Dawgs get ready for Big Blue

ATHENS – Coach Dennis Felton tried to give leading scorer Levi Stukes an excuse.

"Levi is playing hurt and hadn't been on the court in three days, so he is rusty and a little weak," Felton said after Stukes missed all eight of his shots Wednesday night in a 59-54 loss to Ole Miss. "His legs aren't under him, so that's understandable."

Stukes, a sophomore shooting guard, also was bothered by a slight hip injury in the previous game, when he hit just five of 18 shots, but he admitted this week, "I can't really blame it on my hip as much as I want to."

Another possibility, although one that Stukes denies, is that Georgia's guards are beginning to stumble under the pressure of having to carry the offense.

Point guard Sundiata Gaines, the Bulldogs' second-leading scorer behind Stukes, is 2-for-20 in the last two games.

Today is not a good day for the Bulldogs (6-7, 0-3 SEC) or their guards to get well. They face No. 9 Kentucky at 1 p.m. in Stegeman Coliseum. The Wildcats (11-2, 2-0 SEC) lead the SEC in scoring defense by allowing just 58.4 points per game.

The Bulldogs, meanwhile, are last in the conference in scoring (66.7 points per game), scoring margin (minus-1.9), shooting (42.4 percent) and 3-point shooting (32.4 percent).

Georgia views the game as an opportunity to provide just the kind of boost it needs after losing four straight games.

"If we beat Kentucky, everybody is still going to be talking down about us, but we're going to come out here and give it our all, and hopefully we'll come out with a win," Gaines said.

He and Stukes will have to play better for that to happen. They are shooting a combined 15 percent in the last two games but insist it has nothing to do with pressing themselves to do too much.

"I don't think we feel like that," Stukes said. "We just know we can do a lot of stuff on the court that some of our other guys can't."

It's plain, though, as Gaines said, that, "Right now, the points are coming from the guards. The guards came in here knowing we were going to have a lot of playing time. We have had to come in and learn fast."

Almost 60 percent of the Bulldogs' total points this year have come from Stukes, Gaines and freshman guard Channing Toney.

"We're trying to get our post players to contribute more and make it more of a complete effort," Gaines said.

Until that happens, Stukes and Gaines are going to have to find their target much more often.

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