Felton fired up

ATHENS – Georgia coach Dennis Felton regrets singling out South Carolina's Carlos Powell in remarks earlier this week, but he stands by his fiery defense of his team, he said.

"The only thing I regret about anything I said was the fact I singled out an individual player, but it was in response to charges that player made about our players," he said. "Still, I wish I wouldn't have ever singled out a particular player."

Felton referred to Carlos Powell as "the biggest faker and flopper" in his Sunday night call-in show and again made reference to him during Monday's SEC coaches teleconference. He also singled out Alabama coach Mark Gottfried while dismissing what he sees as a growing notion that his team plays outside the rules, but he made no apologies for mentioning Gottfried.

"All the plays (Powell) went down holding his head as if he got shot… first of all, he does that all the time, but he did it to an extreme level (Saturday)," Felton said Sunday night on his weekly radio show. "To be able to watch film and look at it after the game, nothing happened to him. He basically made it all up. He might have gotten grazed or poked in the eye on one of the occasions, and I say might have, but other than that nothing happened."

Georgia athletic director Damon Evans has had a discussion with Felton about his comments, Evans said.

"Dennis understands how I feel about the comments that have been made," Evans said.

Southeastern Conference associate commissioner Charles Bloom contacted Georgia sports information director Claude Felton on Tuesday "expressing some concerns about the comments that have been made," Evans said.

"I don't know what to expect at this time," Evans said. "We'll see what the conference office does and deal with things in an appropriate manner."

Powell indicated Saturday that he thought the Bulldogs played dirty during a 60-53 loss to the Gamecocks. He was not the first person to float that idea. After Alabama beat the Bulldogs 75-47 on Jan. 30, Gottfried said, "Everybody can choose to play a certain style. To me, that's not basketball. Obviously, (Georgia's style of play) was physical, to say the least."

The two comments clearly incensed Felton, whose Bulldogs (7-12, 1-8 SEC) take on Arkansas (15-7, 3-6) tonight in Fayetteville, Ark.

"This whole notion of (Georgia center Dave Bliss) or any of our players being dirty or overly physical is garbage," he said Sunday night. "Mark Gottfried had no reason to make any of the comments he did after the Alabama game, and as far as Carlos Powell is concerned, he is the biggest faker and flopper. He's fraudulent."

He added "that kind of effort to manipulate the way people think and see things is almost basically (a form) of cheating."

Felton took up the subject again Monday, making an unsolicited statement on the league coaches' twice-weekly teleconference.

"We have as classy a group of guys in our program as there is in the country," he said. "It is absolutely inaccurate to define or players as physical and most certainly as dirty. I know there are plenty of folks around here that would like little pitiful old Georgia to lie down and quit and not compete and just do what we're supposed to do and that's get beat, but that's not going to happen.

"To have these unchecked remarks made by opposing coaches and players is very disappointing, and it's harmful to our ability to compete on an even playing field."

Again, he made a point to mention Powell, who at least twice Saturday fell to the Stegeman Coliseum floor and one time banged his fist on the court while screaming after contact. After the game, Powell had a slightly swollen eye and, when asked if the Bulldogs played dirty, said, "Yeah."

"That game was not physical at all," Felton said. "It was a very lightly played game and all of sudden it is considered physical because one of their players went through all kinds of theatrics on the court and after the game made disparaging remarks about our players. You can watch it yourself and you'll see that player throwing himself around the court and being very dramatic and theatrical about plays that flat out didn't occur. I would invite any of you, we would make a DVD or a video tape, whichever is your preference, I would invite you to watch and scrutinize our last game against South Carolina."

Powell "got very, very emotional in a way that I can't explain," Felton said. "Watch the tape the times that their players went flailing and falling onto the court and acting like we had shot them or whatever, watch the tape and you'll see that it's a lot of acting a lot of drama."

South Carolina coach Dave Odom had very little public response Tuesday to Felton's harsh words about his player.

"There has been enough conversation about the Georgia game, and the way it was played," he said in a statement released by the school. "We are moving forward. We have other challenges ahead. Our immediate needs are to improve our team as we get ready to play Auburn on Saturday."

Gottfried stood by his remarks this week, but LSU coach John Brady, whose team beat Georgia 95-79 on Wednesday, came to the Bulldogs' defense.

"If I'm Dennis Felton, I'd get upset too because then you're attacking what kind of person he is," Brady said. "There is no way that I would believe that DF wants his players to play dirty or encourages that. If any coach thinks that, they're in Pluto. Dennis Felton is not that type of coach. He wouldn't tolerate that. Is he trying to get his team to play physical and hard? Absolutely."

All the fuss has caught Georgia's players off guard.

"I don't see what the other teams say," Bliss said. "(Felton) just made us aware of that yesterday of that he felt it was inappropriate that other teams were commenting on that."

The Bulldogs certainly don't view themselves as dirty, he said.

"We try to be a tough team, but, by no means, are we trying to injure anybody or be cheap or anything like that," he said. "There's nothing wrong with the way we play. We just play basketball the way we know how."

Felton said he was concerned that the "trend" of disparaging remarks toward his team was going to cause bias among officiating crews. Georgia was called for 34 fouls in its game against Alabama, the most in an SEC game all season. The Bulldogs have been called for almost 21 fouls a game this year, but "that doesn't always mean you're a dirty team," Bliss said.

"Some of that is because we're struggling defensively," he said. "If there are breakdowns on defense, you're going to foul more."

Georgia's opponents have shot 431 free throws to the Bulldogs' 373 this year. Asked if that disparity could be attributed to an unfair perception, Felton said, "I don't know if I'm allowed to answer that question."


Time/place: Today, 8 p.m., Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, Ark.

Broadcast: Jefferson-Pilot Television/106.1-FM

Record/rankings: Georgia 7-12 (1-8 SEC), Arkansas 15-7 (3-6)

About Georgia: Leading scorer Levi Stukes is again on the injured list. Stukes didn't practice Tuesday evening and is questionable due to a right ankle sprain. Stukes had an MRI on his ankle Tuesday, but Coach Dennis Felton said it was mainly precautionary. Stukes said he won't know if he'll be able to play until this morning's shoot around. … If the Bulldogs lose tonight, they will drop six games below .500 for the first since 2000 and just the second time since 1977. … Georgia has won the last three games in this series, but Arkansas still leads the series 11-7 all-time. … Reserve center Joey Waldrop is on scholarship this season, he said Tuesday. Waldrop plays little but needed the financial assistance to stay in school this year, he said. He doesn't plan on keeping the scholarship next season, he said.

About Arkansas: Sophomore guard Ronnie Brewer is the Razorbacks' best player. He leads the team with 16.4 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game. … Arkansas has lost six of its last eight. Its two wins in that span came against Auburn at home and against Ole Miss on the road. The Razorbacks beat the Rebels 66-65 on Wednesday.

Scouting Report: Georgia's main problem tonight will be the same problem it has most every night in the SEC. "They're very long, tall and athletic," Felton said of the Razorbacks. That's all the things that the Bulldogs are not. Freshman Sundiata Gaines probably will take the responsibility for guarding Ronnie Brewer and probably will handle that OK, but the rest of the team will be at a huge defensive disadvantage. The Bulldogs also will have to face the most hostile crowd they've seen since getting blown out at Florida.

Next: Georgia at Kentucky, Saturday, 3 p.m. (Jefferson-Pilot); Arkansas vs. LSU, Saturday, 2 p.m.

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