College

Lady Bulldogs Play Host to Missouri

Georgia (13-8, 2-5 SEC) vs. Missouri (14-6, 3-4 SEC)

Thursday, Jan. 26 | 7 p.m. ET | Stegeman Coliseum | Athens, Ga.

TV: SEC Network + (Matt Stewart and Anne Marie Armstrong )

Radio: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network (Jeff Dantzler)

Storylines

» Georgia returns to Stegeman Coliseum to host the Missouri Tigers on Thursday. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. and will air on the SEC Network+.

» Georgia has won the last three meetings against Missouri, once in Athens and twice in Columbia.

» The Tigers rank third in the SEC in 3-pointers made, averaging 7.6 per game.  Missouri also ranks third in the conference  from the charity stripe, boasting a 73 percent free throw percentage.

» Brittney Smith has led Georgia through conference play with seven double-figure scoring games in her last eight contests. Smith averages a team-high 14.7 points per game against league foes, which ranks 12th in the SEC. Her 52.0 percent shooting performance against conference opponents ranks sixth in the league.

» Battles leads Georgia in scoring (13.7 ppg), assists (64) and steals (35). She was one of just 50 players named to the preseason Naismith National Player of the Year Watch List.

» Georgia ranks first in the SEC in turnover margin, with a +4.81 average, and second in steals, swiping 10.8 per game.

» Georgia has forced 20 or more opponent turnovers in 14 of 21 games and has forced double-digit miscues in every contest.

» Georgia picked up its 10th win on Dec. 17. It marked the program’s quickest 10th win in a season since the

2014-15 campaign.

» Georgia has held four teams (Jacksonville State, NC State, Mercer and San Diego State) to their season lows in scoring. Under Coach ABE’s leadership, her teams at UCF led the nation in scoring defense in each of the last two years.

Georgia Season Notebook

Miyah Verse Named McDonald’s All-America Nominee

Georgia signee Miyah Verse was recently named a nominee for the McDonald’s All-America Team. A native of Peoria, Arizona, Verse is a four-star recruit who landed in ESPN’s Super 60 Poll as one of the top players in the nation. She plays high school basketball at Arizona Elite Prep, which has become a national powerhouse.

Building on the Excitement

Against South Carolina earlier this year, the community showed up in a big way. The attendance was listed at 6,225, marking the largest crowd for a SEC home game at UGA since 2013-14 -- a span of nine seasons.

We’ll Take That

Georgia’s defensive pressure has forced double-digit turnovers in every game this season, while the team has recorded 10 or more steals 11 of 21 matchups so far. Georgia has held opponents to single-digit quarters on 10 occasions.

Smith Starts Well in SEC Play

Fifth-year senior Brittney Smith is off to a strong start in SEC play. In her first six league games, she has hit 38-of-66 (58 percent) from the field and has scored in double figures in every conference contest. Smith paces UGA against SEC foes with 16.3 ppg.

Historic Comeback

Earlier this year, the Lady Bulldogs posted one of the largest comebacks in program history. Down 20 to Wisconsin, Georgia used a 26-0 run and outscored the Badgers 33-5 late in the second half for the 68-60 win. Georgia played particularly well in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Badgers 25-5 in the final frame.

Zoesha’s Career Day

Junior forward Zoesha Smith has made the most of her first career starts this season. Against Georgia Tech , Smith scored a career-high 21 points, brought down a career-best 10 rebounds and totaled the most steals of her career with four. The Brunswick, Ga., native also posted a double-double for the first time in her career.

50th Season of Georgia Basketball

This marks the 50th season of Georgia Lady Bulldog basketball. This historic program ranks 15th all time in win percentage (.694) and 16th in total wins (1,052). Georgia ranks second nationally in NCAA tournament appearances with 35 and is still one of only three programs to boast a winning record every season since 1981.

Coach ABE Returns to Lead Georgia

Katie Abrahamson-Henderson was named just the third full-time head coach in Georgia history on March 26, 2022. Coach ABE played for the Lady Bulldogs from 1986-87 and was a member of the 1986 squad that captured the SEC Championship. Teammates Katrina McClain, Teresa Edwards, Lisa O’Connor and Carla Green, among others, helped lead Georgia to its third SEC title with Coach ABE playing in all 32 games as a freshman.

Success at Every Stop

Coach ABE has built successful programs in coaching stops at Albany, Missouri State and UCF. Her teams have won an unprecedented 70 percent of their games, an average of 22 victories per year, while capturing 16 conference titles in 17 seasons. At UCF, the 2021-22 squad won a school-record 26 games en route to the American Athletic Conference Championship, the AAC Tournament crown and a No. 7 seed in the NCAA tournament – the highest seeding in program history.

It’s A Family

A big reason for the success of Coach ABE’s programs lies with her coaching staff – a group that has been with her nearly every step of the way. Associate head coach Tahnee Balerio played for Coach ABE at Missouri State and is entering her 13th season on Coach ABE’s staff. Assistant coach Isoken Uzamere is in her 11th year with Coach ABE, while legendary former UConn All-American Nykesha Sales is in her seventh season. Former Albany standout Ebone Henry-Harris enters her seventh year.

League-Leading 10 Newcomers

With five letterwinners back from last year’s team, the Lady Bulldogs had 10 roster spots to fill this past offseason. Georgia welcomed three players from UCF,  while also adding Texas transfer Audrey Warren, West Virginia transfer Kari Niblack and Vanderbilt transfer De’Mauri Flournoy. Four freshmen also joined the team, including Savannah Henderson, Stefanie Ingram, Fatima Diakhate and Amiya Evans.

The 10 newcomers on this year’s roster ties Kentucky for the most in the SEC.

Georgia Players Have Postseason Success

Georgia’s five returners and six transfers have a combined 23 NCAA tournament appearances between them. Diamond Battles, Brittney Smith and Alisha Lewis earned three NCAA bids at UCF. Texas transfer Audrey Warren helped her team advance to back-to-back NCAA Elite Eights, while Kari Niblack guided West Virginia to the second round of the 2020-21 NCAA Tournament.

Dominant Defense

Under Coach ABE’s leadership, UCF led the nation in scoring defense in each of the last two seasons. The Knights held teams to just 47.8 points per game last year and just 50.5 ppg during the 2020-21 campaign. UCF held 18 opponents to 50 points or fewer with seven failing to reach 40 points during the 2021-22 season.

Diamond Shines Bright; Lands on Naismith Watch List

Fifth-year guard Diamond Battles developed into one of the top players in the nation during her time at UCF. She was the program’s first-ever AAC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year and was a consensus first-team All-Conference selection. The Winter Haven, Fla., native led UCF in scoring 16 times with 23 double-figure scoring efforts last year. This year, she was one of 50 players named to the Naismith National Player of the Year Watch List.

Family Business

A big part of Georgia’s impressive recruiting class this past offseason was a familiar name for Coach ABE. Savannah Henderson is the daughter of head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson and her husband Michael. The Orlando, Fla., native was a consensus top-50 prospect nationally as ESPN’s No. 41 overall player and No. 10 wing recruit. She prepped at Timbercreek (Orlando) and played for Central Florida Elite.

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