Dogs Open SEC Play Against Aggies
Georgia Basketball Game Notes
Georgia (5-8, 0-0 SEC) vs. Texas A&M (11-2, 0-0 SEC)
Date: Tuesday, January 4, 2021
Tipoff: 7:00 p.m. ET
Location: Stegeman Coliseum (10,523) in Athens, Ga.
Watch: SEC Network (Kevin Fitzgerald pbp; Jimmy Dykes, analyst)
Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network – Flagship: WSB AM 750; XM: 389; SXM App: 977. (Jeff Dantzler, play-by-play; Chuck Dowdle, analyst; David Jones, producer)
The Starting 5…
• Through games of 1/2 Aaron Cook ranked No. 6 nationally in assist average (6.8) and No. 9 in total assists (82).
• UGA has used 6 different starting lineups in the first 13 games, with no quintet starting more than three games together.
• Braelen Bridges leads UGA with nine double-figure outputs...and has two more games with nine points.
• Jaxon Etter has drawn 11 offensive fouls this year...and 19 in UGA’s last 24 games dating back to last season.
• UGA’s seven first-year transfers combined to score 4,782 points at their previous schools.
The Opening Tip
The Georgia Bulldogs begin the Southeastern Conference portion of the 2021-22 schedule on Tuesday evening when they host Texas A&M’s Aggies at Stegeman Coliseum at 7:00 p.m.
The date with the Aggies concludes an eight-game, 37-day homestand for Georgia. The Bulldogs’ last outing away from Athens was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
Georgia is 5-8 on the season and looking to snap a two-game losing skid.
Keeping An Eye On . . . Entering Today’s Game:
Aaron Cook is...
• 9 assists from 400 for his career
• 5 outings from 150 games played in his career
• 18 steals from 200 for his career
Series History With A&M
Georgia and Texas A&M have split their 10 all-time matchups, with both teams sporting 3-2 advantages in home games.
Overall in the all-time series, the Bulldogs won the first four matchups, the Aggies bounced back to win the next four.
The Bulldogs and Aggies did not meet last season. They were slated to play on Feb. 10 in College Station; however, that contest was postponed – and later canceled – due to COVID issues within the Texas A&M program.
Two seasons ago, UGA and A&M split a home-and-home series, with the home team winning each matchup.
Most recently on Feb. 15, 2020 at Reed Arena, Texas A&M rallied in the closing minutes to secure a 74-69 win over Georgia. The victory avenged a 15-point win by the Bulldogs two weeks earlier in Athens.
Georgia led for 28:34 of the contest and never trailed in the second half until a pair of free throws by Emanuel Miller made it 61-59 with 3:48 remaining. Down 64-63 at the 2:12 mark, Georgia gained possession with a chance to regain the lead; however, a steal and bucket on the other end opened a 10-6 A&M surge to end the contest.
Two Saturdays earlier on Feb. 1 at a sold-out Stegeman Coliseum, Anthony Edwards’ double-double of 29 points and 15 rebounds led Georgia to a 63-48 victory over Texas A&M.
The Bulldogs took the lead for good on a basket by Edwards with 36 seconds left in the first half. A 15-4 surge early in the second half put the Bulldogs up 39-27 and A&M never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.
Scouting The Aggies
Texas A&M completed non-conference play with an 11-2 record and is riding a four-game winning streak.
The Aggies began the season with four victories before losing to Wisconsin in the opening round of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, which was contested in Las Vegas this season. A&M bounced back to defeat Butler and Notre Dame in their other Maui matchups. The Aggies’ other loss was to TCU on Dec. 11.
Quenton Jackson is A&M’s leading scorer at 13.7 ppg. While eight Aggies have gotten starting nods at some point this season, Jackson has come off the bench in every contest. Marcus Williams, one of two Aggies to start every game, is contributing 10.1 ppg. No less than five players are averaging between 7.1-8.9 ppg for A&M.
Last Time Out
Braelen Bridges notched his team-leading ninth double-figure scoring output of the season to lead a trio of Bulldogs in double figures, but Georgia still dropped a 77-60 decision to Gardner-Webb on Dec. 29.
Bridges paced the Bulldogs with 17 points, while Kario Oquendo and Noah Baumann chipped in 12 and 11 points for Georgia, respectively.
Gardner-Webb started quickly and raced to a 18-8 lead at the 13:43 mark of the first half. The Bulldogs closed to within eight points early in the second stanza but then failed to convert on three subsequent possessions. The Runnin’ Bulldogs used a 6-0 surge to regain some distance.
Crean, Williams Have History
Georgia’s Tom Crean and Texas A&M’s Buzz Williams served as the head coach at Marquette over an 15-season span covering 1999-2014.
Crean led the Eagles from 1999-2009 before moving on to Indiana. In those nine seasons, Marquette earned five NCAA Tournament appearances. That tally was one more than the previous four head coaches at Marquette did in their combined 16 seasons prior to Crean’s arrival. The centerpiece of his tenure, of course, was a trip to the 2003 NCAA Final Four with star pupil Dwyane Wade.
Williams was an assistant coach for Crean’s final season at Marquette and then was promoted to head coach. He sustained the momentum created by Crean by leading the Eagles to five NCAA bids over the next six seasons. Marquette’s best “March Madness” performance under Williams was a trip to the 2013 “Elite Eight.”
Bulldogs Swith Lineups
Georgia has utilized six different starting lineups in 13 games this season, mixing and matching eight Bulldogs to comprise those quintets.
Only Braelen Bridges and Kario Oquendo have gotten the nod for every contest, although Aaron Cook has started every game he’s played. Cook missed the Memphis game due to an illness.
The Bulldogs have not used the same starting five more than three times this season. Both of the quintets that started a trio of games won’t do so again...since they both featured Jailyn Ingram, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Dec. 7 against Jacksonville.
B.B. Is Consistent, Efficient
Braelen Bridges is not only Georgia’s leading scorer, he’s also the Bulldogs’ most consistent point producer and among the nation’s most efficient.
Bridges has posted double-digit scoring outputs in a team-best nine of Georgia’s 13 games and has notched nine points in two of the other four outings.
The graduate transfer senior Atlanta native is shooting a sizzling 65.6 percent from the field, connecting on 63 of his 96 field goal attempts.
Bridges’ effort almost puts him in elite company in the SEC and nationally. To be ranked among statistical leaders in FG percentage, a player has to make a minimum of five shots per game. With 63 field goals made, Bridges falls two shy of that standard...or he would lead the SEC and rank No. 6 in the nation through games played on Sunday.
Cook Among Assist Leaders
Aaron Cook entered this week ranked No. 2 in the SEC and No. 6 nationally in average assists per game.
The “super senior” from St. Louis has distributed 82 passes-to-points in the 12 games he’s played this season, an averaged of 6.8 apg.
Though only a little more than a third of the way through the season, Cook’s apg tally is on pace to be the second-best ever by a Bulldog. In fact, he has a nice cushion between the current No. 2 – 6.3 apg by Pertha Robinson in 1994-95.
Cook also is No. 2 in the SEC and No. 9 nationally in total assists despite missing the Memphis game because of an illness.
Noah Continues Scoring Trend
Now in his fifth season of college basketball but just his first at Georgia, Noah Baumann has continued his trend of scoring most of his points in an efficient manner from behind the 3-point arc.
Through 13 games, 21 of Baumann’s 27 (.778) made field goals this season have been 3-pointers, and he’s shooting a higher percentage from 3-point range (.457) than on 2-point attempts (.429).
Career-wise, 72.0 percent (167 of 232) of Baumann’s made FGs are 3-pointers, and he is shooting a considerably better clip from outside the arc (.437) than inside that stripe (.365).
Etter Accepting Charges
Defensively, Jaxon Etter is like Visa...as in “everywhere you want (him) to be.”
The junior walk-on from Woodstock, Ga., took three charges against Western Carolina, the second game this season when he’s drawn a trio of offensive fouls...the other outing being versus Georgia Tech.
On the season, Etter has now collected a team-high 11 charges.
The trend actually began last season when Etter drew eight offensive fouls in the final 11 games, giving him 19 charges taken in UGA’s last 24 contests.
Bulldogs Post Career Highs
There were several of career-best statistical performances in Georgia’s outings against Western Carolina and ETSU.
Aaron Cook dished out 12 assists versus the Catamounts, bettering his previous high of 10 at Cincinnati earlier this season and against Howard on Nov. 19, 2018. With 13 points versus WCU, the “super senior” from St. Louis also recorded his second career double-double...the first also coming at Cincinnati.
Noah Baumann grabbed 11 rebounds against Western Carolina, more than doubling his previous career-most of five in seven different games including this year’s season opener against FIU. Joked Tom Crean: “I don’t know if he’s done that since grade school. Somewhere out West, he might have had 11 boards in a CYO game in the eighth grade.”
Baumann followed that performance with a 25-point showing versus ETSU. He did so in extremely efficient fashion, connecting on 8-of-10 field goals overall and 7-of-9 from 3-point range.
Dalen Ridgnal scored 10 points and collected nine rebounds versus Western Carolina, just shy a double-double. Those tallies are even more impressive considering he did so in 12 minutes of PT.
Dogs Look To Regroup...Again
Georgia lost Jailyn Ingram to a knee injury during the Jacksonville game on Dec. 7. The “super senior” from Madison, Ga., and Morgan County High School was the Bulldogs’ leading rebounder (6.0 rpg) and third-leading scorer (10.7 ppg).
Ingram went down in a non-contact situation while trying to save a ball along the baseline with 14:21 left in the contest.
Following an MRI on Dec. 8, head coach Tom Crean confirmed the prognosis on Dec. 9 with a Twitter post stating: “Unfortunately, Jailyn Ingram will have to have surgery to repair his ACL in his right knee. It’s heartbreaking because Jailyn has been emerging in so many areas and has been a model of consistency day in and day out. He’s an incredible young man. We will help him in every way.
“Jailyn has brought a spirit and seriousness to us. He is a guy that is in the gym most mornings before we would lift weights at 8:45 and was a stabilizing for a young team. We plan to appeal for the waiver to get another year since he’s under the 30% games played. Pray for him.”
Ingram’s setback is the second season-ending injury for Georgia. On Oct. 20, Crean announced that P.J. Horne, one of just two Bulldogs to start every game last season, would miss the 2021-22 campaign.
Tweeted Crean: “It’s with genuine sadness that I let you know that P.J. Horne will miss this season after undergoing surgery on his right knee this past weekend. In practice, he bumped knees in a scrimmage, lost footing and went down awkwardly.
“This is such a major blow to us because P.J. was playing so well and showing great leadership as our leading returning player, but more so because he is such a great person and one of the finest people I’ve ever coached. He cares about his teammates deeply.”
Shooting His Shot
Noah Baumann had an eventual Sunday, November 14. The graduate transfer from Southern Cal proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Mackenzie Moore, beside Lake Herrick at the intramural fields on the UGA campus.
Baumann and Moore have known each other since they were 7th graders at Akimel (pronounced ah-kee-mull) Middle School and started dating during their senior year at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix.
They have endured a long-distance relationship for the past four years.
Moore was a four-year starter on the Miami (Ohio) softball team, batting .279 with seven homers and 66 RBI. She was named second-team All-MAC as a senior, leading the RedHawks to a 46-10 finish, the MAC Championship and an NCAA Tournament bid.
Jabri’s Contributions Soar
It’s probably glossed over too much that this fall is the first time Jabri Abdur-Rahim has played extended minutes in nearly two years. He suffered a foot injury during his senior season at Blair Academy and only played in two games.
It appears the Jabri who was ranked as one of the nation’s top-40 prospects in the Class of 2020 has re-emerged in Georgia’s first three outings of December.
Abdur-Rahim exploded for a career-high 20 points against Wofford and followed that with a 15 and 10-point showings versus No. 18 Memphis and Jacksonville, respectively.
Equally impressive as the totals was the efficiency in which he scored.
In those three games, Abdur-Rahim scored more points, connected on more shots and upped his shooting percentages by massive amounts over his 14 previous career outings as outlined below.
Stat 1st 14 Next 3 Diff.
Total Points 32 45 +13
Scoring Average 2.3 15.0 12.7
FGs Made 9 13 +4
FG Percentage .214 .650 +.436
3FGs Made 3 9 +6
3FG Percentage .125 .600 +.475
Crean Captures Win No. 400
Tom Crean secured his 400th career victory with Georgia’s upset of No. 18 Memphis on December 1.
Prior to arriving in Athens, Crean compiled 366 W’s in his first 18 campaigns as a collegiate head coach. He earned the first 190 in nine seasons at Marquette from 1998-2008 and added 166 more at Indiana between 2008-17 before arriving in Athens and securing the final 44 of his 400.
Tom Crean’s Milestone Wins
No. 1 – Nov. 20, 1999 – Marquette defeats Chicago State, 62-43, in Tom Crean’s first game as a collegiate head coach.
No. 100 – March 6, 2004 – Freshman Dameon Mason’s three-point play with eight-tenths of a second left lifts Marquette over No. 25 Louisville, 81-80.
No. 200 – Dec. 8, 2009 – Indiana knocks off Pittsburgh, 74-64, in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
No. 250 – Nov. 20, 2012 – A day after beating Georgia, 66-53, in the first round, IU tops Georgetown, 82-72, to win the Progressive Legends Classic.
No. 300 – Dec. 20, 2014 – Indiana tops No. 23 Butler, 82-73, as Yogi Ferrell became IU’s 48th 1,000-point scorer.
No. 400 – Dec. 1, 2021 – Kario Oquendo’s 24-point outburst paces UGA in an 82-79 upset of No. 18 Memphis at a raucous Stegeman Coliseum.
Wright Stellar Against Tigers
Freshman Christian Wright started at point guard against No. 18 Memphis for Aaron Cook, who was out of action due to an illness. That task was taller considering the Tigers entered the game forcing an average of 18.0 turnovers per game.
While Wright’s career-high totals of 17 points, six boards and 38 minutes tallies drew significant attention, his turnover tally – a meager one TO – was the most significant digit in his linescore. And he did so logging the most PT of any Bulldog in any game this season to date.
Also of note, Wright drew seven fouls, including two on the offensive end, and converted on 6-of-7 free throw attempts.
We Should’ve Known...
...when Georgia tipped off against No. 18 Memphis, Kario Oquendo was ready for a breakout performance. There were pretty good indicators on record.
Last season, the Titusville, Fla., native averaged 13.5 points while shooting 55.4 percent from the field for the Florida SouthWestern College.
In Buccaneers’ four contests against ranked opponents, those stats jumped to 22.0 points and 63.6 percent.
The trend of big nights against ranked foes continued against Memphis, with Oquendo pouring in 24 points while shooting 69.2 percent (9-of-13) from the floor.
Take II: We Should’ve Known...
...the Bulldogs’ upset of No. 18 Memphis was a likely occurrence. Georgia’s quartet of victories over ranked teams under Tom Crean all came against Tigers.
Georgia has now one four consecutive matchups against ranked Tigers, with the Bulldogs besting No. 9 Memphis on Jan. 4, 2020, No. 13 Auburn on Feb. 19, 2020 and No. 20 Missouri on Feb. 16, 2021 prior to defeating Memphis.
Tip of the cap to stats guru Dave McMahon (@dave_mc_stats) for being the first to notice the coincidence.
The SportsCenter “top-Quen”
Kario Oquendo has emphatically made his way in the top-10 plays on ESPN’s SportsCenter twice this season.
On Nov. 16, Oquendo came in at No. 3 on SportsCenter’s top-10 plays after his third highlight reel effort against S.C. State. He stole the ball at midcourt and windmilled home an uncontested dunk.
A posterized effort on Nov. 23 was tabbed No. 6. Oquendo, who’s 6-4, gathered a steal in Northwestern’s lane and drove the length of the floor before a thunderous dunk over a 6-9 Wildcat.
Cook Tops Millennium Mark
Aaron Cook blew past the 1,000-point career scoring mark on Nov. 16 against South Carolina State.
The “super senior” was eight points shy of that plateau entering the game. He inched past the milestone on a jumper with 2:21 left in the first half. Cook finished the night with 22 points, three of his career high versus Indiana State on Jan. 24, 2018.
Cook scored 845 points at Southern Illinois from 2016-20. He competed for four seasons at SIU, including a redshirt campaign in 2019-20 due to a broken hand.
Cook transferred to Gonzaga and added 127 points for the Bulldogs en route to their NCAA runner-up finish last season.
Cook scored 10 points in each of his first two outings at UGA, pushing him to 992 prior to the S.C. State matchup.
Dalen, Kario Draw Attention
Kario Oquendo and Dalen Ridgnal have been ranked among the top junior college transfers expected to make the biggest marks at the Division-I level this season.
On August 25, bustingbrackets.com ranked the top-25 junior college players moving to the “high-major” level. Ridgnal was tabbed No. 2 on that ledger, while Oquendo was ranked No. 23.
On Nov. 1, college basketball guru Jon Rothstein tabbed his top-10 “JUCOs to watch” that also included Ridgnal.
Cook Among Most Experienced
Aaron Cook arrived in Athens having already participated in 133 games. Cook logged action in 103 contests in four seasons at Southern Illinois, including six in a 2019-20 redshirt campaign. He then played in 30 contests last season at Gonzaga.
Cook’s was the third-most experienced player – game wise – in Division I entering this season as outlined in the next column.
As a point of reference for Georgia’s record for career games played is 133 contests by Marcus Thornton from 2011-15. Thornton’s tally covers five seasons, including a redshirt season with nine GPs.
In addition, Jailyn Cook ranked among D-I’s top-50 players in career outings entering 2021-22, having played in 122 contests at FAU prior to joining the Bulldogs.
D-I’s Career GPs Leaders
Rk. Player, School Games
1. Jordan Bohannon, Iowa 142
2. Chevez Goodwin, USC 138
3. Aaron Cook, Georgia 133
Garrison Brooks, Miss. St. 133
Jalen Coleman-Lands, Kansas 133
Justin Kier, Arizona 133
Welcoming A Slew Of Scoring
Of the 10 newcomers on the Bulldogs’ roster seven are transfers – five from the Division I level (Jabri Abdur-Rahim, Noah Baumann, Braelen Bridges, Aaron Cook and Jailyn Ingram) and a pair from the junior college ranks (Kario Oquendo and Dalen Ridgnal).
Those players arrived in Athens having already scored 4,782 points at their previous schools. That represents the largest addition of scoring by any Division I program for the 2021-22 season as outlined below.
In their previous stops, the D-I quintet of the group also logged 8813 minutes in 404 games played, while grabbing 1283 rebounds, dishing 643 assists, swatting 116 blocks and collecting 304 steals.
Top Scoring Influx’s In D-I hoops
Rk. School Players Points
1. Georgia 7 4782
2. Duquesne 5 4695
3. Florida 5 4144
4. Arkansas 6 4125
5. Penn State 7 5183
6. Washington St. 4 3785
7. SMU 4 3733
8. Kentucky 4 3538
9. Utah 6 3175
10. Arizona St. 3 3132
On The Flip Side...
While Georgia welcomed a huge influx of college scoring from its newcomers, the Bulldogs returned a minuscule portion of their scoring from last season.
P.J. Horne was Georgia’s only returning starter but was lost for the season after suffering a knee injury during preseason practices. The Tifton, Ga., native put up 222 points – 8.5 ppg – last season, largely due to connecting on a team-high 46 3-pointers.
“This is such a major blow to us because P.J. was playing so well and showing great leadership as our leading returning player, but more so because he is such a great person and one of the finest people I’ve ever coached,” Tom Crean tweeted on Oct. 20. “He cares about his teammates deeply.”
With that, the four returning Bulldogs accounted for only 1110 of Georgia’s 2014 points a year ago, or 5.5 percent. Walk-on Jaxon Etter is the top returning point producer with 47 points.
Putting Up Points Under Crean
Georgia has certainly been keeping scoreboard operators busy since Tom Crean arrived in Athens in 2018.
The Bulldogs reached the 90-point plateau 15 times in 90 games during Crean’s first three seasons. That’s a relatively healthy 16.7 percent of the team’s total contests.
By comparison, Georgia scored 90 or more points just 15 times in 387 games before Crean’s arrival, or .038 percent of the outings in a span that dates back a dozen seasons to the 2006-07 campaign.
The big numbers by the Bulldogs aren’t just a single-game thing.
In three seasons under Crean, the Bulldogs have averaged two of their top-5 scoring outputs of the 2000s as outlined below.
Top Scoring Averages In 2000s
Rk. Season Points Games Avg.
1. 2002-03 2138 27 79.2
2. 2020-21 1944 25 77.8
3. 2001-02 2444 32 76.4
4. 2019-20 2428 32 75.9
5. 2006-07 2477 33 75.1
“B” Is For Basketball Player
You may notice on Georgia’s roster that the Bulldogs have gone away from listing traditional positions – guard, forward and center. All 15 players are now simply listed as “B” for “Basketball Player.”
Tom Crean is a proponent for “position-less basketball.”
“That’s what they are,” Crean said. “It’s not valid to call them centers and power forwards and things like that as much with the way that we’re trying to play. They’re being trained as basketball players, every day... in the sense of how we train with the ball handling, the driving, the shooting – all those type of things. That’s big to me.”