Dawgs Fighting for Lives at Home

ATHENS -- Georgia opens its conference home schedule Saturday at Stegeman Coliseum, and already the Bulldogs are fighting for their lives.

Georgia, which is coming off a 24-point loss to Tennessee, will play South Carolina Saturday at 5 p.m. The loser will fall into sole possession of last place in the SEC East. Normally such things don't matter in the first week of conference play, but the Bulldogs (8-4 overall, 0-1 SEC) may never emerge if they slip into the cellar this early.

A road game against No. 7 Kentucky awaits after Saturday's game, and three of Georgia's next four are on the road.

"They're going to be more determined to win (because of the loss)," South Carolina coach Dave Odom said. "You're going to face a Bulldog team that feels it has to defend its home court and has something to prove."

Georgia, which entered the season with four players with collegiate experience, has yet to prove it can even be competitive against SEC competition. The Bulldogs never challenged Tennessee and demonstrated by getting into early foul trouble how far their reserves have to go to be ready to contribute.

"We'll make due with what we have," senior forward Jonas Hayes said. "We'll be all right."

The Gamecocks also lost their SEC opener, falling 65-62 at home to No. 14 Florida.

"The job of the coaches on the short end of the stick is to get a good and very positive turnaround," Odom said.

South Carolina had built a gaudy 13-1 pre-conference record against a schedule that included the likes of Yale, Campbell and Gardner-Webb, so it's still unclear what kind of fight the Gamecocks will put up in the SEC. Georgia coach Dennis Felton is impressed with what he's seen, though.

The Gamecocks lead the SEC in scoring defense, allowing just 55.7 points per game, and also in field goal percentage allowed (35.4 percent) and 3-point field goal percentage allowed (24.5 percent).

"They are very, very quick and athletic," Felton said. "(Defense) is what has brought them their sterling record so far. We're certainly going to have to be able to run offense as a team."

Georgia vs. South Carolina
5 p.m./Stegeman Coliseum
Records: Georgia 8-4 overall, 0-1 SEC; South Carolina 13-2, 0-1 

Coaches: Georgia -- Dennis Felton (8-4, first season); South Carolina -- Dave Odom (47-33, third season)

South Carolina starters: G Michael Boynton, 6-2, Sr. (10.2 ppg, 2 apg); G Josh Gonner, 6-1, Jr. (9.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg); F Tarence Kinsey, 6-6, So. (11.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg); F Kerbrell Brown, 6-8, Sr. (8.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg); F Carlos Powell, 6-7, Jr. (14.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg).

Georgia starters: G Rashad Wright, 6-3, Sr. (14.3 ppg, 3.5 apg); G Levi Stukes, 6-1, Fr. (8.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg); F Damien Wilkins, 6-7, Sr. (13.9
ppg, 5.5 rpg); F Chris Daniels, 6-7, Sr. (10.2 ppg, 10.4 rpg); F Jonas Hayes, 6-7, Sr. (14.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg).

Outlook: The South Carolina player who worries the Bulldogs the most is Carlos Powell, who is one of the league's top scorers and rebounders. His athletic style will be a difficult matchup for any of Georgia's players other than Chris Daniels and Damien Wilkins, and the Bulldogs proved early this week in Tennessee, that it can't afford to have either of those players in foul trouble. "It's difficult to stop (Powell)," Coach Dennis Felton said. Freshman guard Levi Stukes is coming off a career-high 18 points on 7 of 9 shooting in the loss to the Volunteers.
As of Friday evening, there were still 600 tickets remaining for this game and they will be on sale at Booth 2 Saturday starting at 3:30 p.m. The
first 2,500 fans in the doors today will receive a free Damien Wilkins growth chart.

Next up: Georgia at Kentucky, Rupp Arena, Jan. 17, 1 p.m., JP-TV


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