Dawgs Hit Low Point

ATHENS – Georgia has been through hard times before, but junior center Albert Jackson said last Saturday's 76-42 loss to Illinois was a low point.

Even throughout last year's four-win regular season in conference and the rampant rumors of their coach's imminent firing, the Bulldogs never quit, Jackson said. That wasn't the case against Illinois in a game when Georgia failed to muster a point in the final 7:18 of the game.

"The last 10 minutes, we gave up," Jackson said. "I don't like to say that – I've never had to say that – but as a team, we gave up and let them pull away."

More than simply mailing in the final 10 minutes of action against the Illini, Jackson said tempers flared between the Bulldogs throughout.

Once things began to fall apart down the stretch, Jackson said several of the players began fighting amongst themselves and arguing back and forth on the court. Head coach Dennis Felton didn't go quite so far, deeming the disagreements "shared moments of frustration."

Regardless of the severity of the disagreements, a players-only meeting was held after the game followed by an extended discussion led by Felton, who preached the importance of coming together as a team before Georgia hosts Virginia Tech today at Stegeman Coliseum.

"We have to execute better offensively and get more persistent and patient with a team offense," Felton said.

The chaos in the loss to Illinois came in stark contrast compared to the close loss the Bulldogs suffered at the hands of Western Kentucky just days earlier in an environment Jackson said was far more hostile than what they faced in Chicago on Saturday.

Jackson said he couldn't explain the vastly divergent performances last week, but senior Terrence Woodbury, who led the Bulldogs with 13 points against Illinois, said the team lacked leadership – a problem for which he assumed responsibility.

"We didn't have anybody step up and play like we needed them to play or give the leadership we needed to have last game, and most of that is on me," he said.

Georgia's youth and long list of early season injuries could also have played a part in the jostling of egos and personal differences, but Woodbury said there is no excuse for the performance Georgia turned in against Illinois.

"We've got guys coming in and out of the roster getting major minutes, and we haven't really been able to gel with each other, but at the end of the day, the truth is the court," Woodbury said. "We've all played basketball before. This is nothing new to us. It's just like playing a pickup game. You play until you want to lose or until somebody knocks you out. We definitely aren't trying to lose but right now we just can't get the consistency out of everybody together at the same time."

That will be the Bulldogs' goal tonight against Virginia Tech.

The Hokies have met with their fair share of adversity this season, too, losing at the last second to both Xavier and Wisconsin. Virginia Tech's three losses this season have come by a combined total of just seven points.

A.D. Vassallo, Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen have each averaged at least 15 points per game for Virginia Tech so far this season, and the trio of scorers will test Georgia's resolve, Felton said.

"Those three guys really do carry the weight for them offensively, and they're not easy to stop," Felton said. "They are playing excellent basketball this season."

While it will be the Bulldogs' aim to shut down the Hokies' attack, a win may be secondary, Jackson said. With an 11-day break following tonight's game for Georgia, taking a step forward as a team is more significant than the final score.

"A lot of people may feel like this is a must win. That's not how I feel," Jackson said. "We're a young team, and I think this game, we've got to show the heart and the determination and we have to execute as a team. Win or lose, I feel like we have to show improvement."

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