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Post Milestone win propels Lady Dogs into final week of the season

Tuesday February 26, 2013

For Andy Landers, an uneventful win at Ole Miss is newsworthy. Despite the vast gulf in class between the two programs over the years, Oxford has always been a bit of a tar pit for the Lady Dogs. Georgia entered Sunday’s game just one game over .500 in 15 games at Mississippi. But a pair of double-digit runs to start each half (13-0 in the first half and 12-0 in the second) put to rest any concerns of an upset. Andy Landers notched his 900th career victory with a 73-54 win over Ole Miss. Georgia has won three in a row and stands at 23-4 overall and 11-3 in SEC play, good enough for a tie for second place in the conference.

The Lady Dogs enter the final week of the regular season with a good shot at claiming second place outright thanks to Sunday losses by Kentucky and Texas A&M. Georgia is currently tied with those two teams at 11-3, but the schedule is much more favorable for Georgia. Kentucky and A&M both face Tennessee this week while Georgia’s toughest test will come on Sunday at home against Vanderbilt. Tennessee has had some shaky moments though, and there’s a small but not insignificant chance that we could see a four-way tie for first place at 13-3.

First things first, though. Georgia has to do its part and handle its final two games. Road trips are never a given (see Tennessee’s improbable loss at Missouri), and Mississippi State has won three of its last four home games. It should at the very least be a tougher game than Ole Miss was. Vanderbilt is going through some rebuilding this year, but they’ve begun to figure things out. They’ve won two in a row with attention-getting wins over Florida and Texas A&M. Georgia will host Vandy on Sunday in what figures to be a very emotional Senior Day. The Lady Dogs will bid farewell to seven seniors, and you never know how the team will respond.

One of those seniors has been the constant during Georgia’s streak of seven wins in their last eight games. Forward Jasmine Hassell has posted four double-doubles over the last five games, most recently 23 points and 10 rebounds at Ole Miss. Though the seniors will be in the spotlight on Sunday, an outstanding freshman class has made a big difference on this year’s team. Tiaria Griffin added 12 points at Ole Miss, and Shacobia Barbee earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors for strong games against Arkansas and Ole Miss. The contribution of the freshmen make this team fairly deep – an unusual luxury for an Andy Landers squad – but they’ll need more consistent offense from seniors Jasmine James and Anne Marie Armstrong to be a postseason contender.

The SEC Tournament begins next week in Duluth, and Georgia will have the small advantage of being the “home” team in any game not involving Tennessee. Georgia’s seeding and the rest of the SEC standings should be determined by Sunday evening.

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