But after scoring 30 points — almost double his average — in Georgia's 88-84 upset win at No. 8 Kentucky Wednesday night, Hayes was willing to say this much about his team:
"We're a blip on the map right now,'' Hayes said Thursday. "We don't have everybody's respect, but we'll get it.''
Breaking a 16-game losing streak to Kentucky that began in 1994 and winning for only the third time in 53 attempts in Lexington, Georgia improved to 13-2 overall and 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference.
Georgia had not won as many as 13 of its first 15 games since 1931, when it finished 23-2. In 1990, the year Georgia won its lone SEC regular-season championship, it was 10-5 overall and 3-3 in the SEC after 15 games. Last year, the Bulldogs finished with only 16 wins.
Hayes and Ezra Williams (20 points) bombed the Wildcats with their 3-point shooting, while forwards Chris Daniels and Steve Thomas each finished in double figures in rebounding.
When Daniels landed in early foul trouble, Thomas stepped in with a strong defensive effort against Kentucky's Tayshaun Prince.
When Georgia needed a boost from its bench, Jonas Hayes scored 13 points.
When the game was on the line, Georgia played with poise and took advantage of opportunities.
Harrick noted each development with pride.
"I learned something about my team,'' Harrick said Thursday. "It's just one game in the league, but it's a mighty big game.''
Added Harrick: "We put ourselves in position to win the game and then we get a couple of good bounces that went our way. But it doesn't mean anything if we don't continue.''
Georgia plays host to Tennessee Saturday night at 7 in a game to be televised by Fox Sports South.
Georgia starts four sophomores and did not have a senior play Wednesday night.
"It's a mentally tough team, and that starts with (point guard) Rashad Wright,'' Harrick said. "He's got a winning attitude.''
Harrick called the long-awaited victory "a monumental win, confidence-wise'' and he said he does not expect the players to have a problem having their focus on Tennessee.
"I don't think it will be a problem getting ready,'' he said. "We're not going to win every game, but I think we'll be there close in most of them.''
With a win over Tennessee, Georgia almost certainly would move into next week's Top 25 for the first time this season.
"This is exactly why I transferred (from Western Carolina),'' said Jarvis Hayes. "No other reason, just playing in games like Kentucky and Tennessee.''
Added Hayes: "We're a very good team. We made a statement (Wednesday) night. I used to dream about games like that against teams like Arkansas and Kentucky. Now we have to keep it going.''
NOTES: The Georgia pep band and a small group of fans were waiting for the team at the Athens airport about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday night after the team's flight from Kentucky. ... Even before the win over Kentucky, a sellout was expected Saturday against Tennessee, assuming a good turnout from students. The sellout was all but assured Thursday.
Photo credit: UGA Sports Communications