The Trend As Of Late

ATHENS – Mark Fox says fatigue is not the culprit for his team's recent second half collapses.

That's not a viable crutch to lean on, the second-year coach at indicated Friday afternoon.

"We just haven't defended and rebounded as well in the second half," Fox said. "Yesterday, the first 10 minutes of the second half (in a loss to Florida) we couldn't get a stop, couldn't force a miss. There's been times when we haven't rebounded as well in the second half. It's something we have to correct."

And just how does a Georgia team, who at times has played so brilliantly for spurts in SEC play, improve for sustained success?

"I think they are aware of it," Fox said. "I think that we've got to be a little bit more—have better mental endurance. I think our concentration and ability to concentrate and be assignment sound for 40 minutes is not where it needs to be."

In Thursday's 71-62 loss to Florida, the Bulldogs squandered an early 11-point lead. The blown lead in Gainesville is the latest in a growing trend.

At Tennessee, Georgia led by eight at halftime, hanging on for the win after briefly losing the lead in the second half.

Against Vanderbilt, Georgia led by as many as 13 in the second half, only to lose the game.

Georgia led for most of the first hal-and at the half-against Xavier, but fell down the stretch in taking a loss at home.

The Bulldogs led by eight in the second half against Auburn, but needed overtime to secure a win over the Tigers, who are rated 271 in the RPI.

"The game is 40 minutes, and I think earlier in the year, for instance at Saint Louis, at Georgia Tech, even at Mercer, those were games where we were behind," Fox said. "We were behind, and we came back to win. In the last month it's been a little bit the opposite. I don't think it's the story of our year; it's just been a trend lately. We'll continue to work to get better. I think this team will continue to work to improve. I don't think we're at all where we could consider ourselves a finished product."

The easy scapegoat would be Georgia's lack of depth and little contribution from players off the bench. Of Georgia's bench players, only senior forward Chris Barnes is averaging more than 12 minutes a game. None are scoring more than four points a game (led by Sharard Brantley, at 3.6 per). But Fox insists his starters, his main contributors, are not faltering down the stretch because of fatigue.

"We've got to get a little more help out of our bench," Fox said. "But I don't think we're physically tired at all. For instance, last night we started the second half poorly after a halftime break. We've got to be able to stay mentally attached to what we're doing for a longer period of time."

Instead, players hinted after the Florida loss that the team has a tendency to get complacent after building early leads. Fox agrees with that sentiment.

"It's concentration—and it does take some effort to be mentally attached," Fox said There's no question."


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