ATHENS, Ga. - When looking at the tape and the boxscore from his team's 94-91 loss at Vanderbilt, Georgia coach Jim Harrick kept wondering what would have happened if he had given his top bench players more minutes.
Most intriguing to Harrick was the line from senior Richard Wehunt, who scored a career-high 16 points despite playing only 15 minutes.
"What would he have scored in 30 minutes?'' Harrick asked Friday. "That makes me mad, because I didn't find out.''
Wehunt, a 6-foot-4 guard from Jefferson High School and North Georgia College, transferred to Georgia last year as a walk-on. Even though he earned a scholarship for his senior year, Wehunt says he recognized his role as a backup whose playing time might be extremely limited.
The combination of Wehunt's strong outside shooting at Vanderbilt and Jarvis Hayes' ongoing battle with a hip flexor injury could combine to give Wehunt a longer look for 15th-ranked Georgia (12-5 overall, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) in tonight's home game against No. 21 Mississippi State.
"I definitely expect to play, but I don't know how much,'' Wehunt said Friday.
A strong 3-point shooter who scored 59 points in one game at Jefferson High and ranked second nationally among all NAIA scorers as a sophomore at North Georgia, Wehunt always has the potential for instant offense off the bench.
Even with Hayes less than 100 percent due to his injury, however, the dilemma for Harrick is finding more time for Wehunt.
Hayes and fellow starter Ezra Williams each rank among the top five scorers in the SEC. Top reserves Damien Wilkins, another wing player, and forward Jonas Hayes each play more than 20 minutes per game.
"It's basically like we have seven starters,'' Wehunt said.
That makes it difficult at times for Harrick to find any minutes for Wehunt, normally the eighth man.
"I'm a coach who has so much confidence in my starting five that I go with them sometimes too long,'' Harrick said. "It has made it difficult (to substitute for Hayes) although I look and see that he's not sliding and jumping like he can. That's a problem.''
Hayes said Friday "I'm feeling better, getting better every day.'' Hayes said he expects to be available for his normal share of court time tonight, especially since Georgia will have a week off before playing again next Saturday at Tennessee.
"I'm just going to go as hard as I can, knowing that I've got a week off,'' Hayes said. "I'll be 100 percent, at least for effort.''
Hayes admitted that the injury "affects my ability to jump, so I can't get the same lift on my shots.''
Despite the injury, Hayes played 34 minutes last Saturday in a win over Auburn and 33 minutes at Vanderbilt, though his shooting and defense were off in both games.
Hayes scored 12 and 14 points against Auburn and Vandy, respectively, for his two lowest totals in SEC regular-season games in his two seasons. He also scored 14 points against LSU last season.
Harrick admits he has difficulty taking the talented Hayes out of a game, even when the junior is not full speed. Still, Harrick was talking again Friday about a change in his normal playing rotation.
"I'll see how (Hayes) does,'' Harrick said. "Wilkins is playing really well for us and Wehunt is playing well for us. Maybe I'm too much dependent on these starters and I need to have more confidence in my bench.''
"I thought after I watched the tape that maybe if I had played Damien and Wehunt and Jonas longer, that could have been the game for us, but I didn't let them go.''
Added Harrick: "I'm mad at the coach about that.''