Georgia basketball looking to physically match, uproot Aggies

Braelen Bridges fights for a rebound during Georgia’s game against Vanderbilt at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Tony Walsh

Georgia basketball coach Mike White needs more physicality from his team if it wants to make its loudest statement yet at Texas A&M.

The Bulldogs (14-8, 4-5 SEC) will try to knock off the SEC’s second place team at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday at Reed Arena in College Station, Texas. (TV: SEC Network)

Sure, UGA has surprised the conference a couple times this season. Beating Auburn and Ole Miss was certainly unexpected, at least in the eyes of the betting experts.

To defeat a beefy Aggies (15-7, 7-2) lineup on the road, though, would be Georgia’s crown jewel of upsets, especially when considering what it would require.

The Bulldogs have been dominated on the glass lately, getting out-rebounded in their last three games by a 122-97 count.

Reversing that trend against Texas A&M, which is shooting an impressive 44.6 percent from the field, is crucial for White.

“We’ve got to match a level of physicality and a level of intensity,” he said. “I’m not sure we can win seven or eight out of 10 against a team like that on the interior one-on-one, but we’ve got to win three of four of them.”

“We’ve got to get some of those rebounds, some of those loose balls. We’ve got to provide more resistance.”

Georgia has found a positive trend in guard Mardrez McBride, who is coming off the best two games of his season. The North Texas transfer scored 37 total points against Auburn and South Carolina, shooting a combined 11 of 15 from 3-point range.

“He’s falling into some open looks, they go in, and you’ve got a guy that feels pretty good about himself,” White said. “The challenge is to continue to stay in that place mentally.”

McBride, a fifth-year senior, has also stepped into more of a leadership role as of late.

“I’m just more of a laid-back person, so (White) challenges me all the time to step outside of my comfort zone and be that leader,” McBride said.

“He’s modeled a certain level of consistency, a pretty good attitude throughout, whether he’s not starting or starting and playing less minutes maybe than some other guys,” white said. “Whether it’s going in for him or from a shot-making standpoint, he’s been a guy that has been just about as consistent as we’ve had.”

Texas A&M starts a daunting stretch of Saturday opponents for Georgia. The Bulldogs play host to Kentucky on February 11 before visiting No. 4-ranked Alabama on February 18.

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