NCAA Hoops Preview - Georgia

Following a triumphant performance in the Pac-10 tournament, the Washington Huskies now will be in the thick of March Madness when they take on the Georgia Bulldogs in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The game will start at 6:45 p.m. PST from Charlotte, N.C. It will be aired live on CBS.

Georgia, who lost to Alabama in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament, is 21-11 overall, 9-7 in conference play. Their top wins came against Colorado, UAB, Kentucky and Tennessee. All 11 of their losses came against NCAA tournament teams.

Although this will be the first matchup ever between the two schools, Washington has the NCAA tournament experience advantage, their roster having played a combined 29 games to just one for the Bulldogs.

With four players playing 30 minutes or more, the Bulldogs rely heavily on their starters to win games.

Probably the most important and heralded of those starters is Trey Thompkins. The 6-foot-10, 245-pound junior forward is averaging 16.1 points per game on 47 percent shooting from the floor. He also contributes 7.5 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.1 steals. His deep game isn't extremely effective – shooting just 29 percent from beyond the 3-point line – but he isn't afraid to step out and attempt long-distance jumpers. Thompkins played for Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar when he was part of the USA select team that played against the US National Team during training in Las Vegas last summer.

"I was impressed with him as a player and a person," Romar said of Thompkins. "First thing I thought of when we...when it said we're going to play Georgia, first person I thought of was him, because immediately okay, how in the world are we going to guard him? Because he's a really good basketball player."

Next in line for scoring has been guard Travis Leslie. The 6-foot-4 junior is averaging 14.5 points a game on 50 percent shooting from the field, 80 percent from the free-throw line and 32 percent from distance. He also pulls in 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals a game. The Decatur, Ga. native is also one of the better offensive rebounders in the country with 3.2 per game, No. 51 nationally.

"Travis Leslie is a phenomenal athlete," Romar said. "He's fun to watch when you watch him play. When he's getting up and down the floor, he's so smooth, runs like a gazelle."

Starting at the point guard spot will be Gerald Robinson, a 6-foot-1 junior. A transfer from Tennessee State, Robinson is averaging 12.2 points per game on 44 percent shooting in his first season of action for the Bulldogs. He also contributes 4.2 assists and 1.3 steals a game. Robinson is turnover-prone, coughing up the ball an average of 3.1 times per contest. He has only scored in double digits two times in the last seven games. In those seven games, he has scored a total of 64 points and has had 22 turnovers.

Taking up a massive amount of space in the paint will be Jeremy Price. At 6-foot-8 and 270 pounds, the Decatur native isn't a hard player to find. In his senior season, Price has averaged 9.2 points in 23.4 minutes a game, shooting 50 percent along the way. He pulls in five rebounds a game as well. Foul trouble has been his achilles heel, as he has fouled out of four games, all of which were losses.

Rounding out Georgia's starting five will be Dustin Ware. A diminutive 5-foot-11 junior guard, Ware is more of a scorer than a passer. This season, he is averaging 8.1 points on 44 percent shooting from the field, 82 percent from the free-throw line and 44 percent from beyond the arc. He also contributes with 3.5 assists and one steal a game. Although he's not a high production guy, he doesn't make many mistakes either. Ware's 3.1 assist-to-turnover ratio is good enough for eighth nationally, and his offensive rating of 127.7 puts him 25th in the country.

Role players coming off the bench will be Chris Barnes, Sherrard Brantley and Marcus Thornton. Of note, Brantley stands out for his tendency to shoot the three ball, as 81 of his 99 attempts have been from deep.

As a team, Georgia is one of the better rebounding opponents that Washington will face this season. Forty-first nationally, the Bulldogs average 37.7 rebounds a game, good enough for a rebounding percentage of 52.6. They also average five blocks a game, with a blocking percentage of 8.9.

Their opponents have averaged just 8.9 assists per game, third lowest in the nation. However, teams also average 6.7 steals a game, which could bode well for Washington's pressure defense.

"They're physical," Romar said. "In the paint they're more than capable of playing well and competing against any team. They're well coached. They have a system that you can see that they're disciplined in. They have great quickness, and they really do a good job defending. When you have those type of ingredients in your team, you have a chance to win ball games. So we know we have a tough opponent. That's for sure."

Manning the bench for the Bulldogs is former Washington assistant Mark Fox. After securing a 123-43 record at Nevada, Fox was hired to replace Dennis Felton at Georgia. He has a 35-28 record in Athens since arriving in 2009.

"Mark is a great guy, but he's also kind of a no-nonsense guy," Romar said. "You can see that he approaches everything he does with a purpose, and he's a heck of a coach. He's done really well. He's come up through the ranks and did a great job at Nevada and now here at Georgia. You can see that he has them playing the right way. I'm really impressed with how Mark goes about handling his business."

Fox was hired by then-UW Head Coach Lynn Nance back in 1991 as an assistant. A lot has transpired since. "You know, my time at Washington was nearly two decades ago, which seems strange to say that, but it was a time when I learned a lot about the profession and about college basketball and have fond memories of my experience," Fox said Thursday.

The winner of this game will advance to the third round to play the winner of the North Carolina-Long Island University game. The third round matchup will take place on Sunday.


Dawgman.com Top Stories