Georgia opened the 2011-12 campaign with three consecutive home wins over Wofford, Bowling Green and South Dakota State, but a 70-46 loss to nationally- ranked California in Kansas City, Missouri in the semifinals of the CBE Classic humbled the team a bit before it posted a 61-57 win over Notre Dame to close that event and improve to 4-1 on the year. Hoping to make some noise in the SEC this year, the Bulldogs will be a battled-tested bunch by the time league play begins against Alabama on January 7, 2012, as following this bout, they will face Colorado, Cincinnati, Georgia Tech and USC in succession.
Xavier is putting the wraps on a season-opening, four-game home stand tonight, and is 3-0 to this point after beating Morgan State, IPFW and Miami-Ohio to kick things off. This is the first of two straight games against a team from the SEC for the Musketeers, who head to Nashville on Monday to tangle with the 18th-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores. Games against Purdue, Butler and Cincinnati will follow, and the hope is the team will be ideally prepared as it gets set to embark on another grueling Atlantic 10 Conference schedule.
Georgia and Xavier are meeting for the fourth time tonight, with the Musketeers laying claim to a 2-1 series advantage. XU won in Athens last year, taking a 65-57 decision.
Georgia is fortunate to be three games over .500 at the moment, as the team is averaging just 60.8 ppg in hitting 39 percent of its field goal attempts, which includes a dismal 28.6 percent effort from three-point range. Fortunately, the Bulldogs have played exceptional defense, yielding a mere 58.2 ppg with foes shooting just 39.1 percent from the floor, 26.0 percent from beyond the arc, and 64.3 percent from the foul line. Kentavious Caldwell- Pope and Gerald Robinson are the only two players currently averaging double digits in the scoring column, netting 13.2 and 11.4 ppg, respectively. Fellow starters Marcus Thornton and Donte' Williams head the team's rebounding effort with a combined 13.2 rpg. Georgia is coming off its best three-point shooting performance of the young season, having drained 12-of-26 treys (.462) in the narrow win over Notre Dame. Caldwell-Pope hit four triples to lead the team with 16 points, and the Bulldogs put the clamps on the Fighting Irish by allowing them to hit just 34.4 percent of their total shots, and only 4-of-20 long-range tries (.200).
Xavier is a much better offensive team than its counterpart tonight, as the Musketeers are shooting 49.4 percent from the field, which includes a 43.2 percent showing from three-point land. As a result, the team is putting up 75.3 ppg and boasts three players averaging double digits after three games, led by Mark Lyons and his 20.3 ppg. Tu Holloway is next with 16.5 ppg and Dezmine Wells adds 12.0 ppg. Kenny Frease is close to joining the group as he nets 9.7 ppg, and he along with Wells lead XU's work on the glass with 5.3 rpg apiece. The Musketeers are also getting it done at the defensive end of the court, permitting just 62.0 ppg on 35.1 percent field goal efficiency, which includes a meager 27.6 percent showing from downtown. Lyons was high man once again in Xavier's 66-60 win over Miami-Ohio last week, scoring 18 points after hitting 7-of-13 field goal attempts, and Frease tallied 13 points and seven boards. Holloway knocked down just 3-of-12 shots to finish with nine points, but he dished out seven assists for the Musketeers, who won the game despite missing seven of their nine three-point tries.