(Photo credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)
The Georgia men's basketball team seems lost in the shadow of the school's powerhouse football squad.
On Friday afternoon in Nassau, Bahamas, the Bulldogs (2-1) will try to earn some headlines of their own when they oppose the 12th-ranked Miami Hurricanes (3-0) in the first round of the Baha MarHoops Bahamas Championship.
Mike White, who is in his second season coaching Georgia, has just one returning starter, forward Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe, who is averaging three points per game off the bench this season. Wing Jabri Abdur-Rahim, a reserve last season, leads the team in scoring at 16 points per game.
Georgia's new starters include 7-foot center Russel Tchewa, who transferred from South Florida; Noah Thomasson, a transfer from Niagara; RJ Melendez, a transfer from Illinois; and true freshman Silas Demary Jr.
Thomasson, who ranks second on the team in scoring (9.7 ppg), said White is a big reason why he transferred to Georgia.
White took over a 6-26 team and went 16-16 last season. He is trying to turn around a program that has made the NCAA Tournament just three times in the past 20 years.
"He's a heck of a person," Thomasson said of White. "He's made me feel like I'm family."
Tchewa, who is averaging 7.3 points, leads the Bulldogs in rebounds (six per game). Demary is averaging 9.3 points, and Melendez averages eight points.
Miami, meanwhile, is coming off a shaky 86-80 win over cross-town rival Florida International on Monday. The Hurricanes were beaten 16-7 on the offensive boards, and the Panthers had a 24-2 advantage on second-chance points.
The Hurricanes trailed by 12 points with 16:10 left before putting together a 19-0 run.
"I'm proud of our guys for hanging in there," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said.
On the positive side, Miami shot the ball exceptionally well -- 58.5 percent from the floor, including 13-for-21 (61.9 percent) from 3-point range.
For the season, Miami is led in scoring by Wooga Poplar (20.7 ppg). The 6-5 guard has a sweet stroke and is shooting 57.1 percent from the floor, including an incredible 14-for-20 on 3-point tries (70 percent).
All five Miami starters are averaging double figures, including center Norchad Omier, who is powerfully built at 6-7, 240 pounds. Omier, who is averaging 15 points and a team-high 11 rebounds, is 5 inches shorter and 35 pounds lighter than Georgia center Tchewa.
The Hurricanes, who made it to the Final Four last season, added one transfer this year: Matthew Cleveland, a 6-7 wing from Florida State. He has been impressive so far, averaging 17 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
Miami point guard Nijel Pack is averaging 12 points and a team-high 5.7 assists. Those numbers are fine, but Pack has yet to truly hit his stride this season. He is shooting just 27.3 percent on 3-point attempts after hitting better than 40 percent in his previous three seasons (the first two at Kansas State).
Miami's fifth starter is Bensley Joseph, who is the team's most improved player. His scoring average is up from 5.3 last season to 14 currently.
The winner of the Friday game will oppose either Kansas State or Providence in the Baha Mar final on Sunday. The Friday losers will face off in the consolation game.
--Field Level Media