Turkey Day TV? Dawgs Get Irish

ATHENS – Georgia men's basketball head coach Mark Fox put his schedule together this year with building an NCAA tournament resume' in mind.

He didn't have in mind that he'd be without his star player for the early portion of it.

But that appears to be the case as the Bulldogs enter the toughest stretch so far, beginning Thursday at the Old Spice Classic.

The good news for the Bulldogs? The absence of Trey Thompkins may not hurt them much in the long run, and they're already showing glimpses of being able to win without the preseason SEC player of the year.

Thompkins was just cleared to begin practicing on Tuesday. He has missed Georgia's first three games with a high ankle sprain, and is doubtful for this weekend's three games in Orlando.

"Trey obviously wants to be back out there," Fox said on Monday. "The key for us is getting him healthy, realizing it's a long year and we won't let him practice until he's healthy enough to do so. We won't let him play until he's healthy enough to do so. I think they key is just everybody's body responds differently."

Georgia has won its first three games without Thompkins, including a come-from-behind, last-second win at Saint Louis. But that may prove to be the easiest opponent of this two week stretch.

First up is Notre Dame (4-0), a perennial NCAA contender. The Fighting Irish leading scorer so far has been Ben Hansbrough, the former Mississippi State guard and brother of former North Carolina star Tyler Hansbrough.

Friday's game will be against either No. 21 Temple (2-0) or California (2-0). The other side of the bracket is Wisconsin (2-1), Boston College (2-1), Texas A&M (3-0) and Manhattan (2-1).

It doesn't get any easier next week for Georgia, with games against UAB and Georgia Tech. UAB (3-1) suffered its only loss at Arizona State, and with the struggles of Alabama and Auburn, seems to clearly be the best team in its state.

But any game the Bulldogs lose without Thompkins may not cost them too much in the subjective eyes of the NCAA committee. And just playing some of these games should help the team's RPI and schedule strength ratings.

Plus, the win at Saint Louis may prove to be a confidence-building one for the Bulldogs, who didn't win a single road game last season.

"We've had three games that will hopefully help us down the road," Fox said. "We haven't had any garbage time. We've had some, you know, we've had 120 minutes of competitive games. And especially without Trey…we've had some battles, and hopefully that will prove advantageous later on."

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