Jan. 16, 2002
How tough is life in the Southeastern Conference this season?
That two teams included among the nation's top-25 square off is nothing out of the ordinary. After all, seven SEC teams have been ranked during most of the campaign. What is somewhat abnormal is that each team sports a 1-2 record in SEC play.
Georgia travels Auburn looking to end an uncharacteristic two-game losing skid, while the Tigers hope to build momentum after capturing their first league win last weekend. UGA and AU sport two of the league's richest traditions in women's basketball, and Andy Landers looks for another intense battle tonight.
"With Auburn, you're talking about what you always talk about with Auburn," Landers said. "They're a very good defensive basketball team, one that relies heavily on the 1-2-2 matchup zone. They do a great job on the offensive boards, are very athletic and quick on the perimeter. For our basketball team to be successful, we're going to have to find answers for all those things."
A Mark We Can Do Without
The Lady Dogs will be looking to prevent a rare three-game losing streak tonight after dropping consecutive games to No. 9 South Carolina and Mississippi State last week.
Only three times during Andy Landers' 23 seasons at Georgia have the Lady Dogs lost three straight games.
The Lady Bulldogs' most recent such skid came in the first three games of the 1991-92 campaign when Georgia fell, in succession, to No. 7 Stanford, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Ohio State.
At the end 1988-89 season, UGA dropped decisions to LSU and No. 1 Auburn to end the regular season and fell to No. 12 Ole Miss in the first round of the SEC Tournament. In 1979-80, Landers first in Athens, Georgia lost in a row to Georgia Southern, Ole Miss and Mercer.
Oddly, though the Lady Dogs have never had a four-game losing streak under Landers, they have had a five-game SEC regular-season losing streak.
During Georgia's 1982-83 campaign, the Lady Dogs lost five SEC dates during an 11-game stretch.
Georgia lost to No. 7 Tennessee on Jan. 16 before defeating East Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia State out of conference. The Lady Dogs then fell to No. 7 Kentucky on Jan. 30 in overtime but rebounded to knock off Eastern Kentucky. Then, a setback to Vanderbilt on Feb. 6 was followed by wins at Tennessee Tech and Chattanooga.
Georgia next fell to No. 6 Tennessee and No. 14 Auburn on Feb. 12 and 14, respectively, before ending the slide with a 99-81 win over No. 8 Kentucky on Feb. 20.
The Lady Dogs regrouped and eventually advanced to the NCAA Final Four that season - the first of Georgia's five Final Four berths.
Lady Bulldogs Lead Series
Largely due to winning eight of the last nine meetings, Georgia enters tonight with a 16-11 edge in its all-time series with Auburn.
The Lady Bulldogs and the Tigers have long been two of the premier teams in the Southeastern Conference and the nation.
Georgia owns seven league titles, while Auburn can claim four. Both schools have won four SEC Tourneys. The Lady Dogs reached five Final Fours compared to the Tigers' three. Auburn has reached the national championship game three times and Georgia has done so twice.
The driving forces behind such similar success are two coaches who, like their programs, mirror each other somewhat.
Andy Landers, a four-time National Coach of the Year, and Joe Ciampi, a three-time honoree, were hired as the head coaches at Georgia and Auburn, respectively, in the spring of 1979. More than two decades later, they remain loyal to those same employers and also are among the winningest coaches in the game.
Between them, Landers and Ciampi have combined to win 1,077 games for Georgia and Auburn.
A year ago in Athens, the Lady Dogs captured a 77-60 win behind a 14-point, 14-rebound effort by Tawana McDonald. Georgia led by five at halftime despite shooting just 32.4 percent from the field, but guards Coco Miller, Kelly Miller and Kiesha Brown scored all the points in a 9-1 run to open the second stanza which gave the Lady Dogs control.
A complete box score from that meeting - as well as game-by-game results from the series - can be found on Page 4 of these Game Notes.
In its most recent trip to Auburn two years ago, Georgia jumped on the Tigers early en route to a 68-54 win. Current senior Camille Murphy chipped in nine points on a trio of first-half threes, the second of which gave the Lady Dogs a 17-point lead with 8:16 left in the period.
That victory was Georgia's fourth straight at Beard-Eaves Coliseum and improved the Lady Dogs' record to 5-5 at the facility.
The Silver Platter Treatment
A quick glance at the Southeastern Conference's team stats for league teams only would leave one amazed by Georgia's 1-2 start.
The Lady Bulldogs are the only team in the conference to connect on better than 50 percent of their field goals versus SEC opposition, while Georgia ranks second in the league in field goal defense versus the same SEC teams.
Further review reveals the root of most of the evil beset upon the young Lady Dogs. Georgia is averaging 21.3 turnovers in three SEC dates. After giving the ball away just 15 times against LSU, Georgia handed it to South Carolina 27 times and followed with 22 TOs at Mississippi State.
"The record is disappointing, and our version of how we've arrived at that record is disappointing," Andy Landers said. "We feel like things could be different had we not had as many unforced turnovers. We've turned the ball over excessively, and it has really hurt us.
"On the other hand, we've played hard," Landers continued. "We've played reasonable well most of the time both offensively and defensively. We've shot the ball well. We've rebounded well. We've played good defense. I think we're a basketball team that, as I said before the season started, is going to continue to improve and develop and play its best basketball sometime in the next month."
What? We Scored 81 And Lost?
It took the greatest single-game performance by a Lady Bulldog opponent to displace one of the greatest statistical indicators in all of sports.
Last Sunday, LaToya Thomas poured in 43 points - the most ever by a Georgia opponent - to lead Mississippi State to an 84-82 win over UGA.
The setback slightly lowered Georgia's astronomical winning record when the Lady Dogs have scored more than 80 points under Andy Landers. Semantically speaking, that means 81 points or more, but "more than 80" is a whole lot easier to say.
It had been nearly a decade since UGA lost a contest when it scored more than 80 points. Prior to Sunday, the most recent instance was a 105-81 setback to No. 20 Alabama back on Feb. 29, 1992.
The Lady Dogs are now 333-5 when they've scored more than 80 points under Landers - a winning percentage of 98.52071. That's a slippage of all of .29234 percent.
"M.B."..."Eb"...If You See This
Please Look Away Very Quickly
In the ultimate guarantee to jinx a hot shooter, please note the following stellar stats by Lady Bulldogs Mary Beth Lycett and Ebony Felder.
Lycett has been on a tear since just before the opening of SEC play. Dating back to the Dec. 30 VCU game, Lycett has connected on 18-of-32 (.563) shots from behind the three-point arc in the last six games. She currently leads the SEC in three-pointers per game in league action at 3.67 and ranks third in three-point field goal percentage at .550 (11-of-20).
The only players ranked ahead of Lycett are tied at 1.000 but barely meet the SEC's minimum average of threes made (1.0).
Felder has been hot from both the field and the line of late. The redshirt freshman is a perfect 11-of-11 from the charity stripe in SEC games and has hit her last 13 free throws. Felder was 8-of-11 from the line versus VCU, making her 19-of-22 (.864) in the last six outings.
In addition, Felder has hit 14-of-24 (.583) shots from the field in SEC games. Tracking T-Mac & Camille
Seniors Tawana McDonald and Camille Murphy have ascended among Georgia's career statistical leaders this season and their progress is likely to continue during the rest of the campaign.
In the season opener, T-Mac supplanted Lisa O'Connor in the No. 8 spot among Georgia's career rebounding leaders.
During a Dec. 1 victory over UNLV, McDonald moved past Saudia Roundtree into the No. 20 spot among the Lady Dogs' career scoring leaders.
The following day, while playing her 100th game in a Georgia uniform, T-Mac swatted six shots versus Cal to pass Tracy Henderson and inch into the No. 2 slot on the career blocked shots ledger.
In a Jan. 7 win over Morris Brown, Murphy knocked down her only three-point attempt of the evening to move into a tie with Miriam Lowe for the No. 8 spot among the Lady Dogs' career leaders in made trifectas at 67.
McDonald's progress is certain to soon continue as outlined below:
* McDonald, with 279 blocks, is only 11 swats away from breaking Katrina McClain's Lady Bulldog career record of 290.
* McDonald, with 1,108 points, is three away from Pam Irwin-Osbolt and the No. 19 career scoring spot.
* McDonald, with 807 rebounds, is 16 boards off of the current No. 7 tally of Tracy Henderson.
Youngsters Leading The Way
The youthful Lady Bulldogs, whose 13-player roster includes seven freshmen, have been led by their younger standouts.
A freshman currently leads the Lady Dogs in scoring (Kara Braxton at 16.2), rebounding (Braxton at 7.3), blocked shots (Braxton at 2.6), steals (Whitney Law at 1.7) and minutes (Ebony Felder at 24.5).
In addition, five of Georgia's top-seven scorers are freshmen or sophomores, and first- or second-year players have garnered 60 percent of the starting spots in 15 games.
Younger players have contributed in every stat. All told, freshmen and sophomores have compiled better than 70 percent of Georgia's points, individual rebounds and blocks, more than 60 percent of its steals and minutes played and over 55 percent of the team's assists.