Most of Khaalidah Miller’s contributions in her Georgia career have come through her outside shooting.
So when Miller’s marksmanship dipped this season, it took most of her production with it.
But last Sunday, Miller posted her best game of the season as she set a career scoring high to help Georgia upset Kentucky on the road.
“It’s pretty tough when you’re struggling with your shot, honestly it is,” Miller said. “When I know that that’s what I do best and that’s what I’m known for doing best is shooting. It’s really tough when that’s not working for you. It makes you want to kind of decrease in other areas and you lose confidence. I did lose confidence at one point then I decided not to let it get to me anymore.”
No. 9 Georgia (19-3, 7-2 in the Southeastern Conference) hosts Auburn (13-9, 2-7) at 7 p.m. on Thursday in Stegeman Coliseum. Georgia comes off of a 75-71 upset of then-No. 8 ranked Kentucky in Lexington that snapped the Wildcats’ 34-game home winning streak. Miller scored 25 points in that game and was named SEC Player of the Week for the first time in her career on Monday.
“It’s been up and down,” Miller said. “I’ve had good games and I’ve had bad games. But I haven’t let it get me down. I’ve just kept playing to the best of my ability.”
Miller was a career 34.2-percent shooter from the 3-point line and had averaged 10.6 points a game going into her junior season. But Miller’s outside touch drifted away much of her junior year. Going into the Kentucky game Miller had hit 27 of 101 (27.7 percent) from the 3-point line and had briefly lost her starting spot to freshman Tiaria Griffin.
“It has been a really up and down season for her,” Georgia guard Jasmine James said. “We had just talked last week about some things that needed to chance and some things that she needed to work on. She really took it to heart. She went out and practiced and worked hard. She went out and did a lot of extra stuff. She kind of changed her whole attitude toward things and you were able to see that in practice as well as games. She did a really good job last week not just scoring but going out and contributing in a lot of places.”
Miller scored a team-high 11 points and had four steals in Georgia’s 65-59 win against Alabama last Thursday. Then Miller hit 7 of 12 from the field (5-for-9 from the 3-point line) and scored a career-high 25 against Kentucky. Ironically, Miller’s previous career high was 24 set at Kentucky in 2011.
“There have been some inconsistencies and you’re going to have those with anyone,” Georgia coach Andy Landers said. “I think the biggest thing that, regardless of how she played Sunday, I want to see Khaalidah do is continue to become better. That encompasses the entire game whether it’s shooting the basketball or rebounding the basketball or defending the basketball. That’s the area that has troubled me the most. You’re into your junior year. If you’re going to find out how good you can be as a college basketball player you’ve got to push that envelope.”
Miller goes into the Auburn game hitting 33 of 110 (30 percent) from the 3-point line and averages 10 points a game. She also averages 3.5 rebounds a game and is fourth on the team with 29 steals and third with 36 assists.
“It’s really easy to sulk,” Miller said. “That was really tough. But I tried to keep my head high. It’s not just about me. It’s about the team. I can’t be selfish and just worry about myself and how I’m playing.”
A CLOSER LOOK
Auburn at Georgia
When: 7 p.m. on Thursday.
Where: Stegeman Coliseum.
Radio: WRFC 960-AM.
TV: Premium portion of georgiadogs.com.
Records: Georgia is 19-3, 7-2 in the SEC; Auburn is 13-9, 2-7.
Rankings: Georgia is No. 9, Auburn is unranked.
Probable starting lineups:
Auburn: G Najar Ovardad (Sr., 5-1, 5.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg); G Hasina Muhammad (So., 6-1, 15.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg); F Tyrese Tanner (Jr., 6-1, 12.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg); F Blanche Alverson (Sr., 6-3, 11.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg); C Peyton Davis (Jr., 6-5, 6.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg).
Georgia: G Jasmine James (Sr., 5-9, 11.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg); G Khaalida Miller (Jr., 5-9, 10.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg); G Shacobia Barbee (Fr., 5-10, 5.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg); F Anne Marie Armstrong (Sr., 6-3, 7.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg); F Jasmine Hassell (Sr., 6-2, 11.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg).
Series record: Georgia leads 24-16, including 15-4 in Athens.
Last meeting: Georgia bat auburn 70-45 in 2012 at Auburn.
Season at a glance: Georgia has won three straight and comes off of a 75-71 win at Kentucky on Sunday. Auburn has lost six straight and comes off of a 59-51 defeat at South Carolina on Sunday.
Noteworthy: Georgia needs one more victory to hit the 20-win plateau for the 28th time under Andy Landers. … Georgia’s Khaalidah Miller scored a career-high 25 points at Kentucky to earn the SEC’s player of the week honor. … Anne Marie Armstrong had her first double-digit scoring game in SEC play with 12 points against Kentucky. … Georgia has won five straight against Auburn in Athens. … First-year Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy was an assistant with Landers at Georgia from 1996-2002. … Former Georgia All-American Sherill Baker is now Auburn’s Director of Basketball Services. She played at Georgia from 2002-06 and is the Lady Bulldogs’ No. 10 all-time scorer.