Not "Georgia" Dome in basketball

ATLANTA – Southeastern Conference football coaches worry that Georgia has an advantage when it plays football games in the Georgia Dome.

Basketball teams in the conference do not. The Bulldogs played Thursday night's late game in the first round of the SEC Tournament, and only a handful of their fans bothered to attend.

"This is about what I expected," said Jesse Kenney, a 57-year-old Georgia fan from Bogart who attended the game.

The game time didn't do anything for ticket sales. It was scheduled to tip off at 9:45 p.m. but as usual got going a little late. It was past 10 p.m. when Georgia, the sixth seed in the Eastern Division and Ole Miss, the third seed in the Western Division, got started.

"This is what you get when you finish last in the East," said Kenney.

He should know. Kenney, who is well known in Stegeman Coliseum for his habit of jumping and waving his arms to exhort the home team, attends almost every Georgia home game and has seen the Bulldogs play in this time slot too often.

The time slot didn't keep Ole Miss fans from outnumbering Georgia fans by a wide margin. It was more the Bulldogs' record that kept their fans away.

Georgia entered the game 13-16 overall and 4-12 in the conference and needing to win this tournament to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

Kenney didn't want to discuss the night's obvious question: Will Georgia head coach Dennis Felton have the same job next year?

Anthony Evans, who knows something about rebuilding efforts, thinks the Bulldogs have persevered well through a tough season. Evans was a member of Jim Harrick's first two teams in Athens, when Georgia lost more games than it won. Being in the Georgia Dome for the late game felt familiar to Evans, he said Thursday.

"When I was playing it was about the same," said Evans, who now works in real estate in Athens.

Evans talked to several of the current players before Thursday's game, and they seemed enthused about the possibility of extending their season, he said. Evans also pointed out that Felton lost his two leading scorers prior to the season due to discipline issues.

"Whenever you lose players it hurts the season," Evans said. "It's got to be a disappointing season, but the players keep having their head up and playing. I think this game right here and how they play tonight can really determine how the season goes."

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