Dawgs have not lost fight

ATHENS – Not much is going right for the Georgia basketball team.

The Bulldogs have won just one game heading into tonight's 7:30 contest against Gardner-Webb (4-1), and the reasons are obvious. They are dead last in the 12-team SEC in an unbelievable nine categories -- scoring offense, scoring margin, free throw percentage, field goal percentage, 3-point field goal percentage, 3-pointers made, rebounding defense, assists and turnover margin.

But at least they haven't lost their fight. They showed that Sunday night in an 87-49 loss to Georgia Tech when sophomore forward Steve Newman squared off briefly with the Yellow Jackets' Isma'il Muhammad after the two bumped into each other heading to their benches. Tech's Jarrett Jack, Georgia's Levi Stukes and others were quick to the scene, and Newman and Jack ended up being whistled for technical fouls. The Bulldogs (1-3) were down by 27 points and out of the game when the shoving started, and the fact that Georgia had any will left is one of the little things Coach Dennis Felton can feel good about this season.

"We want to be the most physical and most aggressive team on the court within the rules and within the context of the game," Felton said. "The most aggressive team wins."

The Bulldogs want to make sure they are the team "doling it out, not taking it," he said.

Along with everything else, that's a challenge for Georgia. Its youth (only one player on the roster is an upperclassmen) means the players are unaccustomed to the rigors of college basketball and haven't spent much, if any, time in a collegiate weight-lifting program.

"We're physically overmatched at a lot of position on the court most nights," Felton said.

Center David Bliss and walk-on guard Alex Evans are the Bulldogs' two toughest players, Felton said, but Newman seems to be their most feisty. He practiced Tuesday with a black left eye thanks to a physical play in the Alabama A&M game and always seems to be somewhere near when elbows are flying or the shoving starts.

"It's definitely part of my role to keep the team aggressive and keep us fighting for every inch we can get," said the sophomore, who's a veteran by Georgia's standards this year.

If the losses keep piling up like many observers predict, the Bulldogs will face two challenges – keeping their will to fight and making sure that will doesn't turn into frustrated stupidity.

"You try never to do anything that isn't within the lines of play," Newman said, "but you still try to be aggressive."

Maintaining the right attitude throughout the year will require lots of mental toughness, Felton said, which is one of his constant themes to his team.

"We just want to let everyone know we're going to be aggressive and you can't make us back down," Newman said. "It's vital to us."

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