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Mike White era opens as Georgia hosts Western Carolina

Sportsnaut
Oct 19, 2022; Birmingham, Alabama, US; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Mike White  during the SEC Basketball Media Days at Grand Bohemian Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia’s football program holds the spotlight with Saturday’s showdown against Tennessee in a matchup of unbeaten teams.

The expectations are considerably lower for Bulldogs basketball, coming off a disastrous six-win season, as the Mike White era gets underway Monday night against Western Carolina in Athens, Ga.

Georgia went 47-75 in four seasons under coach Tom Crean, finishing no higher than 10th in the SEC. Crean was fired March 10 and three days later, White was hired after going 142-88 in seven seasons at Florida, where he won at least 20 games four times.

This season, Georgia is picked 13th in the SEC preseason poll but the good news is the return of leading scorer Kario Oquendo, a second-team preseason All-SEC pick.

Last year, Oquendo averaged 15.2 points and 4.3 rebounds. He also reached double figures 23 times and finished with at least 20 points 10 times while also shooting 45.3 percent.

“He wants to help Georgia get going,” White said of Oquendo at last month’s media day. “He wants to win, and he wants to make us a competitive program.”

White also added Oklahoma State transfer Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe, hoping he can help them ascend along with Justin Hill, who averaged 14.2 points to help Longwood reach the NCAA Tournament last season.

The Bulldogs also added Terry Roberts, who averaged 14.5 points for Bradley last season, but he is taking some personal time away and will not play Monday.

Western Carolina was picked to finish eighth in the 10-team Southern Conference preseason poll after going 11-21 in coach Justin Gray’s first season. The Catamounts averaged 70.7 points but allowed a league-worst 77.3 points.

Their top returnees are Vonterius Woolbright (9.7 ppg) and Tyler Harris (7.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and the Catamounts added 12 newcomers, including Iowa State transfer Tre Jackson.

“The right kind of kid will be attracted to what we want to do and that was huge for our staff, and I think we’ve been able to do that,” Gray said. “So I’m super-excited to see how all that comes together.”

Georgia leads the all-time series 8-0 and outlasted the Catamounts for an 85-79 victory on Dec. 20, 2021.

–Field Level Media