Georgia Basketball Visits Vanderbilt For a Crucial Road Game


Recent stumblings by the Georgia basketball team  have created a huge early conference road test.

After 14 games apiece, Georgia and Vanderbilt both average 72.9 points per game.

The contrast between the two teams is in the details.

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Vandy, as seems a Vandy tradition, maintains a lofty

shooting percentage

of 50.1 percent, a seventh rank nationally. Georgia shoots a very good 45.4 percent, ranking 83 nationally. Vandy also shoots 39.1 percent on three-point attempts to Georgia’s 31.7 percent. The Dawgs take nearly two more shots from the field and have 43 more free throw attempts on the year.

Defensively, the Dawgs and ’Dores are both stingy – Georgia ranks 44 nationally in field goal percentage, Vandy 49. Georgia has a 2.5 steal per game statistical edge on Vandy and a national ranking 200 spots better, but that’s about it for obvious Dawg advantages.

The truth is much simpler for this Bulldog team than the statistics:  this veteran Bulldog team must play like a veteran team.

On Wednesday night, Georgia must play strong in the paint, care for the ball out front and be aware of time, score, and opponent personnel. Georgia must play with poise and purpose. For eight minutes, the Bulldogs checked off the list against LSU and played like a veteran club. It was almost enough – a mere one more minute would have made the Dawgs winners.

Date: 1/14/2015

Tipoff Time: 9:00 PM EST

Venue: Memorial Gym, Nashville, TN

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


Coach: Kevin Stallings has been Vanderbilt head coach for 15 seasons. He has seven 20-win seasons, all in the last 11 years, and is the all-time leader in Vandy 20-win seasons, surpassing the legendary Roy Skinner, who had six. He is the SEC 2007 and 2010 Coach of the Year, only the third coach in Vanderbilt history to win two of the awards. Stallings gained his 400th career win in the quarterfinals of the 2013 SEC Tournament against Kentucky, and has 292 wins as Vanderbilt head coach.

Last year: A struggling Vandy team defeated Georgia last year 59 to 54 in the Stegeman Coliseum. The Commodores were led by the now all departed Rod Odum with 16 points, Dai-Jon Parker with 15 points and Kyle Fuller with 13 points.

This year: Coach Stallings restocked his roster with an arsenal of big-time shooters. New faces include guards freshman Shelton Mitchell (6’2″ 186), freshman Riley LaChance(6’2″ 194) , and freshman Wade Baldwin IV (6’3″ 195), and wings freshman Matthew Fisher-Davis (6’5″ 173) and freshman Jeff Roberson (6’6″ 206).

Vandy gets 34 points a night out of the two post positions led by leading scorer sophomore Damian Jones (6’10” 248) with 16 points and seven rebounds per game and senior James Siakam (6’7″ 225) with 10 points and six rebounds per game.

At the same time, four Vandy players shoot with over 40 percent success from beyond the 3-point arc – sophomore Luke Kornet (7’0″ 240)and the freshmen LaChance, Baldwin, and Fisher-Davis. For opponents, the result is the classic basketball inside-outside defensive conundrum.

Georgia enters the contest handicapped by injuries to Juwan Parker and Kenny Paul Geno. The starting lineup will likely have a new look with war horses Marcus Thornton, Nemi Djurisic, Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann joined by Cameron Forte.

Forte played well on both ends of the court against LSU, contributing 10 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes of action.

Starters for Vanderbilt will be Roberson, Siakam, Jones, Mitchell, and LaChance.

Jan 6, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores forward Luke Kornet (3) dunks against the Auburn Tigers during the second half at Memorial Gym. The Commodores beat the Tigers 64-52. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

For Georgia, the plan is well rehearsed. On offense, get to the free throw line – where the Dawgs rank 42 nationally in attempts – and saddle the Commodores with fouls, disrupting Vandy’s offensive plan. On defense, blunt the youthful Vanderbilt front line with veterans Marcus Thornton and Nemi Djurisic and the talented new comer Yante Maten.

Meanwhile, the Dawg guards must hold the fort against Vandy perimeter players, four of which shoot with over 40 percent success from beyond the 3-point arc – freshman Mathew Fischer Davis, sophomore Luke Kornet, freshman Riley Chance, and freshman Wade Baldwin.

The Bulldog big men did their part against an LSU front line more talented than Vanderbilt’s. But the Bulldogs will face the best backcourt shooters among opponents this year. Expect Thornton, Djurisic and Maten to do what they have done all year and out play the Vandy front line.

But if the Commodores remain unguarded to play horse from behind the 3- point arc and Georgia turns the ball over with the regularity seen in Baton Rouge, this game will be over early.

Georgia should beat this Vandy team.

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