Thomas misses practice with fever

"I'll be all right,'' Thomas said after the practice.

CHICAGO — Starting forward Steve Thomas was held out of Thursday night's practice after developing flu-like symptoms, including a high fever.

Georgia trainer Mike Clanton said Thomas had a temperature of 103 degrees earlier Thursday. Team physician Dr. Ron Elliott, traveling with the team, attended to Thomas during the day, and Thomas felt well enough to accompany the team to its workout at the United Center and watch the practice.

"We hope he's well by (today),'' said Coach Jim Harrick.

Clanton said players were given flu shots in November, so the hope is Thomas doesn't actually have the flu.

If Thomas can't start, Jonas Hayes would move up from his role as the team's top substitute. Thomas is valuable because at 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds, he is the team's biggest player and second-leading rebounder.

"I'll be all right,'' Thomas said after the practice.

 Texas Tech may come to Georgia: Coach Bob Knight's Texas Tech team looms as a possible second-round opponent for Georgia. The teams may also play in the 2002-03 regular season.

Harrick and Knight talked Thursday about a home-and-home exchange of games, with Texas Tech possibly coming to Atlanta next season to play Georgia in the Delta Classic.

 First-day workout: Georgia arrived Wednesday in time to practice Wednesday night at Loyola University in Chicago. Georgia assistant coach Jim Harrick Jr. was an assistant coach at Loyola from 1999-2001.Georgia then took its turn on Thursday's practice day at the United Center, drawing a late 7 p.m. ET starting time for the workout because it plays in tonight's late game.

 Land Between the Lakes: Where is Murray State? Murray, Ky., which has a population of 18,000, is located in Western Kentucky about 20 miles from Kentucky Lake and Tennessee Valley Authority's Land Between the Lakes.

Rand McNally voted Murray as the number one place to retire in 1988.Murray State's enrollment is 9,600. Perhaps its most famous basketball alumnus is Popeye Jones, who in 1990 scored 37 points as No. 16 seed Murray State took No. 1 seed Michigan State to overtime before falling 75-71. Now with the Washington Wizards, Jones is in his ninth NBA season.

 Wooden Classic Bound: Georgia will play California in the John R. Wooden Classic in Anaheim, Calif., as part of its 2002-03 pre-Southeastern

Conference schedule. Southern Cal will play Missouri in the second Wooden Classic game. All four teams in the event are playing in the NCAA tournament.

 Big numbers at Stegeman: Thanks to its average of 10,336 fans for eight Southeastern Conference home games, Georgia set a school record with its overall average of 9,064 and its total attendance of 117,834.

Georgia's previous best average home attendance was 8,822 in the 1990-91 season, the year after the Bulldogs won the SEC regular-season championship.

 It's a sellout: With local favorites Illinois and Southern Illinois in the field and Texas Tech coach Bobby Knight an additional draw, the United Center already is a sellout for the first- and second-round games. Georgia coach Jim Harrick says he does not agree with such teams as Illinois and Southern Illinois being given the advantages of home fans, even if the games are not being played on their actual home courts. But the NCAA's
selection committee has tried to provide more regional draws in this year's bracket.

 Gators say they're still close: Florida, the No. 5 seed in the East, will play No. 12 seed Creighton today at 12:30 a.m. at the United Center, and there was much interest in the Gators' practice Thursday. On Wednesday, Coach Billy Donovan revealed that starting guard Brett Nelson had his cheekbone broken in an altercation with teammate LaDarius Halton on Tuesday.

Nelson was able to practice Thursday, wearing a band-aid to cover the incision where the cheekbone was surgically repaired Tuesday night.

"I'm not saying that I'm happy with what happened, but you see in basketball games guys lose their composure sometimes,'' Donovan said Thursday. "It was two kids playing hard and their emotions go the best of them.''

Added Nelson: "Practice got very physical, and everything is done with. We have discussed this as a team and will put it behind us. We will come together as a team and focus on playing. I feel this will make us close as a team. ... Nothing bad will come of this.''

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