News and notes; Georgia and the SEC tourney

"We've had three really unbelievable games coming down the stretch run." - Georgia Head Coach Jim Harrick

Georgia basketball: SEC news and notes

GEORGIA 
For Georgia, the 2002 East co-crown is the program's first since the SEC expanded and was pared into East and West divisions. It's also the first time Georgia has enjoyed the status of #1 seed since 1990, when it won the school's only regular-season championship. It¹s Georgia's first bye through the first round since 1996. Georgia has a 31-41 overall record (.431) in Tournament games. That's the seventh-best among the 16 teams that have participated in the Tournament's history (includes ex-members Ga. Tech, Tulane and Sewanee). Georgia has reached the finals five times: 1940, 1981, 1983, 1988 and 1997. It's reached the semis 13 times, fifth-best among all SEC teams. Georgia's only championship came in 1983, and it served as a springboard for the Dogs' march to the NCAA Final Four. For 19 straight years, from 1980-98, Georgia played at least into the tournament second round. Its 1st-round exit in 1999 ended that string, and the Bulldogs have met a similar fate in each of the past two years. 

LSU 
The Tigers finish the regular season by winning four of the last six games. LSU's win versus Auburn assures LSU a winning overall record for only the second time in the last nine seasons. LSU will be the West fourth seed in the tournament. This is the first time LSU is a fourth seed from the West since divisional play was set up. LSU scored 59 points in both wins this week over Ole Miss and Auburn. Two of their four wins come on the road at Arkansas and Auburn. Collis Temple III undergoes surgery March 1 to correct reoccurring right ankle and foot problems. Ruptured right tendon and right ankle are both reconstructed. Expected recovery time 3 to 4 months. LSU is 35-41 overall in the SEC Tournament, 14-22 since the renewal. LSU has gone 2-2 over the last two years, winning the first game and losing the second. LSU plays on the first day for the eighth time in nine years.

VANDERBILT 
Sam Howard scored 20 points at Arkansas to become the 34th member of Vanderbilt's 1,000-point club. He made 6-of-7 three pointers and added a two pointer with just over a minute left in the game to hit 1,000 points exactly. For the second straight game, Vanderbilt's leading scorer came off the bench as Sam Howard finished with a game-high 20 points at Arkansas. Brendan Plavich scored a team-high 20 points off the bench against No. 11 Kentucky. Vanderbilt, which plays LSU in the first round of the SEC Tournament, holds a 52-42 advantage in the all-time series with the Tigers, while the series is tied 3-3 in SEC Tournament games. The Commodores' last SEC Tournament match up with LSU came in the second round in 2000 when Vanderbilt suffered a 71-60 loss. Vanderbilt's all-time record in the SEC Tournament is 24-39 (.381), which ranks the Commodores ninth in winning percentage among the current members of the SEC.

GEORGIA COACH JIM HARRICK:
"We've had three really unbelievable games coming down the stretch run. We haven't played as loose and confident the last few games as we did earlier in the year, and that really bothers me. Hopefully, we can change that in the SEC Tournament. But it's good to get the No. 1 seed in the East. We've come a long way. But we didn't back into anything. Kentucky and Florida might be ranked ahead of us, but my team knows what they have done to earn this No. 1 seed in Atlanta."

LSU COACH JOHN BRADY:
"Our team is playing very well right now, especially the last six games or so. We are not scoring a lot of baskets, but we are playing very good defense. We've held many of our opponents to less than 60 points. Vanderbilt is playing very well right now as well, so it should be a great opening round match up. Hopefully we can continue in Atlanta what we've been doing the last few weeks. I really like Mississippi State's chances in the tournament. They have been overlooked, and they sort of keep feeding off that. Somebody is going to have to play awfully well to knock them off. Ole Miss as well.
Both Mississippi teams really. After watching what Ole Miss did to Alabama yesterday, I'm just glad we didn't get shut out in Oxford. But I would say Mississippi State is the darkhorse team to win the SEC Tournament."

VANDERBILT COACH KEVIN STALLINGS:
"We were disappointed with the way we played at Arkansas. I just think we ran into a difficult situation with awkward circumstances that caused Arkansas to play really well. We've just got to get ourselves together and try to play well against LSU. I felt very good about our ball club going into last Saturday. I don't think everybody has a chance to win the SEC Tournament, but eight or nine teams have a real good shot."

Georgia has appeared in more SEC basketball tournaments then any other school besides Alabama. 

Georgia is a combined 4-8 against LSU and Vanderbilt. One of those two teams will face Georgia in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament. 

Georgia has not won an SEC tournament game since their first round game in 1998 against Mississippi State. Georgia lost in the next round Ole Miss. 

Georgia is 8-10 since the divisional format was used in the SEC tournament. 

Following are some facts about Georgia's past performances at the SEC Tournament: 

Georgia has a 31-41 overall record (.431) in Tournament games. That's the seventh-best among the 16 teams that have participated in the Tournament's history (includes ex-members Ga. Tech, Tulane and Sewanee).

Georgia has reached the finals five times: 1940, 1981, 1983, 1988 and 1997. It's reached the semis 13 times, fifth-best among all SEC teams.

Georgia's only championship came in 1983, and it served as a springboard for the Dogs' march to the NCAA Final Four.

For 19 straight years, from 1980-98, Georgia played at least into the tournament second round. Its 1st-round exit in '99 ended that string, and the Bulldogs have met a similar fate in each of the past two years. 

Georgia at the Georgia Dome 

Friday's game is Georgia's 14th all-time game at the Georgia Dome. The 1992-93 Bulldog squad and then-UCLA head coach Jim Harrick participated in the first-ever college basketball game here as part of the Kuppenheimer Classic invitational event. 

Georgia teams haven't encountered much success at the Dome. They've totaled a 4-9 record here and are currently riding a 5-game losing streak. The 2002 team has already played one game at the Dome, an 83-78 loss to Georgia State on Dec. 4. 

Odds & Ends This Season 

Winning is certainly the best medicine in basketball. Because of that, Georgia has enjoyed a banner year at the Stegeman Coliseum box office. In the 8 SEC home games, the Bulldogs had 82,684 fans pass through the turnstiles for an average of 10,336. That factors out to 98 percent of Stegeman's capacity for those eight conference home games. Include the five pre-SEC games in the total, and Georgia1s home attendance has been 85 percent of capacity. 

With six sellouts during the SEC season, the overall average home attendance for 2001-02 was 9,064, a school record. The total attendance was 117,834, which factors to be 86 percent of Stegeman1s capacity. 

Here are the top five-ranking attendance years in Stegeman Coliseum's history: 

2001-02 9,064 
1990-91 8,822
1981-82 8,670
1995-96 8,287
2000-01 8,026


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