ATHENS -- The last time Mercer beat Georgia, only two people currently on either teams bench were alive: Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman and Georgia director of mens basketball operations Kent Davison.
The struggling Bulldogs will try to keep that streak alive when they host the Bears (6-5) in a brunch matchup Tuesday at Stegeman Coliseum in non-conference action.
The game will tip off at 11:30 a.m., and Georgia will host about 4,000 Clarke County school children.
Georgia leads the series 53-23 and hasnt lost to the Bears since Mercer won 66-62 win on Jan. 10, 1959.
When the teams met last December, Mercer was coming off a tough 80-77 loss at Seton Hall and Georgia just returned from a cross-country trip to Southern California, where the Bulldogs picked up a 63-59 win over the Trojans.
The teams were tied at halftime, but Georgia started easing away five minutes into the second half en route to a 72-58 win.
We played good for about 28, 30 minutes, Hoffman said. We got out of character, and I made some tactical errors last year, I thought, late in the game, and we just couldnt make shots, beyond that.
They grinded it out and played really good defense on us.
Its a fairly important game for Georgia head coach Mark Fox, who is in his fourth year but again has a young team, with three seniors, two juniors, five sophomores and four freshmen.
We played a very awkward lineup (Saturday) and a very young lineup, Fox said regarding Saturdays 81-78 overtime home loss to Iona. Our three freshmen (were) in the game together most of the game.
Nevertheless, the Bulldogs are 2-7 -- they havent been 2-8 or worse since a 1-10 start in 1970-71 -- and Fox has dropped below .500 at Georgia (52-53).
Two losses came to No. 1 Indiana 66-53 and No. 11 UCLA 60-56. Four of the other five losses -- to Southern Miss, South Florida, Georgia Tech and Iona -- are marketable. Three of those teams were in the top 50 in RPI last year and won at last 22 games, and Georgia Tech is improved under second-year head coach Brian Gregory.
Southern Miss, South Florida, Georgia Tech and Youngstown State all have winning records and are a combined 24-12. Iona reached .500 (4-4) with the win.
Our team has not learned how to win yet, said Fox, whose team has lost three straight and is 2-3 at home. We have put ourselves in position, but that is something that you learn as a unit. We obviously havent learned that yet.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the only Georgia player getting more than eight points per game, with a 17.4 average to go with a team-high 7.2 rebounds.
Theyve got one of the best scorers in the SEC in Pope, who can catch and shoot and take over a game by himself, Hoffman said. Hes averaging almost (30) percent of their scoring at this point.
Mercer beat Chattanooga 63-53 on Sunday.
I thought we just showed some toughness and resiliency that we need to get better at in those kinds of games against a really athletic team, Hoffman said. They kind of made a couple runs at us late, but we withstood it.
We threw the ball away more than wed have liked, but I thought we were strong with the ball more often than not. I thought we rebounded with great intensity. It gave us extra opportunities.
Mercer will need those against a team hungry to start winning and avoid a loss to a team for the first time in more than 50 years.
They have three top-50 players in the country that are freshmen trying to figure it out, finding their way a little it, Hoffman said. Theyre talented as all get-out.
I think theyve had some misfortune at the end of games that would have helped their confidence, especially with a young team. Thats hurt their growth, especially early in the season. They still have time to get it fixed. I just hope they get it fixed after we play them.