Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Georgia vs. Xavier Hoops Preview

The Dawgs enter an important three-game stretch tonight when they take on the Musketeers from Xavier. Xavier hails from the Atlantic-10 conference (the same one as Temple) and have been playing some pretty good ball lately, as they have won 8 of their last 9 games. They are coached by Chris Mack, who is currently in his second year as head coach. Last season, Xavier finished 26-9, and made it to the Sweet 16 before bowing out to Kansas State in a thriller. This season, they are currently 16-6 and 8-1 in conference play. ESPN's Joe Lunardi currently has Xavier as a 9-seed to make the tournament. UGA and Xavier also have two common opponents this season; they lost to Florida 71-67 at home and defeated Temple 88-77 at home.

As for Xavier's players, they are led by point guard Terrell Holloway, who is averaging 20.8 ppg, 5 assists per game, and shoots 87% on free throws -- it kind of goes without saying we need to contain him. Their second-leading scorer is guard Mark Lyons, who is averaging 13.8 ppg and shoots nearly 39% on three pointers. Inside, they are led by 7-foot center Kenny Frease; he is averaging 11.9 ppg and 6.8 rpg. Also on the inside in 6'8'' forward Jamel McLean, who averages 11.4 ppg and leads the team in rebounding with 8.8 per game.

As you can see, this team is pretty scary in many ways. The only positive is that they comfortably only go six or seven deep, so getting them in foul trouble (especially their starting guards) would be huge. Also, Trey is going to have to MAN the EFF UP tonight. Their two starting frontcourt guys are 265 lbs and 235 lbs respectively, so playing physical down low will be key. And probably the biggest key will be Robinson guarding Holloway. If Gerald gets in foul trouble, we really don't have another option to guard this guy man-to-man. Hollowary AVERAGES 38.4 minutes, so he will be out there for the vast majority of the game. The good news is that Holloway and Lyons are really the only 3-point threats, so we may try to run zone tonight to keep them from penetrating.

Xavier is similar to Kentucky in many ways -- they are pretty athletic, they have competent guards and big men, but they aren't extremely deep. This is a HUGE game for both teams, as the loser will most likely be on the bracket bubble. And given our upcoming schedule, we definitely need to be on the good side of the bubble.

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