Georgia will look to improve to 6-0 in its toughest test when it welcomes the Cincinnati Bearcats to Athens, Ga., for a non-league game on Saturday.
Georgia’s five wins are against Florida A&M, North Georgia, Jacksonville, Montana and Samford. Cincinnati is 2-3 but has played a much more difficult schedule, considering its losses are to Xavier, then-No. 12 Tennessee and South Florida. The Bearcats have beaten Lipscomb and Furman.
The Bulldogs, a member of the Southeastern Conference, will turn to Sahvir Wheeler, who has emerged as their top player. Wheeler, who averages a team-high 14.8 points and 8.6 assists per game, has either made or assisted on 46 percent of all of Georgia’s field goals this season.
He’s complemented by five teammates who also average double figures in scoring — Toumani Camara (14.3 ppg), Justin Kier (11.8), Andrew Garcia (11.4), Tye Fagan (10.4) and P.J. Horne (10).
In Georgia’s last game — a 79-75 home victory over Samford — the visitors had a chance to pull even with less than 20 seconds remaining, but Triston Chambers and Christian Guess missed from short range before Kier grabbed the rebound for Georgia, drew a foul and made a free throw for a 76-73 lead. Kier missed his second free throw, but Horne secured the rebound and scored, extending the Georgia advantage to 78-73.
“Our guys are finding ways to adjust and that’s really, really important,” Georgia coach Tom Crean told reporters after his team defeated Samford. “We don’t have that one guy that you know on any given night is going to go out there and get you 20, 25, 30. It’s got to come more collectively. We had five guys in double figures tonight. We found a way to rebound. We got to the foul line. That’s how the team’s got to be built.”
Cincinnati, which is coming off a 74-71 loss to South Florida in its American Athletic Conference opener on Wednesday, is fueled by seniors Keith Williams (14.6 ppg), Chris Vogt (9.0 ppg) and David DeJulius (9.4 ppg), who have collectively accounted for 48.3 percent of all Bearcats’ points this season.
Against South Florida, Tari Eason made a 3-pointer with 41 seconds remaining to pull the Bearcats to 73-71 before South Florida’s Michael Durr made a three throw and Cincinnati’s Jeremiah Davenport missed a game-tying 3-pointer in the final seconds.
“Our inability to be tough — we’re plugging one hole and another hole is opening,” Cincinnati coach John Brannen told reporters after his team lost to the Bulls. “That’s a sign of a mediocre team. If we’re going to become a really good team, we have to foundationally get some things fixed first.”
–Field Level Media