ATHENS — It’s “Senior Day” like no other in Stegeman Coliseum for Georgia basketball with South Carolina in town.
The Bulldogs (14-9, 7-9 SEC) play host to the Gamecocks (5-12, 3-10) at 1 p.m. (TV: SEC Network) with graduate transfer seniors Justin Kier, P.J. Horne and Andrew Garcia being recognized.
As Coach Tom Crean pointed out, it’s a “unique” Senior Day.
The Bulldogs have another home game (next Saturday) on account of the SEC league office recently adding league-leader Alabama to the slate as part of a COVID-related schedule reshuffle, and the seniors have the opportunity to return for another year.
“It’s a unique senior day not only because of the season but because they’re going to have the option to come back if they want,” Crean said. “I think the three of them if we’re going to generalize it, have brought a real maturity. They’ve brought an excellent spirit. They’ve been well-coached, and that absolutely benefited us when they came in.
“They’ve been great to be around. They’ve gotten better. I would say that what I’ve loved too is that they’ve appreciated being at a school like the University of Georgia.”
One of the storylines against the Gamecocks figures to quickly shift to sophomore point guard Sahvir Wheeler, who on the heels of UGA’s first-ever triple-double looks to break the school mark for assists.
Wheeler has 165 assists this season, second nationally and four shy of the school mark currently held by Pertha Robinson.
South Carolina has proven a tough matchup for Crean, who has yet to beat his friend Frank Martin since arriving in Athens, 0-5 including an 83-59 loss in Columbia earlier this season.
It’s part of a nine-game losing streak Georgia has to the Gamecocks, as Mark Fox lost his final four games to South Carolina before being fired.
“It’s not about getting one on Frank, it’s about getting one on South Carolina, no doubt about it,” Crean said. “They’re a very tough opponent. They defend extremely well. They’re aggressive. They’ve been very tough. More often than not, they’ve won the rebounding game on us.”
Georgia enters the day playing its best basketball of the season after knocking off LSU 91-78 last Tuesday night to conclude a series of five projected NCAA tournament teams with a 2-3 mark.
Georgia basketball current series streaks:
Won 5: Georgia Tech, last loss Nov. 14, 2014, Atlanta
Won 4: Vanderbilt, last loss Feb. 7, 2018, Nashville
Won 3: Ole Miss, last loss Jan. 25, 2020, Athens
Won 1: Auburn, last loss Jan. 13, 2021 Athens
Won 1: Missouri, last loss Jan. 29, 2020, at Columbia
Won 1: LSU, last loss Jan. 6, 2021, at Baton Rouge
Lost 9: South Carolina, last win March 11, 2016, at Nashville
Lost 4: Mississippi State, last win Feb. 14, 2017 Athens
Lost 4: Florida, last win March 2, 2019 at Gainesville
Lost 3: Alabama, last win Jan. 6, 2018, Athens
Lost 1: Arkansas, last win Feb. 29, 2020 Athens
Lost 1: Texas A&M, last win Feb. 1, 2020, Athens
Lost 1: Tennessee, last win Jan. 15, 2020, Athens
Won 1: Kentucky, last loss Jan. 21, 2020, Lexington