After a week's worth of rest from game-action, the Bulldogs will take on the Governors from Austin Peay tonight.
As expected, Georgia is a heavy favorite in this game. ESPN's Basketball Power Index gives the Bulldogs an 82.1% chance to come out with a win. In addition, Vegas odds have Georgia as a 12.5 point favorite.
Austin Peay of the Ohio Valley Conference has gotten off to a shaky start this season. The Governors are 6-6 on the year, with all 6 of those losses being away from home. Despite their disappointing record, the team features two talented guards in Terry Taylor (23.5 PPG) and Jordyn Adams (15.3 PPG).
Much like Georgia, Austin Peay has been successful on the offensive side of the ball. As a team, they're averaging 78 PPG, which ranks 66th in the country.
The Austin Peay starting line up doesn't feature much size at all. In fact, four players in their starting group are guards, with 6'8 195-pound Sita Conteh being the only forward. That makes sense as to why the Governors are averaging just 34.2 rebounds per game in comparison to Georgia's 41.2.
Generally, Georgia is able to control the game when there isn't a true post threat. If Georgia controls the boards and shoots the ball efficiently, this should be nothing more than a tune-up game. However if they allow Austin Peay to shoot a high percentage from the field, lose the battle on the boards, and turn the ball over, it might be a different story.
So, if the Bulldogs want to prevent an upset-effort from the Governors, here's the keys to the game:
1. Keep Rayshaun Hammonds out of foul trouble.
Part of controlling the game down low is having your best post option, Rayshaun Hammonds in the game. Hammonds is the team's second-leading scorer with 13.7 PPG and leading rebounder with 9.1 rebounds per game. When he plays a high number of minutes, the Bulldogs tend to play better. But when Hammonds gets in early foul trouble, as he did against Dayton and Michigan State, the Bulldogs end up in a bind. If Hammonds doesn't pick up quick fouls, Georgia likely takes control of this game early and wins big.
2. Find a second scoring option in both the front court and back court.
This will be something Georgia will need to continue not only in this game but also throughout the season, especially against teams like Memphis, Kentucky, Auburn, etc. Assuming Anthony Edwards (19.7 PPG) and Rayshaun Hammonds (13.7 PPG) put up their usual numbers, Crean has to continue to find high levels of production from the others.
Up top, there's plenty of other places to look. Georgia has looked to Sahvir Wheeler, Tyree Crump, Donnell Gresham Jr., and even Tye Fagan for offensive production. Throw in Jordan Harris, and there should be no problem with Georgia getting offensive production from its' guards. But with Georgia inserting freshman, Toumani Camara into the lineup, Rayshaun Hammonds may have found his "wingman". Camara shot 8/8 from the field against Georgia Southern, scoring 16 points in 32 minutes.
3. Stay healthy.
For Georgia, they cannot afford to lose anyone to injury with the tough slate they have to face in January. If Key #1 and Key #2 are set in place, Georgia will likely be in control of this game the whole way through. Recently, there's been some talk about Anthony Edwards playing through a hip injury. While it's obvious he's good to go, scoring 23 points in last Monday's win over Georgia Southern, Georgia can't afford for him to make his injury worse, or have anyone else come off the court with an injury. The Bulldogs need to take control of the game early-on to get guys like Edwards off the court and lower the risk of injuries.
The Bulldogs are set to tip-off against the Governors at 7:00 PM EST. The game will be televised through SECN+.