Game 9: Georgia (5-3) vs. Georgia Tech (4-2)
Date: Tuesday, December 5
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Stegeman Coliseum (10,523)
Location: Athens, Ga.
Series History: GT leads, 107-91
Last Meeting: GT, 79-77, on 12/6/22
Video: SEC Network (Tom Hart, play-by-play; Daymeon Fishback, color analyst)
Radio: Georgia Bulldog Network - (Scott Howard, play-by-play; Chuck Dowdle, color analyst; Adam Gillespie, producer)
GAME GIVEAWAY: The first 1500 UGA students in attendance will receive a free “Wreck Tech” t-shirt.
The Starting Five
• Georgia hosts Georgia Tech on Tuesday in the second outing of a six-game December homestand. The Bulldogs are 4-0 at Stegeman Coliseum this season and 17-4 at Stegeman under Mike White.
• The Bulldogs sport a modest three-game winning streak, sandwiching a dramatic rally from 17 points down to defeat Florida State in Tallahassee between home “Ws” over Winthrop and Mercer.
• Georgia is slated to play 13 of 31 (41.9 percent) of its regular-season games against teams featured in the most recent edition of ESPN.com’s bracketology. Another foe, Oregon, is the “first team out,” and the Bulldogs defeated Eastern Kentucky, another projected NCAA team, in a preseason exhibition.
• Georgia is the nation’s only Power conference team to: 1) open its season with back-to-back games versus Power conference programs (Oregon and Wake Forest); and 2) face four Power conference foes in its first five outings (UO, WFU, Miami and Providence).
The Opening Tip
Georgia will host arch rival Georgia Tech on Tuesday evening in the second outing of a six-game December homestand for the Bulldogs.
Last Friday, Georgia defeated Mercer to extend its modest winning streak to three games. Following the Tech game, the Bulldogs will have an 11-day break from competition during Final Exams. Georgia will then play three outings at Stegeman between Dec. 16-22 before an eight-day holiday hiatus. The Bulldogs will wrap up non-conference play by facing Alabama A&M on Dec. 30.
Georgia is 5-3. The Bulldogs’ trio of victories in their most recent outings includes a relatively miraculous rally from 17 points down with 6:37 remaining to defeat Florida State, 68-66, last Wednesday in Tallahassee. The Bulldogs’ victory also supplied the SEC with a 7-7 split in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge.
Two of Georgia’s three setbacks are to teams currently included in ESPN’s bracketology...and the third is to its “first team out.” The Bulldogs are the only Power conference team in the nation to: 1) start the season with back-to-back outings against other Power conference foes; and 2) face Power conference competition in four of the first five games of the year.
Jabri Abdur-Rahim is pacing Georgia offensively at 13.1 ppg, largely due to connecting on team-best percentages of .429 (18-of-42) from 3-point range and .891 (41-of-46) at the line. Noah Thomasson also is scoring at a double-digit clip for the Bulldogs at 12.4 ppg.
Scouting The Jackets
Georgia Tech is off to a 4-2 start in head coach Damon Stoudamire’s first season.
Tech arrives in Athens following back-to-back home victories over ranked teams last week. The Yellow Jackets defeated No. 21/22 Mississippi State in the ACC/SEC Challenge on Tuesday and then topped No. 7/7 Duke on Saturday in their ACC opener.
Miles Kelly leads Tech in both scoring and rebounding with averages of 18.8 ppg and 6.7 rpg. Kowacie Reeves and Baye Ndongo also are contributing double-figure scoring averages of 11.3 ppg and 10.3 ppg, respectively.
Series History With Tech
Though Georgia owns a 54-31 edge in games played in Athens, Georgia Tech leads the all-time series between UGA and GT, 107-91.
The Yellow Jackets won the most recent meeting, 79-77, in Atlanta last season. That contest was back-and-forth battle featuring 11 ties and 18 lead changes.
Terry Roberts led the Bulldogs with 16 points and seven assists; however, his apparent final bucket of the night was waved off by an offensive foul.
After the Bulldogs led 39-34 at the intermission, Tech began the second stanza with a 9-0 surge, the first of 15 lead changes in the period. The last, with 23 seconds left, put Tech up 79-77.
With 2.6 remaining, a Roberts layup was negated by an offensive foul. The final outcome wasn’t decided at that point, however. Kario Oquendo stole Tech’s ensuring inbounds pass and squared up a 3-pointer just on Georgia’s side of the half court line that rimmed off.
Tech also won the last meeting at Stegeman Coliseum, 88-78 on Nov. 19, 2021. That setback snapped Georgia’s five-game winning streak over Jackets – which matched the Bulldogs’ second-longest ever against GT.
The Bulldogs led 73-71 in that contest with 4:34 remaining before Tech surged.
Aaron Cook led the Bulldogs with 18 points and six assists, while “super senior” Jailyn Ingram chipped in 17 points and a team-high six rebounds. Michael DeVoe and Jordan Usher combined to score 58 of Tech’s 88 points while connecting on 23-of-32 (71.9 percent) of their shots from the floor.
Last Time Out
RJ Melendez’s career-high 18 points led a quintet of Bulldogs in double figures as Georgia defeated Mercer, 80-69, last Friday at Stegeman Coliseum.
Two days before his birthday, Melendez wrapped up a strong week which also included equaling his career high with 11 rebounds at Florida State en route to his first double-double at Georgia.
In addition against Mercer, Jabri Abdur-Rahim and Silas Demary Jr. both chipped in 13 points, Justin Hill added 11 and Russel Tchewa posted 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
Georgia connected on two season-high shooting percentages from the field, knocking down 52.5 percent overall and an even more impressive 53.3 percent from 3-point range.
“We had a 24-hour prep for this game,” head coach Mike White said. “There’s a lot of pride our guys played with down the stretch to gut one out. I thought our focus and energy level in the shootaround was pretty good. Yesterday, we did hardly anything. Some of those guys didn’t get in bed until four in the morning from coming back to town a couple of nights ago. I was really pleased with our first-half effort overall. We weren’t overly sharp defensively, but I thought we were really sharp offensively in the first 20. "
Jackets Are Georgia’s Second-Most Frequent Foe
Georgia and Georgia Tech will face off for the 199th time on Tuesday, the second-most games for the Bulldogs against any opponent.
The only school Georgia has played more than Tech is Florida, with 227 all-time outings. Trailing the Jackets and rounding out the top-5 in games against the Bulldogs are Auburn with 197, Tennessee with 160, and Kentucky with 159.
Abdur-Rahim Already Among Best-Ever Bulldogs At The Line
Jabri Abdur-Rahim has already joined Georgia’s top-10 career leaders in free throw percentage and is well within reach of the best single-season leaders ledger.
Abdur-Rahim has made 161-of-198 FTs while at Georgia, a sizzling 81.3 percent.
With a minimum of 125 made free throws needed to be featured among UGA’s career FT percentage leaders, Abdur-Rahim is currently No. 5 all-time among Bulldogs as outlined to the right.
Abdur-Rahim has connected on 41-of-46 free throws this season, a stellar 89.1 percent conversion rate.
A minimum of 50 made FTs is required for inclusion on single-season ledger. In eight games, Abdur-Rahim already is 84 percent of the way to that standard. His current percentage would rank third at UGA behind Channing Toney (.910 in 2004-05) and Joe Ward (.902 in 1983-84).
UGA Career FT Percentage Leaders
Rk. Player Pct.
1. J.J. Frazier .841
2. Dick McIntosh .831
3. Juwan Parker .828
4. Jerry Epling .822
5. Jabri Abdur-Rahim .813
Bulldogs Bench Bounces Back
After being outperformed in the season opener, Georgia’s reserves have done considerably better since. Oregon outscored Georgia in bench points, 28-22. The Bulldogs have won the “bench battle” in every game since and now sport a +79 scoring margin – a 85-point swing (12.1 ppg).
BEWARE: Barking Bench Means Bulldogs May Bite
Getting “three stops in a row” is an extremely popular analytical indicator quoted by basketball coaches competing on just about every level. At Georgia, a sequence of three stops in a row is recorded as a “bite” for the Bulldogs.
If you notice various members of the bench barking loudly while Georgia is on the defensive end of the floor, that indicates that the Bulldogs have already posted two consecutive defensive stops and are just shy of taking a “bite” out of their opponent’s offensive efforts.
A Challenging Slate Out Of The Gate
Georgia is the only Power conference team to open the 2023-24 season with back-to-back outings against other Power conference programs. The Bulldogs began the year against Oregon in a Naismith Hall of Fame Series date at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas before hosting Wake Forest.
The Power heavy schedule didn’t stop there.
Georgia played four of its first five, five of its first seven and six of its first nine games against Power conference foes.
Georgia faced Miami, a 2023 Final Four participant, in the opening round of the Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas Championship followed by Providence, another NCAA Tournament team last March.
The Bulldogs other two Power conference dates in non-conference action are both versus ACC competition – a 68-66 win over Florida State on Nov. 29 and versus Georgia Tech on Dec. 5.
All told, 24 of Georgia’s 31 regular-season games (.774) are against Power conference teams.
A Very “Maddening” Schedule
Georgia is not only playing Power conference teams, it’s playing really good Power conference teams – at least according to Joe Lunardi.
The Bulldogs’ 31-game regular-season slate includes 13 matchups against teams featured in the most recent edition of ESPN.com’s Bracketology. In addition, Georgia also played Oregon, Lunardi’s “first team out” of the bracket, in the season opener and defeated Eastern Kentucky, a 14th team projected into the NCAA bracket, in a preseason exhibition.
Cain, Demary Make Their Marks In Collegiate Debuts
Blue Cain and Silas Demary Jr. made key contributions for Georgia in their collegiate debuts against Oregon in the Naismith Hall of Fame Classic.
Demary became the first true freshman to get a starting nod for the Bulldogs in a season opener since Anthony Edwards in 2019. The Raleigh, N.C., native produced a thorough linescore of eight points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Cain became the first true freshman to notch a double-digit scoring output in the season opener since Edwards and Sahvir Wheeler did so in 2019. Cain posted 12 points off the bench by connecting on 5-of-11 shots from the field and matched Demary for the team high with two steals.
Georgia Signs Top-10 Prospect Asa Newell
Georgia opened the NCAA’s early signing period with a bang on Nov. 6 when the Bulldogs signed Asa Newell, the No. 8 overall prospect in the 247Sports.com composite rankings for the Class of 2024.
Newell is the fifth top-100 prospect to sign with Georgia in the last two classes.
The younger brother of current Bulldog Jaden Newell, Asa is a 6-10, 215-pound power forward and a consensus five-star recruit. Asa is the second-highest ESPN.com and third-highest 247Sports.com ranked recruit to sign with Georgia during the internet era. He trails only Anthony Edwards (No. 4 in 2019) on the ESPN.com ledger and only Edwards (No. 2) and Lou Williams (No.6 in 2005) in the 247Sports.com composite. Edwards went on to become the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, while Williams elected to turn pro and has enjoyed a 17-year NBA career that includes three NBA Sixth Man of the Year awards.
Newell was a member of USA National Teams for FIBA World Cup tournaments during the past two summers, helping the USA capture a Gold Medal at the 2022 U17 tourney in Malaga, Spain and finish fourth at the 2023 U19 event in Debrecen, Hungary.
Newell is in his second season at Montverde Academy in Montverde, Fla., which finished No. 2 in the SCNext Top 25 national rankings last season and is currently ranked No. 1 this season.
Both Packs of New Bulldogs Highly Rated
Georgia was one of three programs with both its freshman and transfer recruiting classes ranked among the nation’s top-20 groups by On3.com. The Bulldogs’ five transfer were tabbed as at No. 11, while the freshmen were featured at No. 18.
All four of Georgia’s freshmen were rated as top-100 prospects in the Class of 2023 by various recruiting services. The highest rankings were: Blue Cain at No. 53 by On3.com, Silas Demary Jr. at No. 56 by Rivals.com, Dylan James at No. 78 in the 247Sports.com and Mari Jordan at No. 87 by ESPN.com.
As a class, the freshman were ranked No. 11 by Rivals.com, No. 15 in the 247Sports.com composite, No. 18 by On3.com and No. 20 by 247Sports.com. Georgia’s freshmen were the second-highest ranked class in the SEC 247Sports.com’s composite ledger of the average ranking of those recruiting services. Ten of 14 SEC schools were ranked among the nation’s top-50 freshman classes in the 247Sports.com composite.
A “March Madness” Pedigree
Seven Georgia players have played in the NCAA Tournament at previous schools.
Third-year Bulldog Jabri Abdur-Rahim was a member of Virginia’s roster in 2021 when the Cavaliers won the ACC regular-season title en route to March Madness.
Frank Anselem-Ibe, Justin Hill and Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe, who are in their second seasons in Athens, also reached the Big Dance. Anselem-Ibe helped Syracuse reach the 2021 Sweet 16. Hill led Longwood to the 2022 tournament. Moncrieffe played in the 2021 NCAA Tournament while at Syracuse.
Georgia newcomers Jalen DeLoach, RJ Melendez and RJ Sunahara bring NCAA Tournament experience as well. DeLoach helped VCU earn an NCAA bid last spring. Melendez was on Illinois teams that reached the 2022 and 2023 tourneys. Sunahara played in a trio of Division II tournaments at Nova Southeastern, including the Sharks perfect 36-0 march to the 2023 national title.
In addition, Russel Tchewa’s Texas Tech team was on the NCAA bubble in 2020 before the championship was canceled due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sunahara Takes One For the Team...accepts new nickname
It’s not uncommon for basketball teams to have multiple players with the same first name, but that usually occurs with a rather common name. When a pair of “RJ’s” transferred to Georgia during the offseason, it left the coaching staff scratching their heads.
“We’re going to have to figure this out,” Mike White quipped to the media when discussing the Bulldogs’ summer trip to Italy.
It didn’t take long for RJ Sunahara to become “Sunny”...at least while he’s on the basketball court. Even though his name is pronounced “soon-ah-hara,” the 2023 Division II National Player of the Year is now “Sunny.” Actually, the nickname fits quite well with Sunahara’s Hawaiian heritage.
Bulldogs Tops A-Sun Favorite EKU In Exhibition
Six Bulldogs scored in double figures at Georgia defeated Eastern Kentucky, 99-82, in an exhibition game benefiting the American Red Cross at Stegeman Coliseum on Oct. 30.
EKU returns four starters and 11 letterwinners from a 23-14. The Colonels are the preseason favorite of both media and coaches to win the Atlantic Sun Conference this season and have been a consistent member of ESPN’s Bracketology throughout the summer and preseason.
RJ Melendez Georgia with 21 points and added nine rebounds, while Russell Tchewa notched a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. In addition, Noah Thomasson added 15 points and Jabri Abdur-Rahim, Blue Cain and Silas Demary Jr. all chipped in 12.
As a team, Georgia shot 54.8 percent from the field.
“I thought we did some good things and we’ve got a lot to work on,” head coach Mike White said. “I was very pleased with their tenacity defensively, and progression and tempo offensively. It was a really fast-paced game.”
Georgia opened the game with a 6-0 surge 73 seconds into the contest and lead throughout the entire opening half. The Bulldogs kept the Colonels at bay, ending the half on a 13-3 run and carrying a 21-point lead headed into the locker room. From there, Georgia controlled the second half and was ahead by as many as 24 points.
Forza Dogs...Georgia’s Tour Of Italy
Georgia got a jump on preparations for the 2023-24 season during the summer when the Bulldogs ventured to Italy for a three-game international tour from July 20-29.
On the the hardwood, Georgia defeated different teams from the Italian Club Orange Basket Bassano by 39.3 points per game. Each Bulldog dressed out for two of the three games, with nine different players recording one or more double-figure scoring outputs.
Away from basketball, Georgia spent four days in Rome, one day in Florence and two days in Sorrento. The team toured the traditional sites such as Vatican City, The Colosseum, The Forum, Pompeii, Amalfi and Positano. The Bulldogs also enjoyed a cooking class where they prepared – and then dined on – their own pasta and tiramisu.
We believe that Georgia Basketball’s family tree may be the most athletic in the country. Almost every Bulldog has immediate family who competed at the collegiate or professional levels, including:
Jabri Abdur-Rahim – his dad, Shareef, was a 2000 Olympic Gold Medalist, 2002 NBA All-Star and current president of the NBA’s G League; and five of his uncles (Amir, Muhammad, Tahir, Bilal and Malik) played college basketball.
Blue Cain – his mom, the former Myriah Lonergan, played basketball at George Washington and is in GWU’s Athletic Hall of Fame; his dad, Chris, played golf at Duke; and his sister, Sophie, is a senior setter on Appalachian State’s volleyball team.
Jalen DeLoach – his brother, Kalen, is in his third season as a starting linebacker at Florida State; and his sister, Taylor, was a Big Ten champion in the 400-meter relay at Ohio State.
Silas Demary Jr. – his dad, Silas Sr., played at Virginia State and was the 2005 Arena Football League Defensive Player of the Year for the L.A. Avengers.
Justin Hill – his dad, Keith, played basketball at Michigan State and New Mexico State, where he helped the Aggies reach the NCAA Tourney; his mom, the former Donna Holt, played basketball at Virginia, where she was 1988 ACC Player of the Year and was named to the ACC’s Silver Anniversary team in 2002;
Dylan James – his brother, Dorian, is a redshirt senior of North Florida’s basketball team; and two additional siblings – brother Darius and sister Charla – played basketball at Lynn University.
Markel Jennings – is distant cousins on his dad’s side with NFL players Vernon and Vontae Davis, who both were multiple Pro Bowl selections.
Brandon Klatsky – his dad, Brian, played college basketball at DIII Skidmore; and his brother, Alex, is a redshirt senior on Florida’s basketball team.
Jaden Newell – his brother, Asa, the No. 8 overall prospect in 247Sports.com Class of 2024 composite rankings, has signed to join him in Athens next season.
RJ Sunahara – his dad, Reed, was a two-time All-American in volleyball at UCLA and is the current women’s volleyball coach at West Virginia; his mom, the former Laura Rekstis, played volleyball at Cincinnati; his grandfather, Peter Rekstis, played football at Cincinnati; his uncle, Chet Moeller, played football at Navy and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
Noah Thomasson – his dad, Leon, played football at Texas Southern and for the Atlanta Falcons; and he’s distant cousins with Spud Webb on his mom’s size.