Dawgs Look to Polish Things Up

ATHENS – Exams are done, there are no classes for three weeks, and the schedule looks easier.

Basically, the next five games should be a chance for the Georgia men's basketball team to breathe a bit.

Of course no one will quite say that.

"These teams are good teams," star forward Trey Thompkins said.

That's certainly debatable, considering the records of the next five opponents: Arkansas State (2-6), High Point (3-3), Mercer (2-7), Charleston Southern (2-6), Eastern Kentucky (3-5).

But the sentiment is probably a wise one, considering it comes the same week that No. 8 Tennessee was upset at home by unheralded Oakland.

In Georgia's case, it will just be happy to get a few comfortable wins. While it is 6-2, all of its wins have been by single digits, five of them by three points or less.

It will also be a relief to play four of the next five games at home. (The exception is next week at Mercer.) The Bulldogs have had one home game – Dec. 3 against UAB – since mid-November.

Georgia is also trying to get back in the flow after Thompkins missed the first three games with a high ankle sprain. He still isn't fully back to health, describing himself as "almost" at 100 percent on Friday.

This upcoming stretch could end up being vital for the team, since the SEC schedule affords no chance for warmups: The opener is against Kentucky, followed by trips to Vanderbilt and Mississippi, then home against Tennessee, Mississippi State and Florida – and then a trip to Rupp Arena.

And that's just the month of January.

So the next five nonconference games will be important, not just to pad the overall record, but to flesh out issues such as the rotation and the play of individual players. Guard Gerald Robinson referred to it as "basically polishing some things up."

"We have a critical stretch here before league play starts where we need to continue to improve, so when we're entering league play we're playing our best basketball," head coach Mark Fox said. "Because certainly the first part of our league schedule is difficult."

Still, Fox seems quite happy with the team's record thus far.

"For us not to play at home (much), to have Trey's injury, and to still be sitting where we are, we've gotten through it OK," Fox said. "Now we've just got to take advantage of our home court."

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