Fox & Dawgs Look for Road Win

ATHENS – It could be a carrot Mark Fox dangles in front of his team to keep them focused, but that might be getting a bit ahead of himself.

It could be a distraction that the team hopes to avoid, but after so little was expected of Georgia this season, a little light at the end of the tunnel is actually a pretty impressive beacon of hope.

Instead, the potential of playing in a postseason tournament remains something in between for the Bulldogs – a potential reward for a season of immense growth, still just far enough out of reach that it can't possibly overshadow the task at hand.

"We've talked about, if they would just keep both feet in today and take care of business every day, at the end of the year you put yourself in position to have a chance," Fox said. "We do have a chance, if we manage the next few games the right way, to put ourself in that position. But we can't get too far ahead and lose sight of what's most important." With six conference games and the SEC tournament remaining, Georgia is 11-12 overall and 3-7 in conference – meaning a trip to the NCAA tournament is unlikely, barring a miracle run similar to the unexpected conclusion to the 2007-08 season.

But while the overall record isn't likely to turn heads, the underlying resume is actually pretty impressive.

The Bulldogs are 90th overall in RPI – not a great number – but boast the No. 12 strength of schedule in the country. While a few ugly losses – Wofford early, Auburn more recently – and a winless record on the road provide ample reason to overlook Georgia, wins over Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Illinois (all of which are ranked in the RPI top 70) are more than enough to prove the Bulldogs are capable of being extremely dangerous down the stretch.

Still, it's one game at a time for the up-and-down Bulldogs, who have yet to earn back-to-back wins in conference play. They'll try to put an end to that – along with their winless road record – when they travel to Tennessee tonight in hopes of adding yet another impressive line to their resume.

What gives Georgia some hope is that, for the first time this season, it will face an opponent on the road that it has already played – and beaten – once.

"We know what to expect against Tennessee, but it's a lot different environment on the road," guard Ricky McPhee said. "We're just looking to put two good games together, and hopefully we'll come out with a win."

It has been a struggle all year to win games away from Stegeman Coliseum, with the Bulldogs stumbling to an 0-9 mark on the road this season. Part of the struggles have come from a lack of confidence, some from a lack of maturity. But those are fixable, Fox said.

The other problems are simply a matter of policies that were in place before Fox arrived 10 months ago – from media sessions on travel days to early departure times for trips – and there aren't many large-scale changes he can implement in the short term.

"I don't like our routines that are in place," Fox said. "Our players are rushed, practice gets squeezed, and we just have to find a fit that works for everybody. We can't shortchange so many areas. We've tweaked it some, and we'll probably tweak it a lot a year from now."

One other bright note, however, is the return of center Albert Jackson from a one-game hiatus following an arrest last week.

Fox said Jackson will be on the court tonight in Knoxville, Tenn. but it hasn't been determined who will get the start after Jackson's replacement, Jeremy Price, keyed a win over South Carolina last Saturday with 16 points and seven rebounds.

"Albert just didn't play the other night, and I'm pretty confident he'll play (against Tennessee)," Fox said. "I think for us, it's a game where we're going to need everybody."


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