Primer: Back in action

Robert Morris will be playing the University of Georgia tonight. Here are some things to know…

Robert Morris (2-10) at Georgia (6-3)
When: Tuesday, Dec. 29 at 7:00 p.m.
Where: Stegeman Coliseum; Athens, Georgia
KenPom: RMU 276, Georgia 57
KenPom Line: Georgia -14
How to follow: SEC Network on television,, ESPN Radio 970 AM
Storyline: Robert Morris ends a difficult season of conference play against an SEC opponent. Georgia, a year removed from an NCAA tournament birth, are winners of three straight.

Getting to know the Bulldogs: Happy holidays, Robert Morris is 2-10! This certainly hasn’t been the fun, charming season anyone was hoping for following a tournament birth, but Robert Morris has an important game to play before kicking off NEC play Saturday.

Georgia: not great, but still a solid high-major team who is expected to roll Robert Morris but pay them a lump sum of money in the process. This is what we call a “buy” game folks, where the big school pays the small school for an ass kicking.

RMU will hope to flip that script. To do so, they’ll have to slow two guys: sophomore forward Yante Maten and junior point guard J.J. Frazier. Maten and Frazier lead the team in scoring with 15.9 and 15.2 points-per-game respectively. Maten has been especially impressive, not just scoring, but doing so efficiently. Listed at 6-foot-8, 240 pounds, he’ll be a lot to handle.

The versatile Charles Mann is having a poor first few months to the year, but he’s still someone RMU has to keep an eye on. Mann epitomizes what Georgia is all about offensively: versatility and aggressiveness. Mann can handle the ball and run an offense but profiles more as a small forward. He’s not going to shoot a lot of threes (5 of 11 on the year) but wants to get to the rim and attack.

Georgia really only has two guys that can beat you from three. Frazier is 19-56 (39 percent) and shooting guard Kenny Gaines, third on the team in scoring at 13.8 points-per-game, is 23-52 (44 percent) from beyond the arc. No one else on the team has more than 19 attempts. It speaks volumes about how much the offense will run through the big men.

Georgia is a much better defensive team than they are offensive. They’re holding opponents to 94.5-points-per-100-possession, the 26th-best defensive efficiency mark in the country. They don’t force a lot of turnovers and they aren’t the best rebounding team, but they will hound you until all of that Christmas dinner is worked off.

Matching up? It’s hard to say RMU, especially at 2-10, matches up well with any high-major opponent. However, it would be foolish to discount the Colonials completely. I say this for a few reasons:

-History: Robert Morris has played a decent high-major school as their last non-conference game three years in a row. For reference, they were Clemson, Alabama and Arkansas dating back to the 2012-2013 season. In those three games, they’ve lost by seven, eight and five points, respectively. This is usually the time RMu starts to turn it on and play good opponents tougher. That shouldn’t change tonight.

-Georgia’s track record: Georgia is good, but not great. They’ve lost games to Chattanooga, Seton Hall and Kansas State. They survived tough games against High Point and Oakland. They’re a solid basketball tam but this isn’t a team primed to make a championship run.

-Styles: The Bulldogs are a big, slow basketball team. I don’t mean literally slow (I haven’t challenged any of their players to a foot race) but slow in tempo. They’re not a team ready to run up and down the floor. They won’t beat you with the three ball. They want to throw the ball inside and pound away.

In some cases, i think this will benefit RMU. Yes, defensively, handling their bigs will be a problem, but the 2-3 zone is a perfect way to make things difficult to get the ball inside. Dare some of these guys to shoot threes. On the other end, Robert Morris can count on shooting the three ball to carry them. This is a program that lives and dies by the three. That’ll be the case again.

Easy? Hell no. Winnable? Time to get rolling.

–Chris Cappella


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