Dawgs get ready for Cats

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Georgia's basketball fans should get used to the idea that the Bulldogs' current two-game losing streak can't be considered a slump, Coach Dennis Felton said.

His point is that his team is playing at the level most observers expected coming into the season.

"When have we ever looked like a team that should be running through the SEC?" Felton responded when asked about how to turn around his team's fortunes. "We're just fighting the good fight."

Georgia (8-5 overall, 0-2 SEC) teased its fan base with an 83-80 upset over then-No. 3 Georgia Tech two weeks ago. That was the first game in which the Bulldogs played with the consistency Felton desired, but Georgia didn't capitalize on the momentum and was beaten by a combined 45 points by Tennessee and South Carolina last week.

"It didn't take us long to get right back to a consistency issue," Felton said. "We're not a team searching for answers. The answers are right there. We're a team searching for the toughness to do things with the required consistency. That toughness takes years to develop."

Tubby Smith, whose No. 5 Kentucky Wildcats (11-1, 2-0) will play host to Georgia today at 1 p.m. in Rupp Arena, thinks Felton can turn the Bulldogs around, eventually.

"It just takes time," Smith said. "You can't do it all at once. Dennis has done it once before, at Western (Kentucky). He did a good job there. That's why he was selected at Georgia."

Felton coached his Western Kentucky team to an upset over the Wildcats in Rupp Arena early last season, giving him as many wins in the building as the Bulldogs have in the last 19 years. Georgia has won just three times in 54 games in Lexington, and nothing suggests it will up that total to four today.

Kentucky has won 21 straight SEC games. The streak is the ninth-longest in conference history and only the second time since 1969 a team has won more than 20 in a row in the conference.

"It is a point of pride," said Smith, who will go for his 300th career win today. "It says a lot about this group of young men and how they've been able to thrive under pressure."

Kentucky is led by Macon native Gerald Fitch. The Westside graduate is third in the SEC in scoring with 18.1 points per game and is first in the league in 3-pointers made with an average of more than three per game. He has hit 13 of his last 24 3-pointers.

The novelty of playing against his state school has long since passed, Fitch said.

"It kind of gets old," said the senior. "That's kind of a freshman thing."

Fitch is averaging 31.3 minutes per game but won't see that much action today if Smith has his way. The Wildcats only weakness this season has been depth. None of Kentucky's reserves is averaging more than 2.5 points per game, and even Smith acknowledged today's game might be a chance for him to give his reserves more playing time.

"(Georgia is) playing more inexperienced players than most teams we play so that should give me the courage to play more of those guys," Smith said, putting as positive a spin on the comment as he could.

It's doubtful Felton would take offense to the remark.

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