Dawgs and Hawgs on the Hardcourt

ATHENS -- When Georgia's Jonas Hayes hit a 90-foot shot at the end of the Bulldogs' loss to LSU on Wednesday, Coach Dennis Felton was sick.

It wasn't because the basket was waved off and wouldn't have made a difference anyway in a four-point loss. It was because it felt to Dennis Felton like the first shot his team had hit since arriving in Baton Rouge.

"I thought it was unbelievably ironic because we couldn't hit a layup or a 3-pointer all night," he said. "Cruelly ironic."

The Bulldogs (9-8 overall, 1-5 SEC), who play Arkansas (10-7, 2-4) today at 5 p.m. in Stegeman Coliseum, haven't hit much of anything this year. They are last in the SEC in field goal percentage at 42 percent, and they haven't topped 40 percent in five straight games.

It's quite a turnaround from last year when Georgia hit more than 46 percent of its shots and led the SEC in scoring. The reversal is "more than frustrating," said Hayes, whose twin brother Jarvis led the Bulldogs in scoring last year before leaving school early to become an NBA lottery pick.

The problem is not shot selection, Felton said. Against LSU, the Bulldogs' "team offense was as good as it's been all year," he said, but the team shot just 39 percent and scored fewer than 60 points for the third straight game. (Three straight SEC games below 60 points is Georgia's worst streak since 2000.)

"We couldn't have prayed for better shots than we got against LSU," Felton said.

"It's just one of those things," said senior forward Chris Daniels, whose season scoring average has slipped below 10 because he's only scored in double digits once since Jan. 10. "All we can do is keep fighting and hope those shots go in the next time."

Felton didn't come away from the LSU game feeling all bad. For the second time in the last three games, he was very pleased with his team's defensive effort, particularly in light of its offensive struggles.

"That's a real challenge to play with that type of aggression ... especially when things aren't happening externally to energize you," he said.

LSU shot 53.8 percent from the field but only by virtue of having more athletic players than the Bulldogs, a fact Felton verified by watching the game on tape, he said.

"I wanted to see how they shot that high a percentage against us. I thought we played very good defense, and we did," he said, pointing out many of the Tigers' points came in the last seven seconds of the shot clock. "They were just able to jump a foot higher than us to catch a pass and a foot higher than us to score."

Hayes and Daniels predicted Georgia will continue to play hard on defense despite its struggles, but the strain of the offensive anemia is starting to show.

"Coach is always saying it, defense will keep you in games," Hayes said, "but defense well just keep you in the games. You've got to score some points."

Georgia vs. Arkansas
5 p.m./Stegeman Coliseum
Broadcast: FOXSS/
Records: Georgia 9-8 overall, 1-5 SEC; LSU 10-7, 2-4
Coaches: Georgia -- Dennis Felton (9-8, first season); Stan Heath (19-26, second season)
Arkansas starters: G Eric Ferguson, 6-1, So. (9.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg); G Ronnie Brewer, 6-6, Fr. (13 ppg, 3.6 apg); G Jonathan Modica, 6-4, So.
(17.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg); F Billy Pharis, 6-8, Sr. (7.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg); F Michael Jones, 6-9, Jr. (3.3 ppg, 1.4 rpg).
Georgia starters: G Rashad Wright, 6-3, Sr. (14.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg); G Levi Stukes, 6-1, Fr. (8.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg); F Damien Wilkins, 6-7, Sr. (12.7
ppg, 6 rpg); F Chris Daniels, 6-7, Sr. (10 ppg, 9.4 rpg); F Jonas Hayes, 6-7, Sr. (12.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg).
Outlook: Arkansas' Stan Heath is in the second year of his rebuilding phase in Fayetteville, while Georgia's Dennis Felton is only halfway
through year one. Heath and the Hogs seem to be making progress on the court, but Felton is also watching what's going on off the court. He
said Heath had a solid but not spectacular recruiting class in his first season (this year's freshmen) but is building one of the nation's best
recruiting classes this year. That looks a lot like what Felton is doing. He already has verbal commitments from two of the country's best
players -- guards Louis Williams and Mike Mercer -- for 2005. "I could see us having kind of the same path," Felton said. ... The Bulldogs have lost three straight, their longest SEC losing streak since 2000. ... Georgia's loss to LSU on Wednesday was the first time point guard Rashad Wright hasn't had an assist in his 55 career SEC games. Wright needs 11 assists to become Georgia's all-time leader in that category.

Next up: Georgia vs. Ole Miss, Athens, Wednesday, 7 p.m.

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