The Georgia basketball team (12-6 overall, 4-2 in the SEC) heads to Texas A&M (9-8, 1-5) for a Saturday game that tips off at noon ET. Here are three things to know heading into the matchup:
1. ROAD TO NCAAs
This probably doesn’t qualify as a must-win for Georgia’s NCAA tournament hopes, but it would clearly hurt to lose, given Georgia’s upcoming schedule. Including this game, Georgia has three winnable games (Texas A&M, then home to Alabama and Texas) before a difficult stretch of games (at Kentucky and South Carolina, then Florida at home.) Sitting precariously on the bubble, the Bulldogs either need to pull off some upsets or avoid bad losses.
The good news for Georgia is that it’s looking like a team that can play well on the road — as it did two years ago, when it won eight road games, including six in the SEC, on the way to an NCAA bid. So far this year, the Bulldogs have four wins away from home, two of them in other SEC venues.
Head coach Mark Fox indicated that experience may be a factor in that. Georgia starts one senior, a fourth-year junior, and a junior, along with two seniors playing off the bench.
“I think we’ve had pretty good road teams,” said Fox, now in his eighth year. “Obviously each team’s a little different. I think the chemistry and the makeup of your team, how they play in the face of adversity and against opposing crowds can be a little different year-to-year. But ultimately you have to have a good team to win away from home, and one that’s mature enough to deal with the differences that come with playing away from home and traveling: Being in different beds, different backdrops in shooting, different sidelines, and all those types of things.”
2. CRUMP COMING ON?
Fox said there are a “couple of guys” ready to improve and “make our team better the next couple weeks if they make the right steps.” Fox didn’t name those players. But highly-touted freshman guard Tyree Crump, who hasn’t played much this season, did go in the first half against Vanderbilt.
“Tyree’s been doing great,” Fox said. “Tyree’s been practicing really well. He’s learned a tremendous amount of what we’re trying to do schematically at both ends, and he’s doing great. I think he’ll continue to get better and better.”
3. THIS ONE’S A TOSS-UP
Georgia comes in playing as well as it has this year, winners of three of four, the exception being the overtime loss at Florida. Texas A&M, on the other hand, has lost five of six and two in a row, including a 2-point loss at home to Arkansas on Tuesday night.
But Las Vegas sees this as basically an even matchup, with the Aggies favored by one, according to VegasInsider.com.
The main challenge on Texas A&M is post player Tyler Davis, who’s leading the Aggies in scoring (13.7 points per game) and rebounding (6.9 per game.) The Aggies made the NCAA tournament last year but lost a number of players off that team.
“Because their schedule has been so hard and they lost so many off of last year’s team, they’ve played better than maybe what their record shows,” Fox said. “Because I do think they have a really good balance between inside and outside.”