If Georgia, which won its last three games at home, beats South Carolina at 7:30 p.m. in The Colonial Center, it will be just its second road win of the season.
"We've struggled with that so far, but we have to find a way to get
done the next two games," senior forward Chris Daniels said.
Winning in Columbia, S.C., has been particularly tough on the
Bulldogs, who have done it just once since 1994. That victory came last
year and stopped the Gamecocks' eight-game home winning streak in the
series. The Gamecocks (20-7 overall, 7-6 SEC) have already beaten
Georgia in Athens this year, 84-63 on Jan. 10.
Tonight's game and Wednesday's at Florida are critical to the
Bulldogs' NCAA Tournament hopes, which have unexpectedly sprung to life
in the last two weeks. Georgia (14-10 overall, 6-7 SEC), which started
the SEC season 1-5, probably needs to win at least one of them to have a
chance at an at-large bid.
One road win in the next five days coupled with a home win over
Vanderbilt in the season finale would leave the Bulldogs at least .500
in the conference, which Coach Dennis Felton feels would be good enough
for an NCAA berth.
"I'm positive of that," he said.
Now it's just a matter of winning in an opponent's gym. The only time
Georgia has done that this year came in the unlikeliest place of all,
Kentucky's Rupp Arena, where the Bulldogs beat the 'Cats 65-57 on Jan.
Georgia is 1-5 in SEC road games and 1-7 overall on the road overall.
"We just haven't figured out how hard we need to play on the road
yet," Daniels said. "We always come out flat for some reason."
The frantic and exhausting style of defense the Bulldogs have used to
win their last three games is harder to pull off on the road, senior
point guard Rashad Wright said.
"We have to keep focused and bring that intensity and aggressiveness
we have at home and carry it on the road," he said. "It's tough to do
the road because at home the fans are behind you and your adrenaline is
up. We just have to keep in mind that we need to have that inside
Felton, predictably, isn't interested in his player's theory about
needing external motivation to keep the intensity level at full
throttle. He said that's only a factor "if you're soft, but we don't
want to be soft."
"I don't care where we play, I expect to win," he said.
"We go into
every game with the same expectation of winning."
Georgia vs. South Carolina
7:30 p.m./The Colonial Center, Columbia, S.C.
Broadcast: No TV
Records: Georgia 14-10 overall, 6-7 SEC; South Carolina 20-7, 7-6
Coaches: Georgia -- Dennis Felton (14-10, first season); South Carolina
-- Dave Odom (54-38, third season)
South Carolina starters: G Josh Gonner, 6-2, Jr. (11.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg); G
Mike Boynton, 6-2, Sr. (9.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg); F Tarence Kinsey, 6-6, So.
(8.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg); F Brandon Wallace, 6-9, Fr. (3.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg); C
Rolando Howell, 6-9, Sr. (8.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg).
Georgia starters: G Rashad Wright, 6-3, Sr. (13.9 ppg, 3 apg); G Levi Stukes, 6-1, Fr. (8.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg); F Damien Wilkins, 6-7, Sr. (13.2
ppg, 5.7 rpg); F Chris Daniels, 6-7, Sr. (9.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg); F Jonas Hayes, 6-7, Sr. (12.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg).
Outlook: South Carolina has lost four of five since a torrid start to
open its season, but Georgia coach Dennis Felton still is wary. In fact,
Felton said there is little difference between the Gamecock team Georgia
will face today and the one that hammered the Bulldogs 84-63 in the
second game of the SEC season. "I haven't picked up on anything that
indicates they're playing any different than they were the first time,"
Felton said. The Gamecocks are tied with Florida and Vanderbilt for
second place in the SEC East, and, amazingly, Georgia is only one game
behind that trio. If the Bulldogs were to win their final three
regular-season games, they would finish second in the division despite
starting the conference schedule 1-5. Georgia is coming off its second
bye week of the season, which could be key. The last time the Bulldogs
got a week off, they responded by beating Kentucky 65-57 in Lexington, Ky. Georgia took off three of the six days since its last game in an
attempt to rest its five starters, who all play long minutes. ...
Today's return to Columbia brings back bittersweet memories for the
Bulldogs. The last time they went, March 9 of last year, they stopped an
eight-game losing streak in Columbia. However, the next day, the
school's administration pulled the Bulldogs from postseason play due to
an NCAA investigation. "I just remember we won, and it was our last
game," Rashad Wright said.
Next up: Georgia at Florida, Wednesday, 7 p.m., Gainesville, Fla.
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