When Georgia and Ole Miss play tonight for the first time this basketball season, the Southeastern Conference’s top two scorers will be on display for the ESPN2 national television audience.
Shooting guards Marshall Henderson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope can light it up from behind the 3-point line.
They are not only 1-2 in scoring in the league, but also in 3-pointers made.
Henderson is scoring 19.5 points per game for the Rebels. Caldwell-Pope is averaging 17.7 an outing for the Bulldogs.
Their games, not to mention their personalities, aren’t as similar as those numbers might indicate.
“Totally different players,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “They’re wired different.”
The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Henderson can be flamboyant and over the top with his on-court displays that included taunting Auburn fans by grabbing a hold of his jersey and waving it after Ole Miss won on the road.
Caldwell-Pope, by comparison, is a “relatively quiet kid,” Fox has said.
Opposing coaches haven’t been quiet about their praise for the 6-foot-5, 205-pound sophomore.
“I think he’s a terrific player,” said Alabama coach Anthony Grant after Caldwell-Pope scored 22 points, nearly half of Georgia’s output in a 52-45 loss to the Crimson Tide on Tuesday night. “I think he’s a guy that needs to be in consideration for player of the year in the league for what he’s done. He’s very efficient. He plays on both ends extremely hard. He’s just a really good player, and I’m really impressed watching him on film and competing against him.”
Georgia (12-12, 6-5 SEC) usually goes slow while the Rebels (18-6, 7-4) can speed it up.
Georgia is second to last in the SEC and 327th in the nation in scoring at 59.0 points per game. Ole Miss leads the SEC and is fifth in the nation at 79.3 points per game.
Henderson, a native of Hurst, Texas, who transferred from South Plains (Texas) College after stops at Texas Tech and Utah, is a gunner.
He is jacking up the third most 3-point attempts per game in the nation, and is also third in 3-pointers. He had 19 shots against Tennessee and Kentucky and 18 against Mississippi State.
He’s cooled off some in the last week, making just 4 of 15 shots against Missouri and 4 of 11 against Texas A&M.
Caldwell-Pope is second in the SEC in 3-point attempts, but just 66th in the nation.
Although he’s played the same number of games as Henderson, he’s attempted nearly 100 fewer 3-pointers than Henderson.
Caldwell-Pope is 60 of 160 for 37.5 percent from behind the arc, fifth in the SEC.
Henderson is 93 of 259 for 35.9 percent, sixth in the conference.
“He’s a dynamic scorer,” Fox said. “He’s just a terrific shooter. He plays with no conscience. He just fills it up.”
Caldwell-Pope is shooting 50.8 percent in SEC games. That came after Caldwell-Pope averaged nearly 17 shots per game against Youngstown State, Southern Miss, Indiana and UCLA in November — all losses.
Fox talked to him in early December about his shot selection.
“He addressed that and that has been one of the things that have made him effective,” Fox said.
“I just used the offense to my advantage and take the open shots that they give me,” Caldwell-Pope said.
Against Texas A&M a week ago, Caldwell-Pope went 0-for-3 and still scored 10 points.
“I thought he still impacted the game because of the defensive attention that you have to give towards him,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said.
Caldwell-Pope didn’t have a good night offensively, but Fox said he didn’t get him enough shots.
He was 8 of 18 against Alabama, which said Fox was fine, except for an ill-advised shot before halftime that came too early.
Caldwell-Pope doesn’t want to be viewed as 3-point shooter only. He has a good mid-range game and leads the Bulldogs in rebounding at 6.4 per game.
“I just want to become an all-around player, just drive the ball and sometime post and shoot the ball,” said Caldwell-Pope, the only Bulldog averaging double figures.
Texas A&M’s Elston Turner just scorched Ole Miss for 37 points in an Aggies’ win on Wednesday after Caldwell-Pope helped hold him to 2 of 14 shooting in the previous game.
Now Caldwell-Pope will try to stop Henderson.
“He’s a great shooter, a great player,” Caldwell-Pope said. “We’ve just got to do a number on him.”
Georgia at Ole Miss
When: 8 p.m. today
Where: Tad Smith Coliseum, Oxford, Miss.
Radio: WRFC 960-AM.
Records: Ole Miss is 18-6, 7-4 SEC; Georgia is 12-12, 6-5 SEC.
Season at a glance: Georgia looks to bounce back from its first loss since Jan. 23. The Bulldogs fell to Alabama 52-45 on Tuesday night. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (22 points) and Nemanja Djurisic (12 points) accounted for all but 11 of Georgia’s points. Ole Miss started 6-0 in SEC play for first time in school history, was 17-2 overall and ranked as high as No. 16 in the nation before losing four of its last five games. The Rebels, seeking their first NCAA tournament bid since 2002, were beaten by Texas A&M 69-67 on Wednesday night in College Station. Ole Miss is tied for fourth in the SEC, a game ahead of sixth-place Georgia and Arkansas.
Probable starting lineups:
Georgia: G Vincent Williams (6-0, 165, Sr., 5.0 ppg, 2.1 apg); G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (6-5, 205, So., 17.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg ); F: Brandon Morris (6-7, 205, Fr., 4.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg); F Donte’ Williams (6-9, 225, Jr., 5.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg); C John Florveus (6-11, 240, Sr., 2.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg).
Ole Miss: G Jarvis Summers (6-3, 184, So., 8.9 ppg. 3.8 apg); G Marshall Henderson (6-2, 175, Jr., 19.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg); G LaDarius White (6-6, 210, So., 6.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg); F Reginald Buckner (6-9, 235, So, 9.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg.); F Murphy Holloway (6-7, 240, Sr., 14.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg).
Series record: Georgia leads 66-40, but the Rebels hold a 25-21 edge in Oxford. Ole Miss has won six of the last nine
Last meeting: Ole Miss won 66-63 on Jan. 21, 2012, in Athens in the team’s only meeting last season. Caldwell-Pope scored 25 for Georgia, which trailed by 14 in the second-half before rallying to within two in the final minute.
Noteworthy: Georgia has won three consecutive road games. It plays its next game also on the road at Arkansas on Thursday. Ole Miss is 12-1 at home. Its only home loss was an 87-74 setback to Kentucky on Jan. 29. “This is a big challenge because they’ve been good at home and they’ve got a good team,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. … Holloway is Ole Miss’ career leader in rebounds and is the active leader in the SEC. He is tied for the league lead this season with Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel. Buckner is sixth. … Georgia is third in the SEC in field goal percentage defense (39.1) while Ole Miss is seventh (40.6). … Ole Miss is second in the SEC in blocked shots at 5.5 per game. … Summers is 19th in the nation in assist/turnover ratio at 2.62. … The Rebels have two of the top nine scorers in the league in top scorer Henderson and Holloway, who is ninth. … Despite its recent slide, Ole Miss is projected as a No. 9 seed for the NCAA tournament by CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm.