Williams: "Leaning toward the NBA"

ATHENS – High school phenom Louis Williams said Wednesday he probably won't be playing basketball at Georgia, and that's too bad for the Bulldogs.

They proved Wednesday night that they can use anybody who can score as they managed just four points in the final 13:48 of a 50-38 loss to Florida. Williams was among a crowd of 6,701 that watched the game in Stegeman Coliseum.

At halftime, he indicated he's more likely to enter the NBA Draft this year than honor a letter of intent he has signed with the Bulldogs.

"I would say I'm leaning toward the NBA, but I'm not counting out UGA," said Williams, who is considered the best prep player in the country by many analysts and could be a first round pick if he goes straight to the pros.

"At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to play in the NBA," said Louis Williams, who watched the game alongside South Gwinnett teammate Mike Mercer, another player who has signed with Georgia. "UGA is a step on the way to that goal. If you can skip that step…"

Williams has until the middle of May to declare his eligibility for the draft, but he won't need that much time to make a final decision, he said.

"I'm absolutely sure a decision will be made long before May," he said.

Georgia (8-18, 2-13 SEC) had more immediate concerns Wednesday night, though, namely its inability to score. Florida's Anthony Roberson (22 points) and David Lee (17) combined to outscore the Bulldogs, who led by as many as nine points in the second half. Georgia scored just 13 points in the second half and shot 24.5 percent for the game.

Impatience and fatigue led to the Bulldogs' long drought to end the game, Coach Dennis Felton said.

"Our players not only have to play so many minutes, but they have to play so hard," Felton said. "Most of the time, they are guarding somebody more athletic than they are so they have to play doubly hard just to keep up. Down the stretch, I certainly saw some dead-legged players."

The Bulldogs expended most of their energy on the defensive end, where they held Florida (19-7, 11-4) almost 30 points below its season scoring average (79.4 ppg). It was the fewest points the Gators have scored in a win since the 1991-92 season.

"I actually feel pretty good about the game from the standpoint of how hard we competed," Felton said. "I was really happy with the effort."

So were the players.

"I'm proud of my team," said guard Levi Stukes, who scored more than half his team's points (20). "We showed that we are going to guard you. We're going to make you play our style of basketball. If we do what we did tonight, that's just as good as a win, but a win-win is what we'd really like."

Stukes pointed out that the Bulldogs would have held Florida to fewer than 50 points if not for a technical called on Felton in the final two minutes of the game. Felton conceded that point.

"We held them to 48 points," he said. "I'm really proud of that."

Georgia led 25-21 at halftime and didn't surrender the lead for good until less than 11 minutes remained in the game.

FOOTBALL SUSPENSIONS: Football coach Mark Richt announced on Wednesday that reserve offensive linemen Zeb McKinzey and Michael Turner have been suspended for the first game of the 2005 season. McKinzey and Turner each were arrested for separate substance offenseses since the end of the 2004 season. Both players also will be punished with extra running and community service, Richt said. "Hopefully, that's a strong message," he said "If the behavior continues, you take away a lot more playing time. If it still keeps up, you just don't get to be at Georgia anymore." McKinzey, who was charged with underage possession of alcohol this week after registering a blood alcohol level of .224, also will receive counseling, Richt said. Reserve defensive lineman Darrius Swain who was arrested on charges of driving with a suspended license, won't miss any game time, Richt said. Richt said he doesn't punish traffic offenses as severely as most other legal transgressions. … Richt also addressed a uniform change that Bulldogs are planning. There won't be any drastic makeovers, he promised. "It's going to be silver britches and red or white jerseys," he said. The trim and placement of a small ‘G' logo on the front of the jerseys is expected to change slightly.

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