Dawgs Set to Tip off with Illinois

ATHENS – Dennis Felton isn't interested in moral victories, but with a young team and an arduous schedule ahead, it's not hard to find a rather bright silver lining in Georgia's 67-63 loss at Western Kentucky on Tuesday.

It was the first true road test for the Bulldogs and it came against a team that made it to the Sweet 16 a year ago and beat the No. 3 team in the country a week ago. A win would have been nice,

Felton said, but experience is a close second.

"That was the first game we played this year that was on someone else's home court with an electrifying atmosphere, with the place packed with a lot of noise and a team that was really being fueled by that passion from the fans," said Felton, who coached at Western Kentucky prior to taking over at Georgia. "I was pleased that we responded with a decent level of poise and competitiveness."

Georgia actually led at the half against the Hilltoppers behind a 16-point first half by senior Terrence Woodbury and 6-of-10 shooting from 3 as a team.

That all changed in the second half, however, as Woodbury went cold (he was 1-of-7 shooting in the half) and the Bulldogs couldn't hit a 3 until Dustin Ware drained a long jumper to pull Georgia to within three with just three seconds remaining in the game.

Georgia was just 1-of-9 behind the arc in the second half, including a series of quick shots by the Bulldogs' guards in the waning minutes of the game.

The bad shot selection, however, wasn't Felton's primary concern.

"Some of the shots that might have been quick and might have wanted to take back weren't as bad as some of the other kinds of breakdowns," Felton said. "We gave up some second shots down the stretch that were costly, and we certainly had some very, very poor fouls."

Georgia had 21 personal fouls in the game to just 11 by Western Kentucky, and the Hilltoppers hit 13-of-19 free throws in the second half to pull ahead.

The low-percentage shots and ill-timed fouls are simply a product of a young team, Felton said, and the experience of playing a tight game on the road was one that could have a big impact on his team moving forward, starting with today's game in Chicago against Illinois.

Felton and Illini head coach Bruce Weber have a long relationship, which played into scheduling the game.

"There's certain coaches that you have a greater degree of familiarity with and respect for than others," Felton said, "and Bruce is definitely one of those. I think the world of him as a coach and a person."

More than a chance to catch up with an old friend, however, Felton hopes today's game will be another chance for his team to take a step forward prior to beginning SEC play next month.

"We're very aggressive and ambitious with our scheduling," Felton said. "We're always trying to schedule top teams from different parts of the country, and this is one of those games, and I think it's a tremendous opportunity for our team and our program."

The loss to Western Kentucky was Georgia's first since dropping a game to Loyola of Chicago during the Preseason NIT tournament, snapping a five-game winning streak.

The strong play has been sparked by the addition of freshman Trey Thompkins to the lineup. Thompkins earned SEC freshman of the week honors last week after making his season debut following a rash of preseason injuries.

Against Western Kentucky, Thompkins played just 15 minutes, however, finishing with 10 points and four rebounds.

"He's taking time to do everything, to make the transition to college basketball, to learn everything we're doing, to getting in shape," Felton said. "He's having to go through all that all at the same time, and I think he's doing very, very well. But we need him to continue to progress and develop into the player that he can and will be."

Dawg Post Top Stories