Dawgs try to snap five-game losing streak

ATHENS – There are times when Zac Swansey can't help but think about the future.

"We've got a good group of (freshmen), and we've got good freshmen coming next year, and I think we're using these games as learning experiences," said Swansey, Georgia's freshman guard.

The present isn't fun to ponder for the Bulldogs. They begin the second half of the SEC schedule today with a 7:30 p.m. game against South Carolina (11-11, 3-5 SEC) and are trying to snap a five-game losing streak. Making that task more difficult is how much Georgia (11-10, 2-6) is relying on its freshmen.

Thanks to two preseason dismissals and the three-game suspension that second-leading scorer Billy Humphrey currently is serving, the Bulldogs are relying heavily, maybe too heavily, on their newcomers.

"We got a whole lot younger in a hurry, and that has made this year difficult for us so I'm disappointed with where we're at right now," head coach Dennis Felton said.

Georgia's four healthy freshmen (forward Jeremy Jacob hasn't played since December due to a broken foot) are averaging 52.7 minutes, 13.9 points and 10 rebounds per game in SEC action. That scoring total is 22 percent of the Bulldogs' team total in conference games.

Georgia's veterans are trying to remain positive about the team's youth while at the same time having to deal with the frustrations caused by it, senior point guard Sundiata Gaines said.

"The best you can do is keep them motivated and keep them confident and let them know that you are by their side," Gaines said. "Once a freshman gets down, we really won't have a chance because they contribute a big part to our team."

The three players Georgia has signed to come in next year are considered some the finest recruits of the Felton era, led by Wesleyan High School power forward Trey Thompkins, who is averaging more than 30 points per game and is rated the seventh-best power forward in the nation by Scout.com.

The potential for the future does nothing to help Georgia now as Felton's job status is becoming a topic of conversation in his fifth year.

"The progress if you look at the first few years, the progress that we tried to make with the restrictions that were on the program was appropriate and good," assistant coach Pete Herrmann said. "We wen t from 15 wins to 19 wins (last year), and I think the progress was coming along fine. Obviously, we've hit a bump in the road here, and we have to get back on the winning ways. I don't think you are that concerned with anything right now except beating South Carolina and having your team continue to improve."

In the meantime, Georgia's freshmen will keep grinding, Swansey said.

"We've got three more years to come back here and play," Swansey said. "We're trying to win, but at the same time we're learning to play the game and overcome adversity."

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