaloes Bring Challenge for Dawgs


Colorado brings a highly regarded team to Athens to face a Georgia basketball squad still finding its way.

Date: 12/7/2014
Tipoff Time: 12 noon
Venue: Stegeman Coliseum, Athens GA
Radio: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network from IMG, in Atlanta WSB (750 AM) and  WSBB (95.5 FM). In Athens: WRFC (AM 960
TV: SEC Network

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History: In 1876, both the university and the state of Colorado were formally established.

Coach: Tad Boyle entered his fifth year with the CU basketball program with a .648 winning percentage. Boyle graduated from Kansas in 1985. A successful stockbroker, in 1994 he quit his job after a serious automobile collision and took a position as a restricted earnings coach at Oregon. Boyle was head coach at Northern Colorado from 2006 to 2010.

Last year: 23-12 overall, 10-8 Pac-12 (tied for third).

This year: Colorado is 5 – 1 against a pedestrian schedule. The loss, 56 – 33, was to a still undefeated Wyoming team on a night when the Buffaloes shot 28 percent from the floor. (It was the lowest point total for a Colorado team since 1949.)

The Buffaloes made just 12 field goals and the game was likely a fluke. That Wyoming’s biggest win is against a 3 – 4 New Mexico St. team playing a weak schedule doesn’t bode well for Colorado.

Junior power forward Josh Scott (6’10” 245) leads the Buffaloes in minutes played (30) points (16) and rebounds ( 8) per game. Scott is shooting 66% from the field and almost 90% from the free throw line. Junior point guard Xavier Talton, senior shooting guard Askia Booker, junior small forward Xavier Johnson, and sophomore power forward Wesley Gordon will join Scott in the starting lineup. While Scott is off to a fast start, Booker is the anticipated first option for the Buffaloes.

Prognosticators peg the Buffaloes as one of the top two or three teams in the Pac-12, but, based on early season results, Colorado still remains an unknown quantity.

The Game: Sophomore point guard J. J. Frazier (5’10” 150) started in place of Charles Mann (6’5″ 215) in Georgia’s 86 – 55 win over UT- Chattanooga. Frazier was 0-1 shooting and scored 2 points on 2 free throws with 2 assists and a turnover in 20 minutes. Mann scored 16 points on 5 of 7 shooting and 6 of 7 free throws. He added five rebounds and five assists balanced against only two turnovers in 32 minutes.

While Frazier led the Dawgs to a strong start, Mann produced an excellent line score. It will be interesting to see who starts against Colorado. Expect the other starters to be junior Kenny Gaines (6’4″ 200)  at guard, sophomore Juwan Parker (6’4″ 200), senior Nemi Djurisic (6’8″ 230) and senior Marcus Thornton (6’9″ 235) at the forwards. The non-starter between Frazier and Mann will come off the bench early, as will Yante Maten followed by Kenny Paul Geno.

Georgia’s Thornton against Colorado’s Smith is the key matchup. Both big men have been stellar so far this year. Both teams will want to double the star big man with guards. Keep an eye on Colorado’s Booker. Georgia cannot leave the Colorado shooting guard free to play HORSE from the three-point arc.

Nov 25, 2014; Boulder, CO, USA; Colorado Buffaloes guard Jaron Hopkins (23) dunks in the second half against the Air Force Falcons at Coors Events Center. The Buffaloes defeated the Falcons 68-53. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

In return, if Georgia occupies Colorado’s guards defensively with passable three-point shooting from Parker, Mann, and Frazier to go with Kenny Gaines’ efforts,  Thornton and the Dawgs will have a winning night.

Neither Georgia nor Colorado have a meaningful out of conference win this season and whoever get’s this win will take a first step toward the NCAA Tourney. Georgia should be good enough to compete for 40 minutes against Colorado at home but, only if Georgia can avoid the opening minutes bugaboo that has hounded the Bulldogs this season.

Georgia’s best option is to open the game with J. J. Frazier on the court and Charles Mann on the bench – the Bulldogs cannot afford to give away three minutes of poor basketball discovering if Mann now knows how to lead this Georgia basketball team out of the starting gate.