The Aggies travel to Athens to take on the Georgia Bulldogs on Tuesday night at 6:00 CT to open Southeastern Conference play. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU, the Ags’ fourth nationally televised game this season.
Our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook have the Aggies as 6-point favorites* on the road. Kenpom.com predicts the Aggies to win by a 7 point margin, 73-66, with a 74% chance of winning the game outright.
*Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
A year after going 14-12 overall and 7-11 in SEC play, Georgia has started this season 5-8 in non-conference play. They have wins over FIU, Soutth Carolina State, Jacksonville, Western Carolina, and a surprising upset victory at home over Memphis. While their eight losses are a significant blemish, the Bulldogs have played a considerably stronger schedule than the Aggies, thanks in large part to their four games against legitimate mid-majors. Georgia’s losses include Cincinnati (73-68), Georgia Tech (88-78), Virginia (65-55), Northwestern (78-62), Wofford (68-65), George Mason (80-67), East Tennnesee (86-84), and Gardner Webb (77-60).
Tom Crean is in his fourth season as the head coach of the Bulldogs. After being fired by Indiana in 2017, Crean became a hopeful target for many Aggie fans to replace Billy Kennedy as Kennedy’s teams struggled late in his tenure. However, the Bulldogs jumped at the chance to hire Crean in 2018, to replace Mark Fox. Despite a splash in his initial recruiting classes, Crean is currently 46-57 in his Georgia tenure.
Much like the Aggies, Georgia’s roster is comprised of a significant number of transfers picked up this year. In fact, seven Bulldogs were playing for other colleges last season, and three players are incoming freshmen. Additionally, only one Dawg on the 15 man roster, junior guard Jaxon Enter, has more than two seasons with the program.
Former Aggie commit Sahvir Wheeler, who led the Bulldogs in points, assists, and steals last season, has left Athens to join the Kentucky Wildcats. Wheeler originally signed a letter of intent to play for Texas A&M in November of 2018; however, after former head coach Billy Kennedy was relieved of his duties in 2019, Wheeler was granted his release and elected to attend Georgia.
The Bulldogs are led in scoring by senior forward/center Braelen Bridges, a transfer from the University of Illinois Chicago who averages 12.8 points per game. Bridges is joined at the top of the scoring ledger by sophomore forward Kario Oquendo, a Florida Southwestern State transfer who averages 11.5 points. The engine of the machine is senior point guard Aaron Cook, a “super senior” transfer who spent four years at Southern Illinois before playing last year at Gonzaga. Cook averages 10.6 points per game and also has the sixth highest assist rate in the country at 43.2%. He has been on the floor for more than 75% of Georgia’s total playing time this season and also leads the team in steals with 18. The Dawgs has also suffered a critical injury as leading rebounder Jailyn Ingram, a grad transfer from Florida Atlantic, was lost for the year after tearing his ACL just nine games into the season.
Offensively, the Bulldogs have been mediocre this season, ranking in the middle of the pack nationally in offensive efficiency. It has been defense that has let the Dawgs down this year, as they rank in the bottom half of Division I in most statistical defensive metrics. On the flip side, the Aggies rank in the top 100 nationally in offensive efficiency and in the top 50 in defensive efficiency. As long at the Aggies can manage their turnovers, continue to make shots, and avoid a free throw contest down the stretch, they should be in line for a 1-0 start to conference play.