The top-ranked team in the nation finally hits the road for the first time this season, as the Indiana Hoosiers meet up with the Georgia Bulldogs at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the semifinals of the Progressive Legends Classic
The Hoosiers and head coach Tom Crean have had a very easy go of it so far in 2012-13 with defeats of three opponents by no less than 26 points. The squad topped Bryant in the opener on Nov. 9 by a score of 97-54, then took out North Dakota State last Monday, 87-61, before dismantling Sam Houston State also at Assembly Hall in a lopsided 99-45 final four days ago.
Georgia head coach Mark Fox hasn't had nearly as much good play from his Bulldogs in the early going. Granted, the team did post a 68-62 victory over Jacksonville in the season opener, but then the program was downed by Youngstown State by double digits and then also fell to Southern Miss in overtime last Thursday, 62-60.
The Hoosiers have claimed victory in all three of the previous encounters between these two teams, the most recent of those coming in New Orleans during the 1976 Sugar Bowl Classic Tournament by a score of 74-52.
The winner of this meeting will go up against the survivor of the Georgetown/UCLA matchup for the title on Tuesday.
Against Sam Houston State a few days back, it wasn't even close as the Hoosiers held the visitors to just 16-of-53 (.302) shooting form the floor and 5-of-26 (.192) beyond the arc, not to mention forcing the Bearkats into 19 turnovers. Five players scored in double figures for Indiana, led by Christian Watford who actually came off the bench to tally 23 points, shooting a perfect 10- of-10 at the free-throw line. Will Sheehey accounted for 18 points, Victor Oladipo 14 and seven boards, followed by Cody Zeller and Jordan Hulls with 13 and 10 points, respectively, as the pair combined for 12 rebounds and nine assists. Even though he is averaging just 25 minutes per game, Zeller is making the most of his time on the floor with his 17.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, both of which pace the Hoosiers at the moment. Zeller has made just 11-of-20 at the free-throw line in three games, but he has easily made up for that with his staggering 75.0 percent from the field. Watford is second in both scoring (14.7 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 rpg) and in his case being at the charity stripe is extremely comfortable, since he's missed just one of his 21 attempts.
Georgia trailed by as many as 12 points with about 12 minutes remaining in regulation against Southern Miss, but the team was able to make it into an extra five-minute session before conceding in the two-point final at Stegeman Coliseum. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the way for the Bulldogs with his 17 points, adding six rebounds, five assists and three steals, but his point total did come at a steep cost. Caldwell-Pope shot only 5-of-21 from the floor in the outing, including 3-of-14 behind the three-point line, as the team shot a mere 38.5 percent from the floor and 9-of-30 on the perimeter. To make matters worse, Georgia also missed 10 of 21 free-throw attempts which means a potential win was easily within reach. Nemanja Djurisic accounted for 12 points as the only other double-digit scorer for the unit. As a group, over the first three games when they haven't even been able to send out the same starting lineup, the Bulldogs are shooting just 37.0 percent from the field and 29.2 percent on the perimeter. Caldwell-Pope may pace the program with 20.3 ppg, but he's a big reason for the team's dismal shooting as he makes just 35.3 percent of his field goals.