Georgia Basketball Game Notes
Georgia (2-0) vs. Jacksonville (3-0)
Friday, December 5, at 7:00 p.m. ET
Stegeman Coliseum (10,523) in Athens, Ga.
Series History: UGA leads, 9-0
Last Meeting: UGA, 68-62, on Nov. 9, 2012
Watch: SEC Network (Tom Hart, play-by-play; Daymeon Fishback, analyst)
Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network Flagship: WSB AM 750 Atlanta; XM: 190; Internet: 961 (Scott Howard, play-by-play; Chuck Dowdle, analyst; Adam Gillespie, producer)
The Starting Five
• Tye Fagan became the 28th UGA Bulldog to earn SEC Player of the Week honors (a combined 38 times) since the award’s inception in 1985.
• Sahvir Wheeler is the first UGA player to record back-to-back double-digit assist tallies since at least 1979...we’re still going back searching for another instance.
• Versus FAMU, T. Fagan & S. Wheeler became the first Dogs to have double-doubles in the same game since N. Claxton and D. Ogbeide vs. S.C. on 3/9/19.
• UGA’s roster features eight newcomers with representative in every class – two freshmen, a sophomore, two juniors and a trio of graduate transfers.
• Six different Bulldogs combined to win a total of nine state championship at their high schools – Brown, Fagan (2), Horne (2), Taylor, Walton and Wheeler (2).
The Opening Tip
Georgia hosts Jacksonville on Friday evening in the second of three outings in a six-day span.
That comes following a 263-day gap between March 11 – when Georgia played its final game of the 2019-20 season – and Nov. 29 – when the Bulldogs opened their 2020-21 campaign.
The Bulldogs were ready to return to action on Nov. 25; however, the carpet was pulled out from beneath them just three hours before tipoff when COVID issues within the Columbus State traveling party caused the cancellation of their opener.
That cancellation has caused a ripple effect on the Georgia schedule, turning an excessively long period between contests into a rapid succession of outings.
On Monday afternoon at 12:24, the Bulldogs announced they would take on North Georgia 54 and a half hours later in a make-up effort to the season opener. The addition of that contest lined up games against Nighthawks, Dolphins and Grizzlies in a span of just less than a week. Following the Jacksonville game, Georgia will host Montana next Tuesday.
“It’s not optimal, but for this year, it’s very probable,” Tom Crean said following the North Georgia contest. “I told the guys, we may get to a situation where we don’t have three games in three weeks, let alone three games in one week. Who knows what way this season is going to go. Anything you do is getting you ready for what’s coming. It just so happens that this is the way it’s going to be.”
Keeping An Eye On…Entering Tonight’s Game:
Andrew Garcia is...
• 185 points from 1,000 for his career
• 81 rebounds for 500 for his career
Series History With The Dolphins
Georgia owns a perfect 9-0 record all-time versus Jacksonville, including six victories in Athens.
Most recently on Nov. 9, 2012, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope began what became an SEC Player of the Year campaign by scoring 17 points to lead Georgia in a 68-62 win over the Dolphins. That season opener also featured a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds from Nemi Djurisic.
The series between UGA and JU began with a two-for-one contract spanning the 1965-66 through 1967-68 seasons. The teams met on a home-and-home basis during the late-80s and again in the mid-90s. The last two matchups were in 2006-07 and the aforementioned outing to open the 2012-13 season.
The Dolphins arrive in Athens with a 3-0 record on the season, with home victories over Coastal Georgia, Southern Miss and Presbyterian.
Four Jacksonville players are averaging double digits – Dontarius James at 17.7 ppg, Tyreese Davis and Diante Wood both at 14.3 ppg and Bryce Workman at 10.7 ppg.
The Dolphins are shooting an eye-catching 46.2 percent from 3-point range, connecting on 30-of-65 attempts from behind the arc. James, Wood and Trey Sides are doing most of that damage. They account for 83.3 percent of Jacksonville’s made 3-pointers while shooting a sizzling 58.1 percent (25-of-43) from 22-feet and 1 3/4-inches and beyond.
The Jacksonville roster is comprised of eight returnees and seven newcomers.
Wood is the leading returning scorer from a year ago when he averaged 6.6 ppg, while Mo Arnold, Sides and Workman all drew starting nods at some point during the 2019-20 campaign. Davis, who was an Atlantic Sun All-Freshman honoree in 2018-19, also returns after sitting out last season with a knee injury.
New Faces In New Places
Georgia’s roster features eight first-year Bulldogs, while Jacksonville brings seven new Dolphins to Athens.
Georgia’s octet newcomers features a representative of every class – freshmen K.D. Johnson and Josh Taylor, sophomore Tyron McMillan, juniors Jonathan Ned and Mikal Starks; and graduate transfer seniors Andrew Garcia, P.J. Horne and Justin Kier.
Jacksonville’s septet of newcomers includes four freshman, a junior college transfer and two Division I transfers. James, who played two seasons at Xavier before joining Jacksonville, headlines the new batch of Dolphins.
Wheeler Of To Historic Start
Quick...when was the last time a 5-10 player led the SEC in double-doubles? The answer: Dec. 3, 2020.
Sahvir Wheeler sat atop the SEC’s leaders in double-doubles after notching points-assists efforts in Georgia’s first two games. He posted 12 points and 12 boards against Florida A&M and followed that with 17 points and 10 passes-to-points versus North Georgia.
Quick...when was the last time a Bulldog recorded double-figure assist tallies in consecutive games? The answer: we don’t know.
As of lunchtime Thursday, research to the 1979-80 campaign – Hugh Durham’s first in Athens – found no such occurrence.
A couple of close calls include: Donald Hartry doing so in a four-game span in 1986-87, Rashad Wright over a five-game stretch over the end of the 2001-02 and start of the 2002-03 seasons and G.G. Smith over a six-game time frame during the 1998-99 campaign.
We’re still digging, but the best guess if it happened would be in the early-70s when Gino Gianfrancesco set three of the top-four single-game efforts ever by a Bulldog.
Wheeler’s 12 assists against FAMU equaled the fourth-best single-game assist tally in 116 seasons of Georgia Basketball. It also was the most by a Bulldog in more than two decades...since G.G. Smith also had a dozen assists against Vanderbilt on Jan. 3, 1999.
Fagan Named SEC POTW
Tye Fagan was named the SEC Player of the Week on Monday by the league office in Birmingham, Ala., a day after the best outing of his collegiate career against Florida A&M.
Fagan posted career-high tallies of 21 points and 10 rebounds en route to his first career double-double. He connected on 9-of-10 shots from the field against the Rattlers and played a major role in creating distance on the scoreboard. Fagan scored eight points in a span of 76 seconds as Georgia expanded a two-point lead (49-47) to 10 (59-49).
“I don’t take credit for that,” Fagan said when asked about his performance after the game. “A lot of that has to do with Sahvir (Wheeler). He is a great ball-handler, and he finds guys. I’m pretty sure he had 12 assists, so that is what I mean how he found guys. I give a lot of credit to my teammates and coaches to put me in the right places.”
Fagan’s previous highs were 15 points and six rebounds. For his career, Fagan has now recorded four double-digit scoring outputs. In those games, he has connected on an almost unfathomable 83.9 percent (26-of-31) of his field goal attempts.
Fagan is the 28th different Bulldog to be named SEC Player of the Week since the award’s inception in 1985. Those players have combined to earn 38 POTW certificates.
The Nomination Wasn’t Automatic
The decision to nominate Fagan for SEC Player of the Week required some thought.
Graduate transfer Andrew Garcia also had an outstanding – and efficient – game against the Rattlers. The Bergenfield, N.J., native scored a game-high 22 points in just 23 minutes of action in his Bulldog debut.
Garcia connected on 6-of-8 shots from the field and converted on 10-of-11 trips to the free-throw line in his first outing for UGA.
Hoops Scheduling 2020 Style
It took four opponents for Georgia to play its first two games of the season.
As of last Monday, Nov. 23, UGA was scheduled to play Gardner-Webb on Nov. 29. The decision was made to cancel that contest that day after consultation with UGA Athletic Association medical personnel due to COVID-19 issues within the GWU roster.
About 24 hours later, Georgia announced that Florida A&M would replace Gardner-Webb on the 29th.
During a Zoom session with media on Tuesday, head coach Tom Crean said: “Well in a nut shell, this came up yesterday morning and we already had some ideas of potential replacements for the first couple of weeks so we really started with that. That becomes the most important thing...some were available, most weren’t available to be honest with you, but Florida A&M was the one that had the most opportunity to say yes and the best opportunity to say yes, in the shortest amount of time, and the shortest distance involved.
“It’s a surreal experience all around, and you just have to be able to adjust,” Crean continued. “You have to be flexible. You have to plan ahead. I give (Assistant Athletics Director) John Bateman and (Director of Player Development) Brian Fish a lot of credit with this and the work they did to put this together. In all likelihood, we’ll have to do it again. It’s just a part of it right now.”
Less than 24 hours after that, Crean’s comments seemed prophetic when Wednesday’s season opener against Columbus State was canceled just hours before it was slated to tip off. That outing was scrapped when COVID-19 tests returned positive results within the Cougars’ traveling party.
On Nov. 30 – about 54-and-a-half hours before tipoff – the Columbus State game was replaced by the Dec. 2 North Georgia contest.
Bulldogs In Season Openers
Georgia has compiled an 83-33 record in opening contests of the Bulldogs’ 116 seasons of basketball. That includes an even more impressive 37-6 mark in openers at Stegeman Coliseum.
Georgia’s most significant win in an opener at the Coliseum also was its first. In the Bulldogs’ initial opener in their current arena on Dec. 3 1964, UGA bested No. 13 North Carolina, 64-61.
The Bulldogs are 3-0 in openers under current head coach Tom Crean.
Crean Strong In Season Openers
Tom Crean is 20-1 all-time in season openers as a head coach. Crean was 8-1 in initial outings at Marquette from 1999-2008, was a perfect 9-0 in openers at Indiana from 2008-17 and has won all three of his first games in three seasons with the Bulldogs.
The biggest season-opening victory for a Crean-coached team was four years ago when the No. 11-ranked Hoosiers defeated No. 3 Kansas, 103-99, in overtime at the Armed Forces Challenge in Honolulu.
The Hoosiers raced to an 8-1 start that season – including a second signature victory in November over eventual 2017 NCAA Champion North Carolina – before injuries decimated Indiana’s roster.
Latest Opener In A While
Last season, the Bulldogs christened their season on Nov. 5, the earliest opening contest ever in Georgia’s 115 seasons of basketball. The previous date for an initial outing was when UGA began the 2013-14 campaign on Nov. 8 with a 72-52 win over Wofford.
With the 2020-21 campaign delayed due to COVID-19, the Bulldogs’ Nov. 29 date against Florida A&M was their latest opener in nearly three decades.
Georgia began the 1992-93 season on Dec. 1, 1992 with a trip to Allen Fieldhouse to face No. 3 Kansas, with the Jayhawks securing a 76-65 win.
That contest was the first of a “home-and-home” series between UGA and KU. The quote marks are to emphasize that Kansas’ return on that contract was not to Athens. Georgia head coach Hugh Durham ventured to Lawrence and then had the Jayhawks return game in Atlanta for the first-ever basketball event at now-demolished Georgia Dome. That UGA-KU outing was part of the Kuppenheimer Classic, which also featured Georgia Tech hosting Louisville.
Dogs’ Roster Features Winners
Georgia’s roster features six Bulldogs who won high school state championships.
Christian Brown, Tye Fagan, P.J. Horne, Josh Taylor, Jaykwon Walton and Sahvir Wheeler. In fact, Fagan, Horne and Wheeler all won a pair of state titles, giving that sextet a combined nine championship rings.
Top-Ranked JUCOs Join Dogs
Each of Georgia’s three junior college recruits was ranked among the top-15 prospects nationally by 247Sports.com. Mikal Starks was listed at No. 9, Tyron McMillan was tabbed No. 11 and Jonathan Ned came in at No. 15.
Ned and Starks come from dramatically different hometowns but the same junior college – Eastern Florida State. Ned is from Northern California, while Starks hails from South Florida. They helped EFSC’s Titans win 55 games over two seasons and reach the “Elite Eight” round of the 2019 NJCAA Tournament.
McMillan, who played AAU basketball with Sahvir Wheeler, earned All-Region honors in his one season at Kilgore College in Texas.
A Summer Unlike Any Other
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the Bulldogs’ season to end prematurely on March 12 and began a period where Tom Crean was away from on-court coaching for more than four months.
Georgia returned to workouts on July 20 as the Bulldogs’ staff began meshing together six returnees and eight newcomers.
“The only guy will a full year of college basketball with us in the program is Tye Fagan,” Crean said. “That’s tough. That’s really tough because the kids who are sophomores didn’t get the full spring. And when the three grad transfers and Tyron McMillan got to campus, that was the first time we’d personally met them and talked to them not on phone, FaceTime or zoom.
“There was nothing normal about this summer,” Crean added. “There was nothing even remotely close to normal as to how you would build your team.”
Edwards Drafted No. 1 Overall
Anthony Edwards was chosen by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft on Nov. 18. Edwards became the Bulldogs’ highest draft pick ever, topping Dominique Wilkins, who was selected No. 3 overall in 1982.
“This is an incredibly special night for an incredibly special young man,” head coach Tom Crean said. “I know the time and the effort he’s put into getting to this point. He’s earned it. He works extremely hard. He’s dedicated to getting better.”
Edwards is the Bulldogs’ 39th NBA Draft pick and the eighth first-rounder. He was the first lottery pick since Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (No. 8 overall) in 2013.
“This is a big-time moment for this program,” Crean said. “When you’re trying to build on what others have done here before, you’ve got to have moments that help establish what you want your program to be. I think this is something that everyone who has ever been a part of Georgia Basketball can be proud of. It also shows that you can come to Georgia, and in Anthony’s case come to Georgia and stay close to home, and you can achieve all of your dreams. That’s really, really important for us.”
Edwards was the nation’s top-scoring freshman last season, averaging 19.1 ppg. He scored 610 points, the 10th-most ever by an SEC freshman and the seventh-highest effort by a Bulldog in a single season.
Edwards was named SEC Freshman of the Year by both league coaches and the Associated Press and was tabbed SEC Freshman of the Week a school-record four times.
Edwards became the SEC’s sixth all-time overall No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft – and the fifth since 2010. The league’s top picks include Shaquille O’Neal (LSU) to Orlando in 1992, John Wall (Kentucky) to Washington in 2010, Anthony Davis (Kentucky) to New Orleans in 2012, Karl Anthony-Towns (Kentucky) to Minnesota in 2015, Ben Simmons (LSU) to Philadelphia in 2016 and Edwards in 2020.
A Good Year for Drafted Dogs
Anthony Edwards’ selection in the NBA Draft continued a strong year for Georgia Bulldogs in professional drafts.
Offensive tackle Andrew Thomas was the No. 4 overall pick in the NFL Draft by the New York Giants. Pitcher Emerson Hancock was the No. 6 selection in the first round of the MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners.
With that, Georgia became just the fifth school ever to have top-10 picks in the three major sports drafts in the same year.
And While We’re Talking Pros...
The 2020 year hasn’t had very many highlights overall, but three former Georgia Bulldogs certainly have.
Mecole Hardman capped a Pro Bowl rookie season by helping the Kansas City Chiefs win Super Bowl LIV (that’s 54 for the commoners) in February.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had an outstanding run in the NBA Playoffs to help the L.A. Lakers capture their championship. KCP started all 21 games of the Lakers’ run through the Playoffs. He averaged 10.7 points per game in the postseason, largely due to connecting on 45 3-pointers. That tally is the second-most ever by a Laker during the Playoffs, trailing only Kobe Bryant’s 49 in 2009-10.
In October, pitcher Alex Wood pitched two perfect innings with three strikeouts for the Los Angeles Dodgers in their decisive win over Tampa Bay in game 6 of the World Series.
With that, Georgia became the only school in the nation with former players who won NFL, NBA and MLB championship rings during 2020.
Wheeler Sets Assist Record
Sahvir Wheeler wrapped up his freshman season by equaling his career high with eight assists against Ole Miss at the 2020 SEC Tournament. In the process, he also broke Georgia’s freshman assists record.
Wheeler distributed 139 passes-to-points last season, breaking the previous mark by Litterial Green as outlined below.
Wheeler’s tally also equaled Willie Anderson for the 14th-most ever by a Bulldog in a single season.
UGA Freshman Assist Leaders
Rk. Player Season Tot.
1. Sahvir Wheeler 2019-20 139
2. Litterial Green 1988-89 133
3. Dustin Ware 2008-09 108
4. Moses White 1999-00 105
5. Rashad Wright 2000-01 103
Crean Impressed With Teamwork
Tom Crean has been impressed with the ability his current roster has shown to form a bond during the summer and fall. Of the Bulldogs’ 14 players, eight are newcomers – two freshmen, three junior college transfers and three graduate transfers.
“I like their camaraderie,” Crean said this summer. “I like their spirit. We’ve worked very hard. There’s guys who are in the gym at different times, whether it’s later at night or early in the morning. There are guys who are very, very hungry.
“In addition to all that, they’ve done a good job in the weight room,” Crean continued. “They’ve done a good job when we worked out outside. They’ve pushed each other. They’ve competed. There is a spirit about them, and they’re improving. A lot of new guys are learning to come together in a very, very different situation, and that’s what we’ve focused on, bridging that every day.”
Bulldogs Speak Out On Issues
In addition to the pandemic, social issues dominated the landscape for much of the summer. Several Georgia basketball players, led by Tye Fagan and Sahvir Wheeler, chose to utilize their platform and voice to speak toward needed changes to create a better and more respectful society in general.
Fagan took part in a march in Thomaston, Ga., where he led Upson-Lee High School to back-to-back state titles in 2017 and 2018.
“It’s bigger than basketball, it’s bigger than me,” Fagan said. “A lot of people have lost their lives, a lot of people are upset. A lot of my people are upset and they feel a lot of different ways. I can’t blame them because I feel the same way, seeing guys suffer from police brutality or racism or bigotry or whatever you want to call it. Black people have been suffering a lot over the past few months. It’s been going on forever but especially over the past few months.”
Wheeler discussed a wide variety of topics in an interview with DawgNation.com.
“One of the most important things is this is a time when the country has to pivot, and it has put a magnifying glass on our actions, our deeds and our approach with others in relationships in general,” Wheeler said. “It has come to question ourselves: What are we willing to tolerate? What is the catalyst of change? How are we looking upon other people from different walks of life, and how we can take a step forward in progression so everyone can be equal?”
Bulldogs Better In Tight Games
Georgia was 5-3 in contests decided by four points or less last season, with tight wins over Georgia Tech (72-68), Chaminade (80-77), SMU (87-85), No. 9 Memphis (65-62) and Vanderbilt (80-78) and close setbacks against Missouri (72-69), Alabama (105-102) and South Carolina (94-90 in OT).
That was a huge difference from 2018-19 when UGA was 0-6 in such outings, with all six setbacks to NCAA Tournament teams.
Ronnie Hogue To Be Honored
Ronnie Hogue, the first Black men’s basketball scholarship student-athlete at the University of Georgia, will be honored with a commemorative sticker on the Stegeman Coliseum basket supports during the 2020-21 season. Hogue passed away in Setpember at the age of 69.
A native of Washington, D.C., Hogue arrived in Athens in the fall of 1969 and became one of the best players of his time, or any other era of Bulldog basketball.
Two years before freshmen became eligible under NCAA rules, Hogue averaged 19.1 points per game on UGA’s freshman squad. He burst upon the scene the following year when, playing largely out of position as a forward, he averaged 16.2 points per game and was named to the SEC’s All-Sophomore team.
The following year, 1972, was a breakout season for Hogue as he upped his scoring average to 20.5 points per game. In the season’s fifth game, on December 20, 1971, he exploded for a career-high 46 points against LSU, the most ever by a Bulldog in Stegeman Coliseum and second-highest single-game tally in school history. Perhaps more impressive than the scoring total was the fact that Hogue connected on 20-of-23 shots from the floor en route to that output. Hogue was named first-team All-SEC by league coaches that season while also garnering second-team honors from the AP and UPI. As a senior, Hogue averaged 16.5 points per game.
Hogue finished his Georgia career with 1,367 points in just three seasons. At the time, that ranked second among UGA’s all-time scoring leaders.
Hogue was drafted by the Washington Bullets in the seventh round of the 1973 NBA Draft.