Posted: 1:41 pm Saturday, March 15th, 2014
By Chip Towers
Greetings from the Georgia Dome, where I have spent most of my waking existence the past few days. Not complaining. It has been exciting, and the Georgia Bulldogs are certainly having a blast.
The Bulldogs survived another thriller against Ole Miss in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament late last night. Charles Mann made a lay-up off an offensive rebound with 17 seconds remaining, the Rebels’ Marshall Henderson missed the 14th of his 16 3-point attempts with about 5 seconds remaining and Marcus Thornton made a final free throw with 3.9 seconds to go as Georgia held on for a gritty 75-73 before 19,056 at the Georgia Dome.
As a result, the Bulldogs get a much-anticipated rematch against regal Kentucky in the tournament semifinals today at about 3:45 or 4 p.m. The game is scheduled to tip off 25 minutes after the 1 p.m. semifinal between Florida and Tennessee concludes. You’ll be able to watch the game on ABC. Brad Nessler and Jimmy Dykes will call the game.
Some things to think about regarding today’s game:
1. As I wrote late last night, Georgia is eager to get another shot at the Wildcats. The Bulldogs didn’t fare too well in their only regular-season meeting Jan. 25 in Lexington. Playing without shooting guards Kenny Gaines (bruised thigh) and Juwan Parker (hamstring), UGA went down 79-54. Obviously they feel like they can represent themselves better this time with a full complement of players.
“I mean, we just glued the team together up there,” coach Mark Fox said. “Marcus Thornton, who started (the Ole Miss game) at center, we started him at the 2 guard that day. We had to sit in a zone and run about three different things, because that’s all we could glue together with the injuries. So we’ll have more options available, but we’ll have to play terrific to have a chance to win.”
2. In terms of postseason aspirations, victory today is very important for the Bulldogs. At this point Georgia has essentially assured itself of an NIT berth. But any hopes of an NCAA will be predicated not just on a win today, but likely also winning the championship tomorrow. The Bulldogs moved up to 68 in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) provided by ESPN.com and its resident bracket expert Joe Lunardi. That remains fifth among SEC teams and, oddly enough, considerably behind Missouri (47), which the Bulldogs swept this season.
3. It’s the 14th time UGA has advanced to the SEC tournament semifinal and first since 2008, when the Bulldogs made the miraculous run in the “Tornado Tournament.”
4. Compare that to Kentucky, which brings in a 37-2 in SEC tournament semifinal games. The Wildcats are 1-0 when playing Georgia in the semifinals. They’re 120-24 overall in conference tournament.
5. Georgia is shooting for its 20th victory of the season today. It would be just the 12th season of 20 or more victories and the second in the past 12 years.
6. Didn’t realize this until I read it in some notes today, but Kenny Gaines is now the SEC’s leading 3-point shooter in conference games (45.1 percent).
7. Of course, Charles Mann is the Bulldogs’ most indispensable player. He leads the team in points (13.5 pg), assists (3.1 pg) and minutes (29.7 pg). He was second-team All-SEC.
8. Georgia’s bench has been pretty awesome all year. Last night it out-scored Ole Miss’s reserves 20-16, led by a critical 11 points from freshman guard J.J. Frazier. He played 21 minutes with Mann in first-half foul trouble.
If there’s anything else you want to know, post a question in the comments and I’ll try to get you an answer.
In case you missed it, here’s me getting taken out by Ole Miss guard Martavious Newby with 3.9 seconds remaining last night. Video provided by ESPN’s Dari Nowkah.