Georgia Basketball Gets Back in Action Against Jacksonville

Georgia (3-5) vs. Jacksonville (4-2)

Date: Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Tipoff: 7:00 p.m. ET

Location: Stegeman Coliseum (10,523) in Athens, Ga.

Watch: SEC Network+ (Jeff Dantzler, pbp; Mark Slonaker, analyst)

Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network – In Athens: 960 the Ref-AM, In Gainesville: 103.7-FM (Scott Howard, play-by-play; Chuck Dowdle, analyst; Adam Gillespie, producer)

The Starting 5…

• After scoring 32 points in his first 14 career outings, Jabri Abdur-Rahim has put up 35 in UGA’s last two games.

• Aaron Cook entered the week ranked No. 2 nationally in average assists per game with a 7.0 apg mark.

• Kario Oquendo has had #SCTop10 dunks during two of UGA’s three Tuesday night games.

• Tom Crean earned his 400th career victory with UGA’s 82-79 upset of No. 18 Memphis on Dec. 1.

• UGA’s seven first-year transfers combined to score 4,782 points at their previous schools.

The Opening Tip

Georgia returns to action on Tuesday when it hosts Jacksonville in the third contest of an eight-game, 37-day homestand.

The Bulldogs are coming of a thrilling 82-79 upset of No. 18 Memphis last Wednesday which also represented the 400th career victory for head coach Tom Crean. The largest lead either team enjoyed was seven points (by Georgia) and the nail-biter was either tied or a one- or two-possession game for all but 59 seconds of the 40 minutes of action.

Keeping An Eye On . . . Entering Today’s Game:

Entering Tonight’s Game:

Jailyn Ingram is...

• 4 steals from 100 for is career

Noah Baumann is...

• 1 game from his 100th career outing

Series History Against Jax

Georgia owns a perfect 10-0 record all-time versus Jacksonville, with seven of those victories coming in Athens.

In the most recent matchup on Dec. 4 last season, six Bulldogs scored in double figures in a 98-65 victory over the Dolphins.

After leading 46-36 at the half, the Bulldogs doubled that advantage midway through the second stanza and topped the 90-point plateau for the 12th time in 67 games under Tom Crean.

The series between UGA and JU began with a two-for-one contract spanning the 1965-66 through 1967-68 seasons. The teams met on a home-and-home basis during the late-80s and again in the mid-90s, while the last three matchups have been at Stegeman Coliseum.

Scouting The Dolphins

Jacksonville improved to 4-2 on the season with a double-digit road win at Charleston Southern last Thursday.

The Dolphins are in their first campaign under head coach Jordan Mincy, who spent the previous six seasons on the staff at Florida.

Jordan Davis is the Dolphins’ leading scorer at 11.7 ppg and the only Jacksonville player to start every game this season. A graduate transfer from Middle Tennessee, Davis is 6-3 and 195 points – three inches shorter and 145 pounds lighter than the uber-popular Georgia defensive lineman he shares a name with.

A balanced offensive attack features a quartet of Dolphins averaging between 8.0-9.2 ppg. Mike Marsh is Jacksonville’s second-leading scorer, Tommy Bruner is adding 8.8 ppg, and Osayo Osifo and Bryce Workman are chipping in 8.0 ppg apiece. Osifo is the team’s top rebounder, collecting 5.8 rpg.

Last Time Out

Career-high scoring outputs from Kario Oquendo and Christian Wright led a quartet of Bulldogs in double figures as Georgia upset No. 18 Memphis, 82-79, last Wednesday at a raucous Stegeman Coliseum.

Oquendo exploded for 24 points, while Wright added 17, as well as career-best tallies of six rebounds and 38 minutes. Jabri Abdur-Rahim scored 15 points, including a key 3-pointer that gave the Bulldogs the lead for good, while Bralen Bridges and Jailyn Ingram added 10 points each.

The victory was the 400th career win for Georgia head Tom Crean.

“It was a real honor to beat such a good team at home and have it be the way it is with that kind of force and energy from our fans,” Crean said. “I appreciate the announcement. I appreciate that graphic. I really appreciate getting to hug my wife and daughter and then my son after the game. Our fans – our students and our Georgia fans – were so good. They were great all game, but the last eight minutes, they carried us. Every time we needed something, our fans carried us.”

Neither team led by more than seven points at any point in the game and the score was separated by three possessions only three times – and that for a combined 59 seconds.

The Bulldogs trailed for 16:42 of the second half but surged ahead on shot clock-beating 3-pointer from Abdur-Rahim with 1:56 remaining. Oquendo followed that with a steal and breakaway dunk with 1:34 left that put Georgia up 80-77.

Memphis pulled within two with seven seconds left. Following a Wright free throw, the Tigers’ midcourt attempt to force overtime found the rim but was off the mark.

Jabri’s Stats Are Soaring

It’s probably glossed over too much that this fall is the first time Jabri Abdur-Rahim has played extended minutes in nearly two years. He suffered a foot injury during his senior season at Blair Academy and only played in two games.

Speaking of two games, it appears the Jabri who was ranked as one of the nation’s top-40 prospects in the Class of 2020 has re-emerged in Georgia’s last two outings.

Abdur-Rahim exploded for a career-high 20 points against Wofford and followed that with a 15-point showing versus No. 18 Memphis. Equally impressive as the totals was the efficiency in which he scored.

In the last two contests, Abdur-Rahim has scored more points and connected on more field goals and 3-pointers than he did in his 14 career outings prior to that as outlined below.

Abdur-Rahim’s Increases

Stat 1st 14 last 2 Diff.

Total Points 32 35 +3

Scoring Average 2.3 17.5 14.2

FGs Made 9 10 +1

FG Percentage .214 .667 +.453

3FGs Made 3 7 +4

3FG Percentage .125 .636 +.511

Crean Captures Win No. 400

Georgia head coach Tom Crean secured his 400th career victory with Georgia’s upset of No. 18 Memphis on December 1.

Prior to arriving in Athens, he compiled 366 W’s in his first 18 campaigns as a collegiate head coach, an impressive average of 18.9 wins per season.

Crean earned his first 190 victories in nine seasons at Marquette from 1998-2008 and added 166 more in nine campaigns at Indiana between 2008-17 before arriving in Athens and earning the final 44 of his 400.

Tom Crean’s Milestone Wins

No. 1 – Nov. 20, 1999 – Marquette defeats Chicago State, 62-43, in Tom Crean’s first game as a collegiate head coach.

No. 100 – March 6, 2004 – Freshman Dameon Mason’s three-point play with eight-tenths of a second left lifts Marquette over No. 25 Louisville, 81-80.

No. 200 – Dec. 8, 2009 – Indiana knocks off Pittsburgh, 74-64, in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

No. 250 – Nov. 20, 2012 – A day after beating Georgia, 66-53, in the first round, IU tops Georgetown, 82-72, to win the Progressive Legends Classic at Barclays Center.

No. 300 – Dec. 20, 2014 – Indiana tops No. 23 Butler, 82-73, as Yogi Ferrell became IU’s 48th 1,000-point scorer.

Wright Stellar Against Tigers

Freshman Christian Wright started at point guard against No. 18 Memphis for Aaron Cook, who was out of action due to an illness. That assignment would be tall task for anyone considering the Tigers entered the game forcing an average of 18.0 turnovers per game.

While Wright’s scoring, rebounding and playing time tallies drew significant attention – and why wouldn’t career-high totals of 17 points, six boards and 38 minutes do so – it was his TO tally that was probably the most significant digit in his linescore. Wright committed just one turnover while logging the most PT of any Bulldog in any game this season to date.

Also of note, Wright drew seven fouls against Memphis, including two on the offensive end, and converted on 6-of-7 trips to the free throw line.

We Should’ve Known...

...when Georgia tipped off against No. 18 Memphis, Kario Oquendo was ready for a breakout performance. There were pretty good indicators on record.

Last season, the Titusville, Fla., native averaged 13.5 points while shooting 55.4 percent from the field for the Florida SouthWestern College.

In Buccaneers’ four contests against ranked opponents, those stats jumped to 22.0 points per game while converting on 63.6 percent of his field goals.

The trend of big nights against ranked foes continued against Memphis, with Oquendo pouring in 24 points while shooting 69.2 percent (9-of-13) from the floor.

Take II: We Should’ve Known...

...the Bulldogs’ upset of No. 18 Memphis was a likely occurrence. Georgia’s quartet of victories over ranked teams under Tom Crean all came against opponents nicknamed Tigers.

Georgia has now one four consecutive contests against ranked Tigers, with the Bulldogs besting No. 9 Memphis on Jan. 4, 2020, No. 13 Auburn on Feb. 19, 2020 and No. 20 Missouri on Feb. 16, 2021 prior to their 82-79 victory over No. 18 Memphis on Dec. 1.

Tip of the cap to stats guru Dave McMahon (@dave_mc_stats) for being the first to notice the coincidence.

Bridges, Cook Among Leaders

Braelen Bridges and Aaron Cook entered this week ranked among SEC and NCAA leaders in field goal percentage and assists, respectively.

Bridges was No. 2 in the league and No. 26 nationally in shooting efficiency, converting on 63.1 percent (41-of-65) of his shots from the floor.

Cook ranked second in the SEC in both total assists and assist average. Nationally, his 7.0 apg effort was No. 2 assist total of 49 passes-to-points was No. 14.

The SportsCenter “top-Quen”

If it’s a Tuesday – and it is – and the Bulldogs are playing, go ahead and set your DVR for SportsCenter if you want to see a Kario Oquendo highlight.

On Tuesday, Nov. 16, Oquendo came in at No. 3 on SportsCenter’s top-10 plays after his third highlight reel effort against S.C. State. He stole the ball at midcourt and windmilled home an uncontested dunk.

Oquendo came in at No. 6 on Tuesday, Nov. 23 with a posterized effort. The Titusville, Fla., native, who’s 6-4, gathered a steal in the Northwestern lane and drove the length of the floor before delivering a thunderous dunk over 6-9 Robbie Beran.

If you want to rate Oquendo’s SportsCenter dunks, you can find the S.C. State slam at gado.gs/kariosctop1116 and the Northwestern effort at gado.gs/kariosc1123.

Experience Has Traveled

The phrase “defense travels” is a well-known in the sports world.

The slogan “experience has traveled” may become a more appropriate for the 2021-22 Georgia Bulldogs.

Georgia’s lineup is anchored by five D-I transfers, sixth-year “super seniors” Aaron Cook and Jailyn Ingram, graduate transfer seniors Noah Baumann and Braelen Bridges and sophomore Jabri Abdur-Rahim.

That quintet has accounted for 29 of 40 (72.5 percent) of Georgia’s starting nods and the majority of its production in virtually every stat as outlined below.

D-I Transfer Contributions

Stat Team D-I Ts Pct.

Minutes 1600 907 56.7

Scoring 544 349 64.2

Rebounds 247 154 62.3

Assists 111 77 69.4

Blocks 22 8 36.4

Steals 43 20 46.5

Of Firsts Against Wofford

Freshman Christian Wright earned his first career start against Wofford on Sunday and dished out a team and career-high five assists on the day. Wright became the first Bulldog other than Aaron Cook to lead Georgia in dimes delivered.

Sophomore Josh Taylor checked in for his first PT of the campaign versus the Terriers and scored a career-high four points in three first-half minutes.

Shooting His Shot

Noah Baumann had an eventual Sunday, November 14. The graduate transfer from Southern Cal proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Mackenzie Moore, beside Lake Herrick at the intramural fields on the UGA campus.

Baumann and Moore have known each other since they were 7th graders at Akimel (pronounced ah-kee-mull) Middle School and started dating during their senior year at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix.

They have endured a long-distance relationship for the past four years.

Moore was a four-year starter on the Miami (Ohio) softball team, batting .279 with seven homers and 66 RBI. She was named second-team All-MAC as a senior, leading the RedHawks to a 46-10 finish, the MAC Championship and an NCAA Tournament bid.

A Homecoming For Jabri

Jabri Abdur-Rahim is from South Orange, N.J., where he attended Blair Academy about an hour from the Prudential Center where the Roman Legends Classic was played.

Abdur-Rahim was named the 2019 Gatorade New Jersey Player of the Year after leading Blair’s Buccaneers to the Prep A state title. A two-time high school All-American, he missed all but two games of his senior season due to a foot injury. Abdur-Rahim was a consensus top-50 prospect in the Class of 2020, including being listed at No. 38 by ESPN.com.

Jabri’s uncle, Amir, was an assistant coach on the Georgia staff during Tom Crean’s first season in Athens before being named head coach at Kennesaw State.

Cook Tops Millennium Mark

Aaron Cook blew past the 1,000-point career scoring mark on Nov. 16 against South Carolina State.

The “super senior” was eight points shy of that plateau entering the game. He inched past the milestone on a jumper with 2:21 left in the first half. Cook finished the night with 22 points, three of his career high versus Indiana State on Jan. 24, 2018.

Cook scored 845 points at Southern Illinois from 2016-20. He competed for four seasons at SIU, including a redshirt campaign in 2019-20 due to a broken hand.

Cook transferred to Gonzaga and added 127 points for the Bulldogs en route to their NCAA runner-up finish last season.

Cook scored 10 points in each of his first two outings at UGA, pushing him to 992 prior to the S.C. State matchup.

Dalen, Kario Draw Attention

Kario Oquendo and Dalen Ridgnal have been ranked among the top junior college transfers expected to make the biggest marks at the Division-I level this season.

On August 25, bustingbrackets.com ranked the top-25 junior college players moving to the “high-major” level. Ridgnal was tabbed No. 2 on that ledger, while Oquendo was ranked No. 23.

On Nov. 1, college basketball guru Jon Rothstein tabbed his top-10 “JUCOs to watch” that also included Ridgnal.

Cook Among Most Experienced

Aaron Cook arrived in Athens having already participated in 133 games. Cook logged action in 103 contests in four seasons at Southern Illinois, including six in a 2019-20 redshirt campaign. He then played in 30 contests last season at Gonzaga.

Cook’s was the third-most experienced player – game wise – in Division I entering this season as outlined in the next column.

As a point of reference for Georgia’s record for career games played is 133 contests by Marcus Thornton from 2011-15. Thornton’s tally covers five seasons, including a redshirt season with nine GPs.

In addition, Jailyn Cook ranked among D-I’s top-50 players in career outings entering 2021-22, having played in 122 contests at FAU prior to joining the Bulldogs.

D-I’s Career GPs Leaders

Rk. Player, School Games

1. Jordan Bohannon, Iowa 142

2. Chevez Goodwin, USC 138

3. Aaron Cook, Georgia 133

Garrison Brooks, Miss. St. 133

Jalen Coleman-Lands, Kansas 133

Justin Kier, Arizona 133

The Hoops Version of The CFP

Anyone who knows anything about college athletics is well aware that Georgia and Cincinnati, which met on the hardwood on Nov. 13, are undefeated in football.

In fact, there were only four FBS football programs that entered last weekend with unblemished records. In an almost unfathomable coincidence, the other two unbeatens – Oklahoma and UTSA – also played basketball against each the day before Bulldogs and the Bearcats did so.

Georgia In Season Openers

With their win over FIU, the Bulldogs improved to 84-33 in the opening contests of 117 seasons of basketball.

That tally includes an even more impressive 38-6 mark in openers contested at Stegeman Coliseum.

Georgia’s most significant win in an opener at the Coliseum also was its first. In the Bulldogs’ initial season opener in their current arena on Dec. 3 1964, Georgia bested No. 13 North Carolina, 64-61.

Welcoming A Slew Of Scoring

Of the 10 newcomers on the Bulldogs’ roster seven are transfers – five from the Division I level (Jabri Abdur-Rahim, Noah Baumann, Braelen Bridges, Aaron Cook and Jailyn Ingram) and a pair from the junior college ranks (Kario Oquendo and Dalen Ridgnal).

Those players arrived in Athens having already scored 4,782 points at their previous schools. That represents the largest addition of scoring by any Division I program for the 2021-22 season as outlined below.

In their previous stops, the D-I quintet of the group also logged 8813 minutes in 404 games played, while grabbing 1283 rebounds, dishing 643 assists, swatting 116 blocks and collecting 304 steals.

Top Scoring Influx’s In D-I hoops

Rk. School Players Points

1. Georgia 7 4782

2. Duquesne 5 4695

3. Florida 5 4144

4. Arkansas 6 4125

5. Penn State 7 5183

6. Washington St. 4 3785

7. SMU 4 3733

8. Kentucky 4 3538

9. Utah 6 3175

10. Arizona St. 3 3132

On The Flip Side...

While Georgia welcomed a huge influx of college scoring from its newcomers, the Bulldogs returned a minuscule portion of their scoring from last season.

P.J. Horne was Georgia’s only returning starter but was lost for the season after suffering a knee injury during preseason practices. The Tifton, Ga., native put up 222 points – 8.5 ppg – last season, largely due to connecting on a team-high 46 3-pointers.

“This is such a major blow to us because P.J. was playing so well and showing great leadership as our leading returning player, but more so because he is such a great person and one of the finest people I’ve ever coached,” Tom Crean tweeted on Oct. 20. “He cares about his teammates deeply.”

With that, the four returning Bulldogs accounted for only 1110 of Georgia’s 2014 points a year ago, or 5.5 percent. Walk-on Jaxon Etter is the top returning point producer with 47 points.

Putting Up Points Under Crean

Georgia has certainly been keeping scoreboard operators busy since Tom Crean arrived in Athens in 2018.

The Bulldogs reached the 90-point plateau 15 times in 90 games during Crean’s first three seasons. That’s a relatively healthy 16.7 percent of the team’s total contests.

By comparison, Georgia scored 90 or more points just 15 times in 387 games before Crean’s arrival, or .038 percent of the outings in a span that dates back a dozen seasons to the 2006-07 campaign.

The big numbers by the Bulldogs aren’t just a single-game thing.

In three seasons under Crean, the Bulldogs have averaged two of their top-5 scoring outputs of the 2000s as outlined below.

Top Scoring Averages In 2000s

Rk. Season Points Games Avg.

1. 2002-03 2138 27 79.2

2. 2020-21 1944 25 77.8

3. 2001-02 2444 32 76.4

4. 2019-20 2428 32 75.9

5. 2006-07 2477 33 75.1

“B” Is For Basketball Player

You may notice on Georgia’s roster that the Bulldogs have gone away from listing traditional positions – guard, forward and center. All 15 players are now simply listed as “B” for “Basketball Player.”

Tom Crean is a proponent for “position-less basketball.”

“That’s what they are,” Crean said. “It’s not valid to call them centers and power forwards and things like that as much with the way that we’re trying to play. They’re being trained as basketball players, every day... in the sense of how we train with the ball handling, the driving, the shooting – all those type of things. That’s big to me.”

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