Hot at the right time

ATHENS - From Nov. 2 to March 8, a span that included 29 basketball games, Terrance Woodbury led Georgia in scoring four times.

In the last five games, Woodbury has led the Bulldogs in scoring the same number of times, and that's as big a reason as any Georgia finds itself preparing for the NCAA Tournament this week. The Bulldogs (17-16) will play Atlantic 10 champion Xavier (27-6) at 12:20 p.m. Thursday at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.

"We definitely couldn't have done it without him playing like that," senior center Dave Bliss said.

Playing like that is what head coach Dennis Felton has been predicting for Woodbury for some time. The 6-foot-7, 220-pound junior from Virginia Beach, Va., looks like Georgia's most dangerous perimeter weapon when he steps on the floor, and he's had his moments.

Woodbury scored 16 points in Georgia's first meeting with Kentucky last year but followed that up with six straight games in which he totaled 25. When the Bulldogs traveled to Rupp Arena last season, he had a season-high 18. The next game? Three.

It took until the final half of this year's SEC schedule before Woodbury was able to string together four straight games with 10 or more points, quite a statement considering how few options Georgia has had on the offensive end.

That lack of consistency was the trademark of Woodbury's career, and then came the SEC Tournament. Woodbury got the Bulldogs' miracle run started with a career-best 25 points in a 97-95 overtime win over Ole Miss in the first round.

"He really started to play with a good degree of confidence offensively, and he hit some timely shots starting with the Mississippi game," Felton said. "That probably did a lot for Wood with his own confidence."

This time Woodbury didn't let the momentum die. He led Georgia in scoring in three of their four SEC Tournament games and joined point guard Sundiata Gaines on the All-Tournament team.

"My coaches have just been telling me to be more aggressive," Woodbury said. "I wasn't playing with the aggressiveness that I used to be playing with. I just wanted to come out here and play as hard as I could. Thank God it worked out the way it did. I was really aggressive, and I made big shots and I made big plays."

The turnaround started in the final game of the regular season when Woodbury had 18 points, but it went unnoticed as the Bulldogs lost for the 11th time in 13 games.

Counting that game, Woodbury has averaged 16.2 points in the last five games, and he shot 58 percent from behind the 3-point line (11-of-19) during the SEC Tournament.

Woodbury's emergence has given Georgia more than one player who is a threat from behind the 3-point line and driving to the basket, which opens up offensive opportunities for everyone, Bliss said.

"It adds a lot because guys want to key on Yata or key on Billy (Humphrey) and do their best to take Dave out of his game so we need to have another presence on the court where they can't shut down one or two people, they have to shut down a whole squad," Woodbury said. "I have to play with the energy level that I've been playing with the last few days."

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