Georgia will look to improve to 5-0 when it hosts Samford in a nonconference game Saturday in Athens, Ga.
The Bulldogs defeated Florida A&M, North Georgia, Jacksonville and Montana by at least 13 points, but they might face their toughest test of the season against Samford (2-1), which has won two straight.
Early-season success is uplifting for Georgia, which was picked to finish 13th out of 14 teams in the Southeastern Conference in the preseason media poll after two starters — Anthony Edwards and Rayshaun Hammonds — departed for the NBA.
Edwards, who averaged a team-high 19.1 points per game last year, was taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the first pick overall while Hammonds (12.9 ppg) signed a free agent contract with the Indiana Pacers after going undrafted.
Georgia, which is coming off a 63-50 victory over Montana on Tuesday, has relied on a balanced offensive attack led by Sahvir Wheeler. The guard has been terrific after setting the school’s freshman assists record with 139 last year.
Wheeler has posted double-doubles in three of four games so far, and he is averaging a team-high 14.8 points and 9.3 assists per game.
“The bottom line is you have to be a very unselfish young man, not just somebody who can pass and see, but who can also score and make plays,” Georgia coach Tom Crean said. “You must have good decision-making skills, then obviously to get the assist, people have to put the ball in the basket.”
And that’s just what Wheeler’s teammates have done. Three of Wheeler’s teammates are averaging in double figures: Toumani Camara (14.3 ppg), Andrew Garcia (11.5) and P.J. Horne (10). Justin Kier averages 9.7 points per game.
Georgia is shooting 47.9 percent from the field, which is an improvement on last year’s team, which shot 45.1 percent while going 16-16.
Samford, which plays in the Southern Conference, is led by Myron Gordon, who contributes 19.5 points per game to lead an offense that features four players averaging double-figure scoring. He is joined by Christian Guess (15.7 ppg), Logan Dye (15.3), A.J. Staton-McCray (11.7) and Jacob Tryon (11).
Samford is coming off a 96-83 win at Belmont on Dec. 5 in a game in which Gordon posted 23 points and 10 rebounds while Tryon and Staton-McCray added 16 and 15 points, respectively.
Samford made news early in the season when it scored 174 points in an exhibition win over Division III Greenville (Ill.) on Nov. 25. It was a victory that showed Samford’s players their potential as a team.
“We bought in right away, and we’re all on the same page,” Gordon told SI.com. “We’ve all felt like this was gonna be a special season.”
–Field Level Media