After missing the NCAA tournament for the first time in 21 years last season, UGA has made its way back to the promised land. The Bulldogs were named a No. 8 seed in the Lexington Regional on Monday and will face No. 9 Indiana Saturday at 9 p.m. ET in South Bend, Ind.
“We felt like before the season started, if our players accepted the challenge that we gave them and really competed at a high level, we would have a chance to go to the tournament,” Georgia coach Joni Taylor said. “When you look at us on paper, we’re a tournament team. We’re very senior-driven with experience and talented enough to do it.”
The Bulldogs’ last NCAA tournament game against Indiana was in 1995, and they are 2-0 all-time against the Hoosiers in the tournament.
Georgia suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss to Vanderbilt in the second round of the SEC tournament, failing to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in 17 years. Despite the loss, the Bulldogs ended the season with a 21-9 overall record and a 9-8 conference record. This is the first time since 2014 that Georgia has posted more than 20 wins, and it is the highest season win total since the 2013 NCAA Elite Eight team.
The Bulldogs head into the tournament without senior Shacobia Barbee, who underwent season-ending surgery to repair a fractured bone in her lower left leg that she suffered against Florida on March 3. Barbee averaged 12.7 points and 9.1 rebounds this season, and her presence was missed in the loss to Vanderbilt.
To make a significant run in the tournament, several players will need to step up in Barbee’s absence, including freshman Caliya Robinson. Robinson had a breakout first season and served as a major key for success in several games, notching eight double-scoring performances and three double-doubles. The Marietta, Ga., native earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors three times and was named to the All-Freshman Team.
Senior Tiaria Griffin is expected to continue to lead the Bulldogs in their tournament journey. Griffin was Georgia’s leading scorer in the regular season, averaging 14.6 points per game, and was named to the All-SEC Second Team.