Georgia Basketball to face Virginia in Legends Classic

Roman Legends Classic presented by Old Trapper

Georgia (2-2) vs. Virginia (2-2)

Date: Monday, November 22, 2021

Tipoff: 7:00 p.m. ET

Location:Prudential Center (18,711) in Newark, N.J.

Watch: ESNPU (Kevin Brown, pbp; Jon Crispin, analyst)

Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network – 960 the Ref-AM, 103.7-FM (Scott Howard, play-by-play; Chuck Dowdle, analyst; Adam Gillespie, producer)

The Starting 5…

• Tom Crean looks for his 400th career victory when UGA faces UVA in the Legends Classic on Monday.

• UGA’s Jabri Abdur-Rahim is from South Orange, N.J., and was the 2019 N.J. Player of the Year at Blair Academy.

• Through Saturday’s games, Braelin Bridges’ 66.7 FG percentage led the SEC and ranked No. 31 nationally.

• Aaron Cook’s 22-point outburst against S.C. State last Tuesday pushed him over 1,000 career points.

• UGA’s seven first-year transfers combined to score 4,782 points at their previous schools.

The Opening Tip

Georgia travels to the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., to take part in the Roman Legends Classic presented by Old Trapper on Monday and Tuesday. The Bulldogs will face Virginia in the opening round before taking on either Northwestern or Providence on Tuesday.

Georgia is appearing in the Legends Classic for the second time. In 2012, the Bulldogs lost four contests in the event, falling to Youngstown State, Southern Miss, No. 1 Indiana and No. 11 UCLA.

Interestingly, the top-ranked Hoosiers were then coached by Tom Crean. After dispatching Georgia, 66-53, Crean earned his 250th career victory with Indiana’s 82-72 win over Georgetown in the Legends Classic’s championship game.

Georgia was led by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who was a sophomore and went on to earn 2013 SEC Player of the Year accolades before declaring for the NBA Draft and being selected with the No. 8 overall pick by the Detroit Pistons that year.

Keeping An Eye On . . . Entering Tonight’s Game:

Tom Crean is...

• 1 victory shy of his 400th career win

Series History With The Field

Georgia sports a 4-3 lead in its all-time series with Virginia, with most of those meetings coming way back in the 1920s and 1930s.

The Bulldogs have never played Northwestern or Providence prior to the Legends Classic.

The Bulldogs and Cavaliers first faced of during the 1925-26 season and played five times over eight seasons.

Georgia last met Virginia on Christmas Eve 1987 in the semifinals of the Chaminade Classic. The Cavaliers rolled to an 87-54 victory despite an 18-point performance from Willie Anderson.

Scouting The Cavaliers

Virginia, which was ranked No. 25 in the preseason editions of both the AP and Coaches polls, is 2-2 on the young season. The Cavaliers were picked to finish fourth in the ACC this season.

Jayden Gardner sports team-best averages of 13.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, while Armaan Franklin also is scoring at a double-digit pace of 11.5 points per game.

Last Time Out

Georgia’s five-game winning streak over arch-rival Georgia Tech ended last Friday with the Yellow Jackets’ 88-78 victory at Stegeman Coliseum.

The Bulldogs led 73-71 with 4:34 remaining in the contest before Tech surged. That was the Jackets first win over Georgia since the season opener of the 2014-15 season on Nov. 14, 2014, a span of 2,562 days. The five-game stretch of success matched the Bulldogs’ second-longest over Tech in 196 all-time meetings.

Michael DeVoe and Jordan Usher combined to score 58 of Tech’s 88 points while connecting on 23-of-32 (71.9 percent) of their shots from the floor.

Aaron Cook led the Bulldogs with 18 points and six assists, while fellow “super senior” Jailyn Ingram chipped in 17 points and a team-high six rebounds.

A Homecoming For Jabri

Georgia’s Jabri Abdur-Rahim is from South Orange, N.J., and played his high school basketball at Blair Academy about an hour away from the Prudential Center...depending on traffic.

Abdur-Rahim was named the 2019 Gatorade New Jersey Player of the Year after leading Blair’s Buccaneers to the Prep A state title. A two-time high school All-American, he missed all but two games of his senior season due to a foot injury. Abdur-Rahim was a consensus top-50 prospect in the Class of 2020, including being listed at No. 38 by ESPN.com.

Abdur-Rahim will be facing his former team on Monday. He played at Virginia as a freshman before transferring to Georgia in the offseason.

Jabri’s uncle, Amir, was an assistant coach on the Georgia staff during Tom Crean’s first season in Athens before being named head coach at Kennesaw State.

‘Abdur-Rahim is coming off his best outing as a collegiate player, scoring 10 points against Georgia Tech.

Crean Closing In On 400 Wins

Georgia head coach Tom Crean is now just one win shy of his 400th career victory. He compiled 397 W’s in his first 21 campaigns as a collegiate head coach, an impressive average of 18.9 wins.

Prior to arriving in Athens, Crean was 190-96 in nine seasons Marquette’s coach from 1998-2008 and the recorded a 166-135 mark in nine campaigns at Indiana between 2008-17.

Tom Crean’s Milestone Wins

No. 1 – Nov. 20, 1999 – Marquette defeats Chicago State, 62-43, in Tom Crean’s first game as a collegiate head coach.

No. 100 – March 6, 2004 – Freshman Dameon Mason’s three-point play with eight-tenths of a second left lifts Marquette over No. 25 Louisville, 81-80.

No. 200 – Dec. 8, 2009 – Indiana knocks off Pittsburgh, 74-64, in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

No. 250 – Nov. 20, 2012 – A day after beating Georgia, 66-53, in the first round, IU tops Georgetown, 82-72, to win the Progressive Legends Classic at Barclays Center.

No. 300 – Dec. 20, 2014 – Indiana tops No. 23 Butler, 82-73, as Yogi Ferrell became IU’s 48th 1,000-point scorer.

UVA Ad Has UGA Hoops Roots

Virginia Director of Athletics Dr. Carla Williams was a standout guard at Georgia from 1985-89, playing on teams that won the 1986 SEC Championship and reached three NCAA “Sweet 16s”.

The former Carla Green was a three-year starter for the Lady Bulldogs from 1986-89 and finished her career with 1,115 points, 425 assists and 285 steals. Those tallies ranked No. 10, No. 2 and No. 3 among Georgia’s career leaders at the completion of her career.

Williams was then an assistant coach for the Lady Bulldogs before moving into administration, with stints at Florida State and Vanderbilt before returning to Athens. She was UGA’s Deputy Director of Athletics before being named Virginia’s AD in 2017.

Experience Has Traveled

The phrase “defense travels” is a well-known sports phrase.

For Georgia, “experience has traveled” may become a more appropriate catch phrase for 2021-22.

Georgia’s lineup this season is anchored by five Division I transfers, sixth-year “super seniors” Aaron Cook and Jailyn Ingram, graduate transfer seniors Noah Baumann and Braelen Bridges and sophomore Jabri Abdur-Rahim.

That quintet of Bulldogs has accounted for 80 percent of Georgia’s starts to date as well as the large majority of its production in virtually every statistic as outlined below.

D-I Transfer Contributions

Stat Team D-I Ts Pct.

Minutes 800 490 61.3

Scoring 280 200 71.4

Rebounds 122 80 65.6

Assists 63 51 81.0

Blocks 10 4 40.0

Steals 29 15 51.7

Shooting His Shot

Noah Baumann had an eventual Sunday, November 14. The graduate transfer from Southern Cal proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Mackenzie Moore, beside Lake Herrick at the intramural fields on the UGA campus.

Baumann and Moore have known each other since they were 7th graders at Akimel (pronounced ah-kee-mull) Middle School and started dating during their senior year at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix.

They have endured a long-distance relationship for the past four years.

Moore was a four-year starter on the Miami (Ohio) softball team, batting .279 with seven homers and 66 RBI. She was named second-team All-MAC as a senior, leading the RedHawks to a 46-10 finish, the MAC Championship and an NCAA Tournament bid.

Within The Win Streak Over GT

The Bulldogs’ five-game winning streak over Georgia Tech marked only the fifth time in 196 meetings that Georgia captured five consecutive victories over the Yellow Jackets.

The Bulldogs’ longest winning streak in the series covers seven games twice, in spans from 1909-21 and 1980-84. Georgia also won five straight between from 1929-31 and 1939-41.

No. 3 At No. 3 on #SCTop10

Kario Oquendo delivered a trio of breakaway dunks against South Carolina State that wowed the crowd.

The third on the night, a steal followed by a windmill finish, earned its way onto the opening of ESPN’s SportsCenter and the No. 3 spot on the Nov. 16 edition of the show’s top-10 plays.

Although they totally butchered his name on SportsCenter, you can see the dunk at: gado.gs/kariosctop10.

Cook Tops Millennium Mark

Aaron Cook blew past the 1,000-point career scoring mark on Nov. 16 against South Carolina State.

The “super senior” from St. Louis was eight points shy of that plateau entering the game. He inched past the milestone in the first half on a jumper with 2:21 left in the period. Cook scored 13 points following the intermission to come within three points of his career high of 25 versus Indiana State on Jan. 24, 2018.

Cook scored 845 points in 103 games played at Southern Illinois from 2016-20. He competed for four seasons at SIU, including a redshirt campaign in 2019-20 due to a broken hand.

Cook transferred to Gonzaga and played in 30 of 32 contests for the Bulldogs en route to their NCAA runner-up finish last season. He scored 127 points in during the 2020-21 season.

Cook scored 10 points in each of his first two outings at UGA, pushing him to 992 prior to the S.C. State matchup.

Dalen, Kario Draw Attention

Kario Oquendo and Dalen Ridgnal have been ranked among the top junior college transfers expected to make the biggest marks at the Division-I level this season.

On August 25, bustingbrackets.com ranked the top-25 junior college players moving to the “high-major” level. Ridgnal was tabbed No. 2 on that ledger, while Oquendo was ranked No. 23.

On Nov. 1, college basketball guru Jon Rothstein tabbed his top-10 “JUCOs to watch,” an unranked ledger that also included Ridgnal.

Cook Among Most Experienced

Aaron Cook arrived in Athens having already participated in 133 games. Cook logged action in 103 contests in four seasons at Southern Illinois, including six in a 2019-20 redshirt campaign. He then played in 30 contests last season at Gonzaga.

Cook’s was the third-most experienced player – game wise – in Division I entering this season as outlined below.

As a point of reference for Georgia’s record for career games played is 133 contests by Marcus Thornton from 2011-15. Thornton’s tally covers five seasons, including a redshirt season with nine GPs.

In addition, Jailyn Cook ranked among D-I’s top-50 players in career outings entering 2021-22, having played in 122 contests at FAU prior to joining the Bulldogs.

D-I’s Career GPs Leaders

Rk. Player, School Games

1. Jordan Bohannon, Iowa 142

2. Chevez Goodwin, USC 138

3. Aaron Cook, Georgia 133

Garrison Brooks, Miss. St. 133

Jalen Coleman-Lands, Kansas 133

Justin Kier, Arizona 133

The Hoops Version of The CFP

Anyone who knows anything about college athletics is well aware that Georgia and Cincinnati, which met on the hardwood on Nov. 13, are undefeated in football.

In fact, there were only four FBS football programs that entered last weekend with unblemished records.

In an almost unfathomable coincidence, the other two unbeatens – Oklahoma and UTSA – also played basketball against each the day before Bulldogs and the Bearcats did so.

Georgia In Season Openers

With their win over FIU, the Bulldogs improved to 84-33 in the opening contests of 117 seasons of basketball.

That tally includes an even more impressive 38-6 mark in openers contested at Stegeman Coliseum.

Georgia’s most significant win in an opener at the Coliseum also was its first. In the Bulldogs’ initial season opener in their current arena on Dec. 3 1964, Georgia bested No. 13 North Carolina, 64-61.

Welcoming A Slew Of Scoring

Of the 10 newcomers on the Bulldogs’ roster seven are transfers – five from the Division I level (Jabri Abdur-Rahim, Noah Baumann, Braelen Bridges, Aaron Cook and Jailyn Ingram) and a pair from the junior college ranks (Kario Oquendo and Dalen Ridgnal).

Those players arrived in Athens having already scored 4,782 points at their previous schools. That represents the largest addition of scoring by any Division I program for the 2021-22 season as outlined below.

In their previous stops, the D-I quintet of the group also logged 8813 minutes in 404 games played, while grabbing 1283 rebounds, dishing 643 assists, swatting 116 blocks and collecting 304 steals.

Top Scoring Influx’s In D-I hoops

Rk. School Players Points

1. Georgia 7 4782

2. Duquesne 5 4695

3. Florida 5 4144

4. Arkansas 6 4125

5. Penn State 7 5183

6. Washington St. 4 3785

7. SMU 4 3733

8. Kentucky 4 3538

9. Utah 6 3175

10. Arizona St. 3 3132

On The Flip Side...

While Georgia welcomed a huge influx of college scoring from its newcomers, the Bulldogs returned a minuscule portion of their scoring from last season.

P.J. Horne was Georgia’s only returning starter and top scorer back but was lost for the season after suffering a knee injury during preseason practices. The Tifton, Ga., native put up 222 points – 8.5 ppg – last season, largely due to connecting on a team-high 46 3-pointers.

“This is such a major blow to us because P.J. was playing so well and showing great leadership as our leading returning player, but more so because he is such a great person and one of the finest people I’ve ever coached,” head coach Tom Crean tweeted on Oct. 20. “He cares about his teammates deeply.”

With that, the four returning Bulldogs accounted for only 1110 of Georgia’s 2014 points a year ago, or 5.5 percent. Walk-on Jaxon Etter is the top returning point producer with 47 points.

Putting Up Points Under Crean

Georgia has certainly been keeping scoreboard operators busy since Tom Crean arrived in Athens in 2018.

The Bulldogs reached the 90-point plateau 15 times in 90 games during Crean’s first three seasons. That’s a relatively healthy 16.7 percent of the team’s total contests.

By comparison, Georgia scored 90 or more points just 15 times in 387 games before Crean’s arrival, or .038 percent of the outings in a span that dates back a dozen seasons to the 2006-07 campaign.

The big numbers by the Bulldogs aren’t just a single-game thing.

In three seasons under Crean, the Bulldogs have averaged two of their top-5 scoring outputs of the 2000s as outlined below.

Top Scoring Averages In 2000s

Rk. Season Points Games Avg.

1. 2002-03 2138 27 79.2

2. 2020-21 1944 25 77.8

3. 2001-02 2444 32 76.4

4. 2019-20 2428 32 75.9

5. 2006-07 2477 33 75.1

“B” Is For Basketball Player

You may notice on Georgia’s roster that the Bulldogs have gone away from listing traditional positions – guard, forward and center. All 15 players are now simply listed as “B” for “Basketball Player.”

Tom Crean is a proponent for “position-less basketball.”

“That’s what they are,” Crean said. “It’s not valid to call them centers and power forwards and things like that as much with the way that we’re trying to play. They’re being trained as basketball players, every day... in the sense of how we train with the ball handling, the driving, the shooting – all those type of things. That’s big to me.”

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