Kario Oquendo leads Georgia basketball into ‘ACC road game’ test at Wake Forest

Georgia during a game against Western Carolina at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga., on Monday, Dec. 20, 2021. (Photo by Mackenzie Miles)
Mackenzie Miles

ATHENS — New Georgia basketball coach Mike White has confidence in where the program is headed, but tonight’s game at Wake Forest will provide a gauge of where his program currently sits.

The Bulldogs’ basketball program celebrated the first day of the NCAA early signing period on Tuesday by signing two Top 100 players, Lamariyon “Mari” Jordan (No. 74) and Dylan James (No. 94).

Size and athleticism have been hallmarks of White’s NCAA tournament teams at Florida, and already, the first-year coach has brought more of that look to this season’s Georgia basketball team.

The Bulldogs face a tall task tonight, however, traveling to Wake Forest to face Coach Steve Forbes and the Demon Deacons as 6 1/2-point underdogs in the 8:30 p.m. game which will be shown on the ACC Network.

“In a certain way you look at it, it’s not ideal,” White said. “But it is ideal in terms of an opportunity to learn and see where we’re at …. It’s an ACC road game.”

Forbes, believed to be one of the primary targets for the Georgia job last spring, led Wake Forest to its best win total (25) in 17 years last season and tied the program record for most conference wins (13).

The Demon Deacons, who are in a reloading mode like the Bulldogs, topped Fairfield by a 71-59 count last Monday.

Georgia opened its season last Monday with a 68-55 win over Western Carolina, powered by 18 points from preseason All-SEC pick Kario Oquendo.

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“I think we had 20 turnovers and we still won by double digits, so that was encouraging,” said Virginia transfer Jabri Abdur-Rahim, one of five returning players from last season’s UGA team, noting an area the Bulldogs look to quickly correct.

“It’s cleaning up the turnovers and valuing the ball is what we like to call ‘being more secure.’ I think that’d be the most important thing going into the game. We’re really going to lock in on that.”

White said forward Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe, who started on Monday and scored 6 points with 3 rebounds, didn’t practice on Wednesday (ankle) and might not be ready to play against the Demon Deacons.

White noted there will be a great deal learned about this year’s version of Georgia basketball regardless of the final score.

“We’ve just got so far to go in so many different areas, as we prepare for Wake, so much of it is going to be about us,” White said.

“Especially this early in the season. Especially with a new staff and nine new players at Georgia.”

Mike White recaps opening night win

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