ATLANTA — When starting forward Chris Daniels fouled out midway through the second half against Colorado Saturday night, Georgia's extreme shortage of players was highlighted Saturday night.
The fact that Georgia still found a way to win against a talented Colorado team shows that shortages in depth and height do not tell the full story of the Bulldogs' 5-0 start.
As Georgia prepares to visit the Georgia Dome for its first of two in-state battles in a six-day span, its players have reason to feel confident — no matter the roster limitations.
Georgia will be trying to avenge last season's loss to Georgia State and move to 6-0 for the first time since the 1982-83 season. With Jarvis Hayes, the team's second-leading scorer, expected to miss another week with a sprained knee, Georgia probably will again have only three inside players for tonight's 7:30 game against Georgia State, Friday night's home game against Minnesota and Sunday's home game against Georgia Tech.
In some ways, the loss of Hayes may be making Georgia a stronger team. Every player now knows he has to contribute, even Mike Patrick, who almost never played last season but logged 30 minutes against Colorado. Patrick wasn't just filling a spot on the floor; he scored eight points with three assists, two blocked shots and two steals.
"I was ready when (Coach Jim Harrick) put me in,'' Patrick said. "It was a lot more minutes than I've played in the past, but I'm ready to go. It was fun.''
Patrick, from Peachtree City, Ga., is a former walk-on but he has played in more games — 39 — than any other player on the team. Patrick, a 6-foot-4 guard, played in 25 games with 13 starts in the 1999-2000 season, and he may replace Tony Cole as a starter tonight.
"He's solid,'' said Harrick of Patrick. "He knows everything to the last degree. He will never take a bad shot.''
Patrick was needed when Daniels fouled out with 9:42 left to play against Colorado and Georgia trailing 58-57. Steve Thomas, Georgia's other starting forward, came into the game with four fouls but survived the rest of the way, scoring 10 points to help spark the win.
With the loss of Hayes, Georgia's scoring leaders have been Ezra Williams, who so far has found the consistency he lacked last season, and backup forward Jonas Hayes. Williams is averaging 21.4 points, including 26 against Colorado.
Jonas Hayes has helped pick up the slack for his twin brother and is averaging 11.0 points and 6.4 rebounds, including 17 points against Colorado.
"It is making us a stronger team, now that (Jarvis) is out,'' said Jonas Hayes. "The same thing happened to us in high school (at Atlanta's Douglass High) when he was out for a few games. Everybody had to play better.''
Georgia State (2-2) beat Georgia 91-79 in Athens last season for the first time and was picked by most preseason publications to again be the strongest team in the state this season.
Coming off a 29-5 NCAA tournament season, Coach Lefty Driesell's Panthers are still adjusting to the loss of Shernard Long, who was the Trans America Athletic Conference Player of the Year and scored 30 points against Georgia.
Georgia State still boasts power forward Thomas Terrell (6-7, 240), who could force Daniels and Thomas into more foul trouble. Terrell leads State in scoring (18.5 points per game) and rebounds (6.5).