The 5-1 Virginia Tech basketball team faces their second consecutive power
conference opponent on Sunday when the Georgia Bulldogs come to Blacksburg.
Georgia upset the Hokies last season, and it was one of a couple of key games
that kept Tech out of the NCAA tournament. The Hokies will be looking for
revenge this year in Cassell Coliseum.
Georgia is 4-2 on the year, with wins over New Orleans (67-59), UNC Asheville
(79-58), Jacksonville State (67-64) and Saint Louis (64-56). Their losses have
come to Wofford (60-57) and UAB (72-56). The Bulldogs have played just one game
on the road, and that was the 16-point loss at UAB.
Just like the Iowa team the Hokies defeated on Tuesday night, Georgia is very
limited offensively. They have scored over 67 points just once on the season,
and they are averaging only 65 points per game. This is a big, physical Bulldog
team, but not a particularly good team at this point.
Former Parade All-American Trey Thompkins will lead the Bulldogs into
Blacksburg. Thompkins was a starter on the U19 US National Team this past
summer. He was the second-leading scorer on that team, which went undefeated in
a two week event in New Zealand.
Thompkins has great length, and he’s also an outstanding shooter for his
size. He’s shooting 45.5% from three-point range on the season, and he’s
knocking his free throws down at a 93.8% clip. Thompkins is a very skilled
player, and though he’s prone to turnovers, his size makes him a big mismatch
for Virginia Tech.
Sophomore wing Travis Leslie is in his second season at Georgia, and he’s
broken into the starting lineup this year. Leslie is a very athletic player who
gets most of his points on the inside. He leads the team with 16 offensive
rebounds this year. If Dorenzo Hudson draws the assignment of defending Leslie,
he needs to concentrate on boxing out.
Leslie is not a threat from the outside, however. He did not attempt a
three-pointer in 32 games as a freshman last season, and he’s only 1-of-2 from
behind the arc this year. The key to stopping Leslie is keeping him out of the
lane and boxing him out after missed shots.
Ricky McPhee is a former walk-on and a transfer from Gardner-Webb, but he is
Georgia’s third leading scorer. He is also the only consistent three-point
threat among Georgia’s perimeter players. McPhee is shooting 38.7% from the
outside this year, and he has made 12 of his team’s 24 three-pointers over the
first six games.
Dustin Ware runs the point for Georgia. He is undersized, but he started 17
games last year as a freshman. He had 108 assists and 75 turnovers, a good ratio
for a true freshman in a power conference. Ware isn’t shooting the ball
particularly well this year (31.6% from the field and 26.1% from three-point
range), but he showed last season that he’s capable of knocking down the open
The final starter is center Chris Barnes. Barnes is a physical guy on the
inside, though he doesn’t put up big numbers. He did score 11 points in 16
minutes against the Hokies last year, so he is certainly capable.
The best player off the bench for Georgia is Jeremy Price (6-8, 264, Jr.).
Price is a big bodied player who was an All-SEC freshman back in 2007-08. He is
averaging 8.7 points and 4.2 rebounds in 18.5 minutes per game for the Bulldogs.
Albert Jackson (6-11, 265, Sr.) is another huge player on the inside for the
Bulldogs, who will have a significant size advantage over the Hokies.
Virginia Tech will play true freshman Cadarian Raines some in this game.
Raines possesses the size that the Hokies have been missing this year. He missed
all of the preseason with a foot fracture, so Raines is still getting into shape
and learning the system, but he will see his first action against Georgia. How much
action remains to be seen.
Georgia has been able to control the boards against their opponents this
year, thanks to their size on the inside. The Hokies aren’t big in the
frontcourt, though the return of Raines will help.
Georgia has over an inch on the Hokies on average, and they also average 17
pounds more per man. Expect the Bulldogs to pound the basketball inside as much
as possible in this game. It will be interesting to see if Jeff Allen gets the
start for Tech. Seth Greenberg brought him off the bench against Iowa to help
keep him out of foul trouble, and it worked. Will Greenberg use the same
strategy against Georgia? We’ll find out on Sunday.
Virginia Tech needs to counter Georgia’s frontcourt by playing well in the
backcourt. The Hokies are averaging just 9.7 turnovers per game and are +5.5 in
turnover margin. Georgia averages 15.2 turnovers per game, and they are -2.5 in
Tech ranks 26th nationally in turnover margin, while Georgia is ranked 281st
(out of 334). In overall turnovers per game, the Hokies are 11th in the country,
while the Bulldogs are 162nd. Those stats have not been updated with the teams’
latest games (Iowa for the Hokies, Saint Louis for Georgia). If every other team
in the country stayed the same, Tech would be up to fourth nationally in
turnovers per game after the Iowa game.
Turnovers are going to be the key to this game. Tech has to force turnovers
and maximize their possessions. Georgia will likely play well on the inside and
get some offensive rebounds, so the Hokies need to be efficient with the