Georgia Bulldogs Face LSU in First SEC Basketball Road Test


The Georgia Basketball team rolls to Baton Rouge for it’s first conference road test of the year Saturday.

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The Georgia Bulldogs (9-4, 0-1) lost a tough, close game to Arkansas in a battle of two similar teams in similar circumstances. Georgia goes on the road Saturday to face another team of similar ability and of similar circumstance. The team is LSU (11-3, 0-1) and the circumstances, likely, will be the same from here to the rest of the season – must win. Such is the nature of conference play.

Like Georgia, LSU boasts a successful pre-conference record but comes off a close (overtime) conference loss to the Missouri Tigers. LSU will be coming home; Georgia will have its first conference road test.

Date: 01/10/2015

Tipoff Time: 9:00 PM EST

Venue: Maravich Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge LA.

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


Coach: Johnny Jones in his third season as head coach of the Tigers. It is also his 20th year with the program: four years as a player, 13 years as a member of Dale Brown’s coaching staff and, three years as the head coach at LSU.

Jones was the interim head coach at the University of Memphis during the 1999-2000 season and the head coach at the University of North Texas 2001-02 season,

As a player at LSU, Jones started 54 career games, playing on the 1981 NCAA Final Four team. Nicknamed “The Bullet”, he led the team in assists (124) as a junior and remains ranked 13th in career assists with 271. His 136 career steals ranks 15th all-time.

After finishing his eligibility in 1984, Jones joined head coach Dale Brown’s LSU staff and earned his degree in 1985. Jones served as assistant coach in 1986 and 1987 and as administrative assistant in 1988 before returning to the assistant coach position beginning for the 1988-89

Last year:

In 2013-14 Tigers won 20 games and advanced to post-season play for the first time since 2009. LSU defeated San Francisco in the first round of the NIT. Starter Johnny O’Bryant was selected in the NBA draft by Milwaukee.

Returning are Freshmen ALL-SEC post players Jordan Mickey, the second player in LSU history to block 100 shots in a season, and Jarell Martin.

The Game:

This will be a very even, very tough contest between two desperate teams fighting to avoid an 0 – 2 SEC start.

While both teams boast solid non-conference wins, Georgia has played the tougher schedule. LSU defeated Texas Tech and 16 ranked West Virginia and lost to Clemson and Old Dominion. Georgia lost early challenges to Georgia Tech, Gonzaga, and Minnesota but came away with a road win at Kansas State and home wins against Seton Hall and Colorado. Both teams are tough home, having only one home loss between them (Georgia’s loss to Tech).

Before the LSU loss at Missouri, Coach Jones assessed his team:

"“We never really had a barometer of what our record would be. I was hopeful that we would be able to continue to improve and get better each night. The way we have played down the stretch in games with this young team, the inexperience that we’ve had with only two starters returning, it was going to be interesting. I am really pleased at the efforts our guys have given and where we sit right now, especially with the way we are playing.”"

A concern for LSU – as it is for the Bulldogs – is frontcourt depth.

Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey are fulfilling their pre-season promise as two of the best players in the conference. Martin entered play the SEC’s leading scorer with 18.2 points a game playing 33.9 minutes a night to lead the Tigers.

Mickey plays 33.5 minutes a contest and producing is scoring at 16.3-points clip and is the league’s leading shot-blocker (3.7 per game) and second-best rebounder (10.3 per game) entering conference play. However, close observer Randy Rosetta of New Orleans’ The Times-Picayune notes LSU lacks adequate depth front for conference play.

While Georgia has its depth issues up-front as well, the Dawgs have clearly established that Yante Maten is ready to play. Georgia will attack the talented, but young LSU post players with the wily senior Nemi Djurisic and fifth year pounder Marcus Thornton.

To go with the two talented sophomores, LSU will start a veteran backcourt in junior forward John Odo, junior guard, Keith Hornsby and junior guard Josh Gray.  The two teams are statistically very similar with LSU having an edge in free throw shooting, making 72% of free throws as opposed to Georgia’s 67% average.

Dec 18, 2014; Birmingham, AL, USA; LSU Tigers guard Keith Hornsby (4) drives to the basket against the UAB Blazers at Bartow Arena. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

LSU also snags about two more steals per game than the Bulldogs. However, LSU has a whopping 43 more turnovers on the season than the Bulldogs (the Dawgs have played one less game.) With Georgia having played the tougher schedule, sporting a strength of schedule that ranks ninth verses LSU’s 106, the statistical snapshot favors the Bulldogs.

LSU’s top two scorers are the young starting post players. Savannah, GA freshman Tim Quarterman is the fourth leading scorer and routinely logs over 30 minutes per game. Starting guard Josh Gray is just behind Mickey in turnovers with 43 on the season. So while the LSU frontcourt is talented and the Tigers open the game with an all junior backcourt, the Tigers rank 281 out of 345 teams in turnovers despite having played only 14 games.

How Georgia Wins:

Georgia will look to induce turnovers among what has been an unreliable ball handling team. Georgia will also look to defend the LSU post talents of Mickey and Martin with the veteran Djurisic and Thornton. While the Dawgs are a little short on post players, LSU is even shorter. On the offensive end, Georgia will look to put some foul number pressure on the Tiger’s version of the M & M boys.

No SEC road game is easy, but this is a game the Dawgs can win.

Next: Dawgs Fall to LSU in Overtime