WBB Sport Notes: Georgia Heads to Lubbock to Face Texas Tech

WBB Sport Notes: Georgia Heads to Lubbock to Face Texas Tech

   

Opening Tip

 

  • Georgia travels to Lubbock, Texas this Thursday to face Texas Tech in the Lady Bulldogs’ first true road contest of the season.
  • Tip time for the SEC/Big-12 matchup is slated for 11 a.m. CT/noon ET at the United Super Markets Arena. The game will air nationally on ESPNU, while Jeff Dantzler has the call on the Georgia Bulldog Sports Network.
  • This marks the Lady Bulldogs’ farthest trip from home since playing at UCLA on Nov. 14, 2018. The distance between Athens and Lubbock is 1,198 miles.
  • Georgia and Texas Tech have met just once prior to Thursday’s contest. That matchup came on Dec. 14, 1984 in the Mid-America Classic (Columbia, Mo.). Behind 23 points and 12 rebounds from Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer Janet Harris, the Lady Bulldogs defeated the Red Raiders 80-68. Georgia went on to finish the year with a 30-3 record on its way to a NCAA runner-up finish.
  • The Lady Bulldogs are in the midst of a tough stretch of games. Beginning with Notre Dame on Nov. 26 and running through Dec. 16 at No. 2 NC State, Georgia’s six opponents boast a current combined record of 32-8 (that includes the Notre Dame and Marquette losses to Georgia).
  • Georgia is looking to start a season 7-0 for the second-straight year and for the third time overall under head coach Joni Taylor.
  • The Lady Bulldogs cracked the Associated Press top-25 this week at No. 20 overall. Georgia has now been ranked in 543 editions of the AP poll.
  • Georgia has played stifling defense, holding four of its first six opponents to their season-lows in scoring. The Irish came into last Friday’s game averaging over 85 points per contest and was held to just 67. Marquette was averaging 72 ppg and scored 45 against the Lady Bulldogs.
  • Joni Taylor‘s team leads the SEC in most defensive categories, including scoring defense (48.8 ppg), field-goal pct. defense (29.5 percent), 3-point field goal pct. defense (18.7 percent) and blocks (8.5 per game).
  • The Lady Bulldogs’ bench has outscored opponents by a 192-61 margin — an average of 22 points per game.
  • Thursday’s matchup will be a homecoming for Georgia Senior Deputy AD Darrice Griffin. A native of Seagraves, Texas, Griffin was a standout basketball student-athlete at Texas Tech, graduating in 2007 with cum laude honors in psychology. She was a four-time recipient of the Texas Tech Student-Athlete Merit Award, a two-time Academic All-Big 12 Conference honoree and was named an Arthur Ashe Sports Scholar in 2007. Griffin comes from an elite basketball family. Her mother, Tami Wilson, played at Texas Tech from 1990-92 and her sister, Teddy, also played for the Lady Raiders from 2005-08.

Scouting the Opponent: Texas Tech

The Red Raiders are in their second season under the leadership of head coach Krista Gerlich. Texas Tech boasts a 6-1 record, with the lone loss coming to Old Dominion. The team has been without the services of Vivian Gray — one of the best players in the country who was a honorable-mention All-America selection a year ago. There has been no timetable set for Gray’s return. Rhyle McKinney leads her squad with 13.7 points per game.

Daytona Sweep

Georgia swept the Daytona Invitational and improved to 4-0 all-time in the event with wins against No. 24 Notre Dame and Marquette. A host of characters led Georgia as the Lady Bulldogs had 11 players contribute against Notre Dame and 13 versus Marquette.

Bench Advantage

Georgia’s bench has outscored its opponents by a 192-61 margin, an average of 22 points per game, this season. Every available player has touched the floor in four of the team’s six games overall.

Bulldog Block Party

The Lady Bulldogs set a new school record with 18 blocks in the win against Alabama State on Nov. 21. That total broke a 34-year old record from 1987, when Georgia had 16 against Mercer. The Lady Bulldogs’ 18 swats are tied for the second-most in a game in SEC history.

Healthy Margins

In addition to leading the SEC in nearly every defensive category, Georgia has not allowed an opponent to hit 40 percent from the floor this season. The Lady Bulldogs have also forced 20 or more turnovers four times, while four of six opponents have failed to score over 50 points. Georgia also leads the SEC in scoring margin this season at plus-27.

Que Nearing 1,000

Graduate guard Que Morrison needs just 35 points to become the 42nd Lady Bulldog in school history to reach 1,000 career points. She will join teammate Jenna Staiti, who earned that distinction during last year’s SEC tournament win against Kentucky.

Double-Double Nicholson

Junior forward Javyn Nicholson has already matched her career double-double mark with two this season. She scored 13 points and brought down a then career-best 12 rebounds in the season-opener against Gardner-Webb, marking her first double-double since 2019. She then scored 13 pts. and brought down a new career high 13 rebs. against Alabama State.

UGA Seniors Earn Degrees

For the second-straight year, each of Georgia’s seniors have already earned their college degrees. Malury Bates (sociology), Mikayla Coombs (sport management), Que Morrison (communication studies) and Jenna Staiti (human development and family science) have all graduated from the University of Georgia.

Georgia Inks Elite Signing Class

Georgia’s 2022 Signing Class is ranked No. 7 nationally according to ESPN. Janiah Barker and Sydney Bowles, two of the highest rated players in the nation, will join talented point guard product Tineya Hylton in Georgia’s incoming class.

Barker – who is considered the No.1-ranked forward nationally and among the top-3 players overall — is a native of Marietta, Ga. She currently preps at Montverde Academy in Florida. Bowles – a consensus top-10 guard prospect — is from Lithonia, Ga., and plays at Woodward Academy. They will begin their collegiate careers during the 2022-23 campaign.

Hylton prepped at Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tenn., before going back to Canada to play at Royal Crown Academic School in Toronto, Ontario. She will join the Lady Bulldogs this season.

Staiti Moves Into Top-5

Jenna Staiti now ranks fifth in school history with 220 career blocks. Tawana McDonald owns the program record with 297 swats during her time at Georgia. Staiti is also the SEC’s active career leader in blocks.

Offensive Improvement

Head Coach Joni Taylor and her staff implemented a new offensive philosophy prior to the 2020-21 season with the goal of playing a more up-tempo style with defensive pressure.

That move has paid dividends. Since last season, Georgia has scored over 90 points four times. The Lady Bulldogs scored over 90 points just four times combined in the five seasons prior.

Georgia Picked Fourth in SEC, No. 19 in National Poll


SEC coaches voted the Lady Bulldogs fourth in the annual preseason poll, just behind South Carolina, Texas A&M and Tennessee. Georgia came in at No. 19 in the national preseason coaches poll. Last season, the Lady Bulldogs finished ranked No. 10 in the Associated Press top-25 — its highest ranking going into the NCAA tournament since 2001.

Exceeding Expectations

Coach Taylor’s teams have lived by the mantra ‘It’s not where you start but where you finish.’ In five of her first six seasons, the Lady Bulldogs have finished well ahead of their preseason ranking. The largest jumps came in 2017-18 — when Georgia was picked eighth and finished second — and last season — when the team was picked ninth and finished fourth.

Georgia’s SEC Standings Under Joni Taylor

 











Georgia’s SEC Standings Under Joni Taylor
Season Preseason Rank SEC Finish
2015-16 9th 6th
2016-17 12th 8th
2017-18 8th 2nd (tied)
2018-19 4th 7th
2019-20 10th 9th
2020-21 9th 4th

Staiti’s Streak Continues

Jenna Staiti has become known as ‘Steady Staiti’ over the last two seasons — and for good reason.
The Cumming, Ga., native has scored in double figures in 37 of her last 43 games with 14 double-doubles and nine 20-plus point efforts. It is a remarkable stat line for the All-SEC center, especially when you look back to her first two years of college basketball.
During her freshman and sophomore campaigns, Staiti averaged 4.4 ppg and 1.7 rpg in 65 total games played. Staiti has now more than tripled her points per game average to 13.2 ppg and upped her rebounds to 7.3 per contest over the past three years.

Defense Travels

Georgia has become one of the top defensive teams in the SEC during Coach Taylor’s tenure. In her six seasons leading the program, the Lady Bulldogs have finished either first or second in the conference in scoring defense on three occasions, including a league-best and school record 54.1 ppg in 2015-16. Last year, Georgia ranked second in the SEC, holding opponents to 60.5 ppg. The team also finished top-5 in most defensive categories, including field-goal percentage defense, 3-point field-goal percentage defense and turnovers forced.

Not Just Defense For Morrison

Que Morrison is known as one of the top defenders in the nation as she routinely guards the opponent’s top player night-in and night-out. Last year, Morrison led all players in conference play with 33 steals (2.2 per game).

The Riverdale, Ga., native has also stepped it up offensively. She has now scored in double figures in 16 of her last 19 games dating back to last season.

A Healthy Dose of Que

After suffering a string of injuries in her career, Morrison finally experienced a full healthy season for the Lady Bulldogs.

Here is a look back at some of the adversity Morrison has overcome.

The defensive stopper placed on the SEC All-Freshman Team after drawing 32 starts on Georgia’s NCAA tournament team. Then, in her sophomore campaign, Morrison missed the first eight games due to a torn meniscus in her left knee. In 2019-20, she had an injury to her foot before the year began. She then suffered a torn labrum in her right shoulder to end her junior campaign midway through SEC play.

Coombs Takes on Leadership Roles

Mikayla Coombs — a native of Buford, Ga. — was selected by her peers to serve as the vice chair of the SEC Women’s Basketball Leadership Council. As one of four elected officers, she will participate in various meetings throughout the year to provide feedback to Athletics Directors, Senior Woman Administrators and Faculty Athletics Representatives.

This news came after she was chosen as the only student-athlete representative on the NCAA competition committee. Coombs graduated with a degree in sport management from the University of Georgia and is currently pursuing a master’s in the same program. She was named a UGA Presidential Scholar in 2020, has placed on the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll three times and made the Dean’s List in 2021.

Coaching Consistency

Georgia has one of the longest tenured staffs in the SEC. With the return of Karen Lange, Chelsea Newton and Robert Mosley, Georgia is the only team in the conference to not have a single coaching change at any level — head coach or assistant coach — over the past six years.

Chapman Sticks with Basketball

Junior guard Chloe Chapman played two seasons with the Georgia soccer team, but after spending two years as a dual-sport athlete, she will now focus on just basketball. The Mitchellville, Md., native was a consensus top-40 prospect and was rated as the No. 8 overall point guard in the nation coming out of high school.

Georgia Freshmen Already Making History

Lady Bulldog freshmen Reigan Richardson and Jillian Hollingshead were both named McDonald’s All-Americans, marking the first time in Georgia history the program has signed two McDonald’s All-Americans in one class. Hollingshead and Richardson are the 11th and 12th McDonald’s All-Americans to sign with the Lady Bulldogs and are the first to commit right out high school since Ronika Ransford in 2010. Current Lady Bulldog Mikayla Coombs was a McDonald’s All-American in 2017.

Isaacs Brings Experience

Georgia junior forward Jordan Isaacs was the only non-senior to start every game for the Lady Bulldogs last season. Isaacs made big play after big play and stepped up defensively to lead her team. She made perhaps two of the most important plays of the year for the Lady Bulldogs. One was her block on Rennia Davis’ shot attempt that sealed the win against Tennessee, while the other came against Arkansas when she brought down an offensive board to set up Gabby Connally’s buzzer-beater.

A Storied History

Georgia is one of just two SEC programs (Tennessee) and one of just 16 teams nationwide to reach the 1,000 win total. The Lady Bulldogs accomplished the feat last season on the road at East Carolina, marking the latest impressive accomplishment for the storied program.

The Lady Bulldogs are one of only three teams, joining Wisconsin-Green Bay and Tennessee, to have a winning record every year since 1980 and have been to 34 of 39 NCAA tournaments.

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