GAME NOTES: The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs will try to keep their season alive as they square off with the Georgia Bulldogs in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament at Stegeman Coliseum.
Louisiana Tech had high hopes of reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1991 after finishing its first season as a member of the Conference USA in a four-way tie for first place. However, the Bulldogs were defeated by the eventual conference tournament champion Tulsa Golden Hurricane in the semifinals. Coach Michael White's squad survived its first round matchup versus Iona, defeating the Gaels, 89-88, thanks to a putback layup by starting point guard Kenneth Smith in the closing seconds of the contest.
Georgia ended its regular season with four wins in five games and went on to defeat Ole Miss in the first round of the SEC Tournament. However, it ran out of steam and dropped a 12-point decision to Kentucky its next time out. Coach Mark Fox and his team regroup on Wednesday with a 63-56 victory over Vermont at Stegeman Coliseum, where the Bulldogs have gone 15-2 this season. Georgia's triumph over the Catamounts marked its 20th win of the campaign, giving it just its second 20-win season in the past 12 years.
This will be just the second meeting in history between these schools. Georgia won the first meeting, 42-34, which took place during the 1977-78 campaign.
On the season, LA Tech is averaging 81.3 ppg on 45.5 percent efficiency from the floor while limiting its opposition to a mere 66 ppg on 41.3 percent shooting from the field. The Gaels held the Bulldogs to an 8-of-26 clip from 3- point range in the opening round, but six players scored in double-figures for LA Tech in the decision. Smith tallied 14 points, six assists and five steals, while Jaron Johnson and Kenyon McNeail tied for the team-high with 15 points each. Smith's five steals improved his career total to 186, which leaves the junior guard just five shy from tying the program record. Chris Anderson stepped up his play against Iona to record his third career double- double with 13 points and 10 boards.
Georgia has a much more defensive-minded approach as it posts only 68.8 ppg, but allows just 66.4 ppg. Although Fox's Bulldogs are converting only 68.4 percent of their free-throw attempts this season, they managed to sink a season-high 92 percent (24-for-26) at the charity stripe versus Vermont. Charles Mann scored 12 of his 29 points at the free-throw line and Marcus Thornton went 4-of-7 from the field and made all eight of his attempts at the charity stripe en route to 16 points. Georgia's second-leading scorer, Kenny Gaines, struggled on his way to seven points.
Georgia committed 22 turnovers in its win over Vermont. It can not afford to be as careless against LA Tech, which ranks fourth nationally with 317 steals. The Bulldogs that come out on top will advance to face the winner of Sunday's second round matchup between Florida State and Georgetown.
Game Date and Time