As the No. 8 seed, Georgia (15-16, 9-9) opens play in the 2013 Southeastern Conference Tournament against 9th-seeded LSU (18-11, 9-9) on Thursday afternoon in Nashville, Tenn. The Bulldogs and Tigers finished the SEC season with identical 9-9 records. Georgia, however, won the tie-breaker based upon the only head-to-head matchup between the two teams: a 67-58 Bulldog victory in Athens on Jan. 19. It was the first of Georgia's nine SEC wins this season.
Georgia arrives at this tournament with a 15-16 overall record. The Bulldogs completed the regular season with a 61-58 loss at Alabama five days ago, a game in which Georgia trailed throughout but managed a 58-58 tie inside the final minute. It was the second straight road loss on a buzzer-beater and a third straight that was decided on the final possession.
Still, Georgia's 9-9 league mark represents just the third .500 SEC record for the Bulldogs in the past 10 years. It also marks quite an accomplishment for a team that played its first five league games with a 1-4 record.
Georgia vs. LSU
• Saturday's game is the 104th all-time meeting between Georgia and LSU in basketball. LSU leads the all-time series by a 61-42 count.
• LSU has accrued this fairly large lead in the series despite a run by Georgia since 1992, when the SEC expanded, was pared into divisions and interdivisional play took place just once per season. Since that year, Georgia has won 16 of 27 meetings.
• A geographical breakdown of the series follows:
Games in Athens: UGA leads 26-21
Games in Baton Rouge: LSU leads 34-12
Neutral-Court Games: LSU leads 6-4
SEC Tournament Games: LSU leads 4-3
• Projected LSU starter Charles Carmouche, a transfer from the University of New Orleans, has prior experience playing against Georgia. He started and scored 20 points for the Privateers in a 67-59 Georgia victory on Nov. 13, 2009. It was the first regular-season game of the Mark Fox era at UGA.
• On this day five years ago, a category F2 tornado struck the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, where Georgia was preparing to play Kentucky in the SEC Tournament 2nd round. The tornado rendered the Dome an unfit facility, precipitating a move to Georgia Tech's Alexander Coliseum. Georgia went on to win the 2008 SEC Tournament, first by winning its 2nd-round and semifinal games on Saturday and then by beating Arkansas on Sunday in the title game.
• Georgia is within a hair's breadth of riding a 7-game road winning streak. In backwards order, its last four road games -- all following a 3-game road win streak -- have ended in close losses: at Alabama (buzzer beater), at Vandy (buzzer beater), at Arkansas (decided on final possession) and at Ole Miss (overtime after narrow miss at end of regulation).
• Right now, Georgia has just one player (KCP at 18.0 ppg) averaging in double-digit scoring. No Bulldog team of the past 50 years has had that distinction.
• Even with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope starting all 31 games, the Georgia starters this season have been outscored by an average of 7.3 points (37.9 - 45.2). The Bulldog bench, however, has outdone its counterparts by an average score of 22.9 - 16.2 (+6.7). In fact, Georgia reserves have been outscored just once through the entire SEC schedule: in the opener at Florida (16-22).
• Georgia has used 12 different starting lineups this season. The one constant through all 12 lineups is, of course, has been Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Five other teammates (both Williamses, Morris, Florveus and Djurisic) now have double-digit starts.
• KCP enters this tournament 19 points shy of reaching 1,000 for his career. If he gets there, he'll be the 42nd player in UGA history to reach that milestone, but he'll be the first since Jarvis Hayes (2002-03) to reach it in just two seasons. By comparison, Hall-of-Famer Dominique Wilkins reached 1,000 points in his 46th game at UGA, which came near the end of his sophomore season. Wilkins played in just 16 games as a freshman because of a foot injury. Jacky Dorsey, 2-time All-SEC forward in 1975-76, is the fastest Georgia player ever to 1,000 points, reaching the mark in the 43rd game of his career.
• Caldwell-Pope is just the second Bulldog ever to win SEC Player-of-the-Year honors. Dominique Wilkins, also as a sophomore in 1981, was the first Georgia player to win POY.
• One more interesting tidbit about Caldwell-Pope. He remains one of just nine players in all of NCAA Division I that have scored in double figures in each of their team's games. He's the only SEC player to accomplish this feat and one of just five from the "BCS" leagues to do so. Only four SEC players have accomplished the feat over an entire season since 1996: Glen Davis of LSU (2005-06), Marquis Daniels of Auburn (2002-03), Ron Slay of Tennessee (2002-03) and Ansu Sesay of Ole Miss (1997-98).
• Nemi Djurisic was the fifth-leading scorer on last season's Georgia team at 7.0 points per game. This year he's raised his average to 7.9 per game but is now the No. 2 scorer on the current squad.
• Caldwell-Pope and Charles Mann each surpassed the 150 free throw attempts mark last week. It's been 23 years since Georgia had two players try that many in a single season (Alec Kessler and Litterial Green in 1989-90). Mann's current total is the most by a freshman guard at UGA since Green in 1989.
• Georgia's recent 5-game win streak was the longest in SEC play under coach Mark Fox. The longest win streak, period, of the Fox era is a 9-game run in the 2010-11 season. The school record for consecutive SEC wins is six, established three times: in 2001, 1992-93 teams (spanning both seasons) and also the SEC championship team of 1990. The last time for a 7-game league win streak occurred in the 1930-31 season, when the Bulldogs belonged to the Southern Conference.
Georgia & the SEC Tournament
Georgia has a 39-49 overall record (.443) in Tournament games. That's eighth-best among the 16 teams that have participated in the Tournament's history (includes ex-members Ga. Tech, Tulane and Sewanee).
Georgia has reached the finals sixtimes: 1940, 1981, 1983, 1988, 1997 and 2008. It's reached the semis 12 times, fifth-best among all SEC teams.
Georgia's first championship came in 1983, and it served as a springboard for the Bulldogs' march to the NCAA Final Four.
Since the tournament was revived in 1979, an SEC team has advanced from the first round to the title game (four straight games) just nine times. Georgia has done it thrice:
1988 Lost to Kentucky in title game
1997 Lost to Kentucky in title game
2008 Defeated Arkansas in title game
For 19 straight years, from 1980-98, Georgia played at least into the tournament second round. Its 1st-round exit in `99 ended that string, and the Bulldogs had met a similar fate each succeeding time before an opening-round win over Auburn in 2004.
Georgia has won at least one SEC Tournament game each year since Mark Fox arrived in 2009.
Georgia owns at least a share of several tournament records:
• Longest Game: 4 OTs vs. Auburn in 1979.
• Fewest Points: 11 vs. Tennessee in 1937
• Fewest FGs: 3 vs. Tennessee in 1937
• Fewest FTs Made: 1 vs. Mississippi State in 2009
• Most 3-pt. FGA: 17 by Jody Patton vs. Tennessee in 1991
• Most 3-pt. FGM: 8 by Levi Stukes vs. Auburn in 2004 (1 of 5 players to hold the record)
By beating them in the SEC Tournament, Georgia has had the unusual distinction of playing three recent SEC coaches in their last games at their respective schools: Dale Brown of LSU (1997), Richard Williams of Mississippi State (1998) and Cliff Ellis of Auburn (2004).
Twelve Georgia players have made the All-Tournament team, six since the tourney was revived in 1979. Before Sundiata Gaines and Terrance Woodbury made the team in 2008, it had been 11 years since Georgia's last appointment:
Dominique Wilkins (MVP in `81), Vern Fleming (MVP in 1983), Pat Hamilton in 1988, Ray Harrison in 1997; Sundiata Gaines (MVP) and Terrance Woodbury in 2008.