Georgia & Florida get ready for critical game

ATHENS -- Georgia has made it to the final week of its basketball season with meaningful games remaining, surprising everyone except for the people its own locker room.

"I'm never going to be surprised by anything," said first-year coach Dennis Felton, who saw his team lose five of its first six conference games and then win five of its next eight. "I'd say I'm proud. I'm proud of the way we've fought all year and put ourselves in this position.

"We are in position to do something nobody expected, but winning these two games is critical to that."

The Bulldogs (14-11 overall, 6-8) have two more regular season games remaining. The first is tonight at 7 against Florida (17-8, 8-6) in Gainesville, Fla. The final game is Saturday at home against Vanderbilt, and the Bulldogs need to win both to feel good about their chances of receiving an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament.

"If we win these last two games, I don't think there's any question we'll be invited to the tournament," Felton said.

Felton even believes the Bulldogs have a shot if they split their final two games and finish 7-9 in the SEC. That would leave Georgia with just 15 wins overall, meaning it would almost certainly have to win at least one game in the SEC Tournament to have a chance.

"I just think 7-9 is a possibility without even thinking about the (SEC) tournament," Felton said. "Seven-and-nine puts us in the discussion."

The Bulldogs currently have an RPI of 50, according to, which tracks the influential ratings daily, and the team's strength-of-schedule, a big factor come Selection Sunday, is ranked 18th in the country. Georgia's main argument for inclusion centers on its big wins.

If the Bulldogs win today, it would make them 4-2 against the top 15 teams in the RPI and it would also give them a second road win. If Georgia loses today, it would end the season 1-9 on the road, a record that by itself might be enough to end their tournament chances.

"It would be a huge statement going on the road and beating (Florida)," Felton said.

Georgia has won in two of its last three trips to Gainesville, where the Gators are just 4-3 in conference games this season.

"It'll be tough to go to Florida and win one," senior Damien Wilkins said. "They're tough at home, but we've shown we're capable for beating them."

Georgia upset the Gators 76-62 on Feb. 17 in Athens.

The Bulldogs are split on the subject of how closely they follow their NCAA chances. Senior Chris Daniels said he keeps an eye of media outlets that project which teams will go to the NCAA Tournament such as, which on Tuesday had the Bulldogs listed as a No. 11 seed in the Big Dance. But Wilkins isn't interested in an outsider's opinion, he said.

"I know what is going on with my team," he said. "I don't need anybody to tell me anything until Selection Sunday."

Meanwhile, point guard Rashad Wright wants Georgia to take all of the suspense out of the chase by winning the next two games and the SEC Tournament in Atlanta and earning the subsequent automatic bid.

"We want to try to leave no doubt," he said.

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