The Bulldogs entered the week ranked second in the country in scoring at 91.6 points per game, and that was before they scored 93 against Jacksonville on Tuesday. Georgia hasn’t averaged more than 80 points per game since the 1990-91 season and has never averaged more than 82.7 points in a season.
Strangely, though, the key question heading into tonight’s game at Alexander Memorial Coliseum in Atlanta is can the Bulldogs play enough defense, which is rarely a question for a Dennis Felton-coached team.
“That’s my biggest concern sometimes,” senior guard Levi Stukes said. “Sometimes we play so up tempo that we tend to play a little faster on defense than we have to and it kind of feeds the offense we’re playing against. There are going to be times our offense is not as good as it has been and we’re only going to score 70 points, so we have to lean on our defense a lot more.”
(The other major concern for Georgia is how it will fare with a hobbling point guard. Starter Sundiata Gaines suffered a sprained right ankle against Jacksonville on Tuesday. Felton said Thursday he expects Gaines to play today, but the junior did not practice with the team Thursday.)
Georgia is not in the top 50 in the NCAA in scoring defense and is eighth in the SEC, giving up 65.6 points per game. It’s sometimes difficult for the inexperienced Bulldogs to mentally balance playing as fast as they want to on the offensive end and playing as intensely as they must on the defensive end, guard Mike Mercer said.
“We are definitely a defensive team before offense. That wouldn’t show by how many points we have a game, but our defense creates our offense,” he said. “(Against Jacksonville, which scored 77 points) I think we focused more on the offensive end and lost track of the defensive end.”
The Yellow Jackets entered the week No. 15 in the country in scoring at 83.7 points per game, so Georgia could be in trouble if it losses track tonight.
“I really want our players to always play defense as if they’re on fire, really, really intense, but you do have to be purposeful and disciplined with it,” Felton said. “We’re not as good at anything as I want to be yet, and thankfully so. Who would want to be as good at everything as you want to be in December?”