Thomas' season of peaks and valleys

Georgia's Steve Thomas has been the focus of intense scrutiny mainly due to an alleged incident that occurred at McWhorter Hall dormitory in January. The sophomore forward has had an up and down season and Georgia hopes that the final few games of the 2001-2002 season are peaks, not valleys.

Off the court problems have interfered with Steve Thomas' season twice this year. On January 16th, 2002 Thomas and teammate Tony Cole were suspended for an alleged incident that occurred in Georgia's athletic dormitories. Nearly a month later Thomas was suspended for a fight that occurred in a loss at Auburn on February 9th, 2002.

Thomas' play picked up after the incident at Auburn. After he sat out of the Florida game due to the fighting suspension he returned with a monstrous game to return Georgia to the SEC East race. In the Kentucky game, Thomas scored 16 points on 6 of 9 shooting from the field. He gathered 12 rebounds on top of his second highest scoring performance of the season to lead the Dawgs to only their 3rd season sweep of Kentucky in school history.

That would have to be considered one of the peaks of Thomas' season. Other peaks and valleys in Thomas' season follow:

Valley:
December 7th, 2001
Minnesota

Thomas manages only three shots from the floor and scores only 6 points in Georgia's 77-55 win over the Golden Gophers.

Peaks:
December 9th, 2001
Georgia Tech

In the next game, Thomas has his best game of the season. Thomas' career high 24 points combined with his nine rebounds in 36 minutes of play helps Georgia crush Georgia Tech 95-82. The win was Georgia's third straight over their in-state archrival.

Valley:
December 17th, 2001
Pepperdine

Two games after Georgia's win over Tech Thomas is almost a non-factor. He plays only 19 minuets, grabs one rebound, and scores no points. Georgia rolls over Pepperdine, but it is now evident that Thomas is an up and down player.

Valley:
December 22nd, 2001
Hawaii

Georgia loses it second game of the year in the championship game of the Rainbow Classic against the home standing Hawaii Rainbows 54-44. Thomas' four rebounds and one point don't help Georgia avoid its worst offensive production of the season. Thomas was 0-7 from the field. This was probably as low as it got on the court for Thomas.

Peak:
January 5th, 2002
Vanderbilt

With Jarvis Hayes having a rare off night, Thomas steps up and leads Georgia to its first win of the SEC season. The 82-69 win saw Thomas contribute 16 points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes of play.

Valley:
January 16th, 2002
Alabama

Thomas is suspended from the team for the alleged incident at McWhorter Hall. Georgia loses to Alabama 77-72.

Valley:
January 30th, 2002
South Carolina

In his first game back from suspension, Thomas has a rough time. He plays only 16 minutes and can manage only 2 points. Carolina beats Georgia soundly 80-67.

Peak:
February 2, 2002
Ole Miss

Thomas drops 16 on the Rebels and cleans the glass seven times. The win snaps a season high two-game losing streak that Georgia was on. The Ole Miss game was also the first game that Thomas started since being suspended before the Alabama game.

Peak:
February 6th, 2002
Mississippi State

Thomas continues to destroy the Magnolia State's top two teams. This time Thomas explodes for 21 points against the eventual SEC tournament champions. Georgia rolls at State 86-68.

Valley:
February 9th, 2002
Auburn

The game that got away from the Georgia program, or better know as Georgia's 75-72 loss to Auburn. Thomas gets thrown out of the game and is subsequently suspended by SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer for fighting with an Auburn player. Jim Harrick is called for a technical foul near the end of the game and Auburn defends it home court against a top SEC school for the second time in less than a month. Thomas manages no points and three rebounds against the Tigers.

Peak:
February 16th, 2002
Kentucky

After serving a one-game suspension for the fight at Auburn, Thomas returns to the team, which is in a must win situation. Thomas dumps in 16 points and secures 12 rebounds to help Georgia beat #10 Kentucky 78-69. The win keeps Georgia's SEC East hopes alive.

Peak:
February27th, 2002
South Carolina

Georgia and Thomas get revenge on the Cocks. Thomas punishes the Cocks with 10 rebounds and 16 points in 34 minutes of play. Thomas goes 6-8 from the charity stripe and 5-8 from the field. Georgia's improbable 82-75 overtime win ensures the Dawgs of at least a bye in the first round of the SEC Tournament.

Valley:
March 8th, 2002
SEC Tournament
LSU

Thomas finishes the game with as many points as fouls, four. However, Thomas does grab 9 rebounds in 34 minutes of play. LSU upsets Georgia for the second season in a row, this time 78-76. Georgia's disappointing first round loss means that Georgia enters the NCAA Tournament with no post-season (non-NIT) victories in the last four years.

Dean Legge can be reached here: dean@dawgpost.com


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