Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Know the Mocs Opponents: Georgia

The Mocs seventh out of conference D1 opponent will be the most anticipated home game of the year. Georgia comes to McKenzie Arena to take on the Mocs. While Georgia is not one of the top names in the country in college basketball, they certainly should draw a crowd, particularly if the Mocs are off to a good start. This game is on a Tuesday night in early December- not exactly an ideal time to get a big crowd. But knowing how Coach Wade has energized the community to come out in the past, my bet is that a pretty good crowd shows up for a Tuesday in December.

Georgia finished second in the SEC a year ago, though they missed the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs struggled out of conference, going 8-8 in non-SEC regular season games. The Bulldogs return a lot of players off of last year's team and look to build on it this year. They will need to perform well out of conference this year, because there are wins for the taking in the SEC. Another 12-6 SEC season needs to be enough to get them into the NCAA Tournament this time around. Georgia will be coming off the Preseason NIT. They will have just wrapped up playing Gonzaga and either Minnesota or St. John's in New York. They will also have played Georgia Tech. That makes for a difficult start to their schedule. Will Georgia be prepared for this one after playing in Madison Square Garden? They may be a little bit emotionally down.

Georgia will be relying on the backcourt. Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines are juniors starting at the guard spots. Mann is 6-5 and scored13.9 points per game and 4.2 rebounds per contest, not to mention 2.9 assists. Gaines is 6-3 averaged 13.0 points per game and shot 37.5% from three point range. This is a talented set in the backcourt that will present problems for lots of teams. They are not small, and they score relatively easily.

Marcus Thornton is 6-8 and provided an interior defensive presence. He is athletic and very talented. He averaged 6.1 rebounds per contest a year ago. He also scored 8.3 points per game. Thornton is the most important part of the Bulldogs interior game. Yante Maten is a freshman who could have signed with Indiana or Michigan State, but chose Georgia. He could certainly step in immediately and be a major impact.

The Mocs actually can come close to matching Georgia's size but can't match the Bulldogs athleticism. Georgia has solid guards and may be able to handle the Mocs pressure defense. Still, if the Mocs have come together at that point and can start playing well together, a home date with Georgia could have McKenzie Arena rocking. Can the Mocs contend? Sure can. This will be one of the biggest games for the Mocs this year. Big night. Seems like a game the Mocs pull the upset in, but we'll all know a lot more after watching them play in the Preseason NIT.

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