Georgia basketball enters holiday tournament season

ATHENS – The Mike White Era of Georgia basketball continues Friday when the Bulldogs open play in the Greenlight Sunshine Slam tournament against Bucknell at Stegeman Coliseum.

The 7 p.m. home game represents the on-campus portion of three outings of a multi-team tournament that will continue with games Monday and Tuesday in Daytona Beach, Fla., at the Ocean Center. The tournament features two four-team brackets. The Bulldogs (2-1) are in the “Beach Bracket” with Saint Joseph’s, Alabama-Birmingham and South Florida. Bucknell (2-1) is in the “Ocean Bracket” quartet that also features Presbyterian, Austin Peay and Albany. All eight teams will play an on-campus contest against an opponent from the other bracket.

“Hoping we can be a little bit more sharp mentally, in transition defense and with our communication,” White said of the team’s first outing since beating Miami-Ohio 77-70 on Monday. “It’s been a long fall and these guys have really, really worked. We have had some long practices. Like everyone else we have been through some colds and flus and knees and ankles and soreness and all that.”

ExploreMore AJC coverage of the Bulldogs

The whole team seemed to have gotten a lift with the recent news that Jaxon Etter has been placed on scholarship. The 6-foot-4 guard from Woodstock was surprised by the announcement during what he thought was going to be a routine film session in the team meeting room.

“Obviously, being on scholarship is super relieving for me and my family and an honor, but the way my teammates mobbed me afterwards was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had,” said Etter, who average 3.0 points and 1.3 rebounds per game. “I have dreamt about that happening for the last two to three years, and the way it happened, I can’t fathom it any other way.”

Etter has reached expert level at being able to draw charges on defense. He has drawn three charges to date, upping his total to 41 in the past 45 contests, stretching to the end of his sophomore season.

“Jaxon is as accountable a player as I’ve ever coached,” White said. “If you asked him to try to run through the wall, he would try to run to the wall for Georgia basketball and for his teammates. He’s awesome.”

UGA is 2-0 all-time against Bucknell, securing victories during the 1972-73 and 1991-92 seasons in Athens.

The Bison use the long ball to help them score 84.0 points per game. They are shooting 55.4% from the field as a team, including 50% from 3-point range. As of Thursday, those percentages ranked No. 11 and No. 3 nationally, respectively.

Guards Terry Roberts and Kario Oquendo lead the Bulldogs with averages of 14.3 and 13 points per game, respectively. Georgia needs to clean up some when it comes to ball security. It’s minus-8 in turnover margin with 54 miscues.

Dawg Tags: The AJC presents a daily look at the one thing you need to know about Georgia athletics today.