A Georgia Basketball Footnote Leads the Hogs Into the Coliseum


Before Coach Mike Anderson sends his Razorback squad to meet the Georgia Bulldogs, he may glance about the Stegeman Coliseum: All this could have been mine.

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On March 30 2009 The University of Georgia offered then Missouri head Coach Mike Anderson its head basketball coaching position. With Missouri fresh off an Elite Eight NCAA run, the Bulldog Nation was giddy with optimism over reports Missouri had already formed a search committee for Anderson’s replacement.

On April 3 2009, Georgia introduced Mark Fox as its new head basketball coach. The footnote forever links Mike Anderson, Mark Fox and Georgia basketball history.

Almost five years after the dramatic off court events of 2009, the ascent of Bulldog and Razorback basketball brings these two coaches to a dramatic convergence: with both the Dawgs and the Hogs on a path to the NCAA Tournament, Anderson brings his best Arkansas squad so far to face what is Coach Fox’s best squad so far.

Date: 1/6/2015

Tipoff Time: 7:00 PM EST

Venue: Stegeman Coliseum

Radio: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network from IMG, in Atlanta WSB (750 AM) and WSBB (95.5 FM). In Athens: WRFC (AM 960) Sirius 119 and XM 192 – Scott Howard, Chuck Dowdle

Free audio streaming at georgiadogs.com , free video streaming: WatchESPN.com, Live Stats: GameTracker

TV: ESPN – Brad Nessler, Sean Farnham, Shannon Spake

Arkansas Head Coach: Mike Anderson, 69-41, 4th season at Arkansas, 269-139 overall in 13 seasons

Records: Georgia is 9-3 (0-0) vs. Arkansas 10-2 (0-0)

On Tuesday night, Mike Anderson, the 17 year Arkansas assistant under Nolan Richardson, brings his version of Forty Minutes of Hell to the Stegeman Coliseum to face Mark Fox’s cagers. The Razorbacks are 11-2 and ranked No. 23 in the nation, the first time since the 1998-99 season Arkansas enters SEC play ranked by AP.

The Hogs are led by former McDonald’s All-American Bobby Portis a 6’10” sophomore forward from Little Rock, Arkansas. Enthralled as a child by Nolan Richardson’s “40 Minutes of Hell,” Portis created himself and starred for Arkansas whenever he played college basketball video games. Eventually, Portis, took one official visit — to Fayetteville.

Portis is scoring 17 points a game, claiming 8 rebounds a game, shooting 57% from the field on 162 attempts, and 56% from behind the arc to lead the Razorbacks in all five categories. If you stop Portis, do you stop Arkansas? No one really knows for sure yet.

There is no doubt Georgia’s crusty seniors, Marcus Thornton and Nemi Djurisic, will face their greatest defensive challenge of the season since squaring off against Gonzaga’s Scott Witcher in Madison Square Garden.

Witcher took advantage of Gonzaga’s talented backcourt to prevent post help by the Dawg guards. And the Arkansas guard complement to Portis, junior Michael Qualls, will impact the Dawgs defensive plan. The 6’6” guard is scoring 15 points a game and grabbing 5 rebounds.

While Portis leads the team in production, the long armed Qualls presents a big match up problem for the Dawgs. It is likely Georgia expects Charles Mann to step down from the point and defend Qualls, relieving Juwan Parker, who has proved an effective defender so far this season, and ace defender Kenny Gaines.

Starters for Arkansas are Portis, Qualls, junior guard Anthlon Bell, junior (6’1” 185) junior guard Jabril Durham (6’3” 185), junior forward Jacorey Williams (6’8” 215

For Georgia the starters will be Mann, Parker, Thornton, Djurisic and junior guard Kenny Gaines. Sophomore guard J. J. Frazier and freshman forward Yante Maten will be off the bench early. Expect the Dawg septet to take 195 of the games 200 minutes.

Dec 20, 2014; North Little Rock, AR, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks forward Bobby Portis (10) during the game against the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks at Verizon Arena. Razorbacks defeated Redhawks 84-67. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Both Georgia and Arkansas have significant out of conference victories. Georgia has wins over Colorado, Seton Hall, and Kansas State. Arkansas has wins over Dayton and Wake Forest. While Georgia won at K-State, both teams whiffed on opportunities for big road wins – the Bulldogs against Gonzaga and Minnesota in New York and Tech in Atlanta, the Razorbacks at Iowa State and Clemson. “Will the home court hold sway for the Bulldogs?” is the key question for both teams entering this contest.

Expect the Professor Thornton and the Jester Djurisic to get the job done against the talented Portis while a season high Stegeman crowd backs the Dawgs. Georgia opens conference play with a win.

Next: Lady Bulldogs Swamp Alabama, Take Early Conference Lead