By Andrew Clausen
- Georgia Tech and Georgia will meet for the 194th time on Dec. 19, the longest running series between the Yellow Jackets and any opponent. The Bulldogs snapped a four-game Tech winning streak in the series with a victory last December at McCamish Pavilion. The Jackets have won two of the last three meetings in Athens. This is the 11th in a series of previews of Tech’s non-conference opponents.
Location: Athens, Ga. Conference: Southeastern (SEC) Home arena: Stegeman Coliseum (10,523) 2016-17 Record: 19-15, 9-9 in the SEC (8th) Post-Season: Lost to Belmont in the First Round of NIT, 78-69 NCAA Postseason Appearances (Last): 12 (2015) All-time series record: 105-88, Georgia (last meeting in 2017) Head coach: Mark Fox (Ninth Season) Starters returning/lost: 4/1 Top scorer returning: Yante Maten (18.2) Top rebounder returning: Derek Ogbeide (6.1)
Quick preview for 2017-18
Mark Fox will guide a team composed of eight upperclassmen from being a middle-of-the-pack SEC team to a premier competitor in the conference, with Yante Maten and Derek Ogbeide capitalizing on their successful junior and sophomore campaigns, respectively. After finishing fourth in scoring in the conference last season, Maten was voted Co-SEC Preseason Player of the Year while Ogbeide led the team in rebounding as a sophomore with 6.1 boards per game.
Despite the return of two mainstays, UGA will need others to step up as well as the Bulldogs face a tough schedule as usual in their quest to reach the NCAA Tournament. In nonconference play, Georgia will have to contend with Marquette, Georgia Tech, Temple and Cal State Fullerton, as well as a possible contest against San Diego State in the Wooden Classic out in Fullerton, Calif. The road doesn’t get any easier in SEC play as UGA has home matchups against Arkansas and South Carolina while also having to take on Kentucky and Auburn on the road.
Quick recap of 2016-17
Despite an 8-4 record in non-conference, a .500 conference record dropped Georgia to eighth in the Southeastern Conference. With key wins over Vanderbilt, Texas and a one-point thriller over Tennessee, Mark Fox’ unit was able to put together enough momentum to enter the SEC Tournament strong. The Bulldogs hung on for a 59-57 victory in their first game before falling to eventual SEC champs Kentucky, 71-60.
UGA was led by the duo of senior J.J. Frazier and junior Yante Maten offensively. Frazier led the team in scoring with 18.8 points per contest, while Maten chipped in 18.2 points per game. Derek Ogbeide controlled the boards with 7.6 rebounds per game with Maten finishing second (6.8), while Frazier led the offense with a team-high 4.1 assists. Frazier was also third in the SEC in steals (1.9 per game).
Greatest Program Accomplishment
Nobody expected a 13-16 (4-12 SEC) to make any kind of real noise in the conference tournament, especially after the team went on a 2-12 run in league action earlier in the season. But the 2007-08 Georgia Bulldogs were able to not just make noise, they turned the tournament upside down.
The Bulldogs were able to take Ole Miss to overtime in the opening-round matchup and looked to be heading to a second extra period after free throws by the Rebels tied things up. Senior Dave Bliss had a different idea as he banked in a game-winner with 0.4 second left on the clock and UGA was headed to the second round where Kentucky awaited.
Due to a tornado that damaged the Georgia Dome, all SEC Tournament games were moved to Georgia Tech’s Alexander Memorial Coliseum. There, Georgia took Kentucky to overtime in the early afternoon before freshman Zac Swansey drilled a fadaway three-pointer with 1.4 seconds left to secure another miracle victory. And, thanks to the weather, the Bulldogs had to play again that night against Mississippi State where they won 64-60, becoming the first team since Kentucky in 1952 to win two conference tournament games in the same day.
Georgia toppled Arkansas in the finals to make the 2008 NCAA Tournament – the first-ever sixth seed to advance out of the SEC Tournament.
Greatest player in program history
A Naismith Hall of Famer and one of the greatest Atlanta Hawks in team history, Dominique Wilkins joined the Georgia Bulldogs in 1979 and immediately was an exciting player. Averaging 21.6 points per game over has career and earning the SEC’s Player of the Year award and SEC Tournament MVP in 1981, Wilkins still holds the program record for most points in a single-season (732). In 78 games played, he scored 1,688 points on .530 percent shooting as a Bulldog.
Wilkins left after his junior year and was selected third overall by the Utah Jazz in the 1982 NBA Draft. He was immediately traded to the Atlanta Hawks where he would go on to be nicknamed “The Human Highlight Film” because of his dunking ability. Wilkins led the Hawks to being one of the top teams in the East throughout the 1980s, most famously going toe-to-toe with archrival Larry Bird on the Boston Celtics in many playoff series. A nine-time All-Star and two-time NBA slam dunk champion, Wilkins finished with 26,668 points and 7,169 rebounds in his career, earning his No. 21 jersey a spot in the rafters in Atlanta.
Place to visit on campus or in the city
Affiliated with the University of Georgia and located just a few miles away, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia features more than 300 acres of flowers (when in season), plants and trees. With a tropical conservatory housing, featuring year-round tropical plants, to a medicinal garden that contains plants that are used to cure illnesses, it’s no surprise the Botanical Gardens were rated the seventh best in the country by USA Today. The Gardens also have pathways to walk and 5 miles of hiking trails.