COLUMBIA, S.C. — Dave Odom was still the Wake Forest coach when he was given his first hint of the infusion of talent that has boosted Georgia this season.
Two of Odom's friends from the Southern Conference called him two years ago to let him know about rumors that Jarvis and Jonas Hayes were exploring a possible transfer from Western Carolina.
"Both of those coaches told me if I could get into the mix, I should do it,'' Odum said this week. "We did make a couple of calls just to investigate the situation. By the time we got further along, the decision had been made for them to go to the University of Georgia.''
While the Hayes twins have surprised some Southeastern Conference observers, Georgia coach Jim Harrick knew he had some special players last year when the two were restricted to practice in their redshirt seasons. Led by the Hayes brothers, the Georgia backups consistently beat the starters in scrimmage games.
|"Ninety-five percent of the time in practice last year, the second team beat the first team and I knew why, because of Jarvis and Jonas Hayes,'' Harrick said.
Now, as sophomores, Jarvis Hayes is averaging 17.4 points per game to rank among the SEC leaders and Jonas Hayes has performed well both as a starter and backup. Harrick said it wasn't as if he knew the Hayes brothers would make such a big impact; he just knew Georgia needed help.
|Dave Odum knew that Jonas and Jarvis would power Georgia this season. Hayes AP Photo/Ed Reinke|
"Coming off a 10-win season, I'd have taken anybody,'' Harrick said, referring to his 10-20 debut season in 1999-2000. "I'd have taken the Sisters of the Poor star player coming off that season.''
Both brothers are expected to be in the lineup tonight as No. 16 Georgia visits South Carolina. Georgia (16-4 overall, 5-2 in the SEC) will be trying to bounce back from an 86-84 loss at Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Harrick's message to his players was the Bulldogs did not lose at Vanderbilt because Chris Daniels' last-second 3-pointer bounced around before falling of f the rim. Harrick said Georgia did not deserve to win.
"(Vanderbilt) out-hustled and out-played us,'' Harrick said. "They deserved to win.''
As a result, Harrick turned up the intensity in practice this week. South Carolina (12-7 overall, 2-4 SEC) will be playing to turn around what thus far has been a disappointing conference schedule in its first season with Odom.
This will be Georgia's last visit to Frank McGuire Arena. South Carolina is building a new facility to open next season, and Georgia likely will applaud the move. The Bulldogs have not won at McGuire Arena since 1994.
This season, however, South Carolina has not enjoyed a home advantage in league games. The Gamecocks have not won in two home conference games, falling to Kentucky and Vanderbilt.
"This is a very important game for us,'' Odom said. "We're playing at home and have not won at home in the conference. "When you go on the road and see the difference playing on the road, it makes it all the more important.''
Georgia is not expected to make any lineup changes in Steve Thomas' second game back from his suspension. In 25 minutes at Vanderbilt, Thomas grabbed only one rebound.
"Off his performance the other day, he's not ready,'' Harrick said. "He doesn't deserve to start.''
As a starter, Thomas was averaging 6.5 rebounds per game, second on the team. Jonas Hayes is averaging more than 10 points in four games as Thomas' replacement.