Jackson getting rolling for Felton's Dawgs

ATHENS – When Georgia's basketball players walk off the team bus, sophomore Albert Jackson is the most intimidating person in red and black.

That perception lasts right up to the moment when Jackson, a brawny 6-foot-10, 250-pound center, catches the ball in the post. That's when Jackson's brain takes over and all his ability becomes a hostage to one thought – "What now?"

For almost two seasons, Georgia head coach Dennis Felton, weary of seeing his most athletic post player visibly uncomfortable every time he gets the ball, has tried to impress upon Jackson the benefit of action over thought.

The lesson finally is beginning to take hold. Jackson made the first start of his career Saturday against Florida and scored a career-high 12 points. That came on the heels of a nine-point effort against Vanderbilt.

He scored eight points in the first half against the Gators, mostly by catching an outlet pass and looking immediately to score.

"I can see the difference it makes just going and shooting," Jackson said. "Like Coach (Felton) told me, just being athletic and as big as I am, my goal should be to score and don't worry about everybody else, just worry about my shot. When I catch the ball, if I don't go immediately to shoot, I'm going to pass it back out instead of starting to think about it and think about what I'm going to do. That just creates problems and turnovers."

Jackson's teammates have been waiting for him to figure that out.

"We were trying to get him to just go, stop hesitating," junior Terrence Woodbury said. Against Florida "he showed that when he just goes, he can get things done."

Jackson can sense Georgia fans have been frustrated by his slow progress, he said.

"I feel like this is the turning point that the fans have been looking for, that aggressiveness, that wanting to dominate on offense and not just defense," he said. "I've still got a lot of work to do, but I think I'm starting to get that edge."

As frustrating as Jackson's halting progress has been for fans, it's been twice as bad for him and his teammates, who have seen a decisive Jackson on the practice floor most of the season.

"Finally, it's starting to show a little bit more in the game," Jackson said.

Jackson's 21 points in the last two games, on 9-of-14 shooting, matches his total from the previous 15 games combined.

"I'm very, very hopeful that he can build on that aggression and keep playing that way from this point forward," Felton said.

Jackson missed the final six games of last season due to a shoulder injury and the first six of this season due to suspension.

"In a way, I feel like it's my freshman year because I go through some of the same things the freshmen do," he said. "I feel like I'm on the right track, but I feel like I can do more."

Felton did not start Jackson in an attempt to boost his confidence, but it had that effect, Jackson said.

"It's a big boost because you feel like coach has got a lot of confidence in you and they believe in what you can do," Jackson said. "I just felt like I wanted to go out there and prove to myself and everybody who was watching and to my coaches that I could get the job done."


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