Georgia faces very early barometer game

semerson@macon.comJanuary 11, 2013 

ATHENS -- After a “major distraction” and a major lopsided loss, the Georgia men’s basketball team faces what might be an early referendum on its season.

Principally, whether Georgia has a chance to at least be decent -- or whether the wins will be hard to come by.

Mississippi State is one of the few teams in the SEC whose résumé is as poor as Georgia. The other Bulldogs enter Stegeman Coliseum on Saturday with a 6-7 record, after a two-point home win over South Carolina -- one of the SEC’s other bottom dwellers. Mississippi State has an RPI rank of 271, the worst in the SEC, and new head coach Rick Ray has just seven healthy scholarship players.

So for Georgia, coming off a 33-point loss at No. 11 Florida, this is the kind of game it absolutely needs to win.

“It’s an important game, as every SEC (game) is,” sophomore forward Nemanja Djurisic said. “But it’s important for us to regroup, to focus on them right now and to try to do our best.”

Georgia will have back the services of two players who missed the Florida game. Junior forward Donte’ Williams and freshman guard Kenny Gaines were suspended for the trip.

“They didn’t do anything malicious; they just behaved in a way that was not acceptable, so I suspended them for a game,” head coach Mark Fox said.

Fox said the suspensions were a “major distraction” for the team as it headed to Florida.

“It’s very disappointing to have to do that. But right is right. And we’re trying to make men out of young men. It was distracting, but it’s behind us, and we’re gonna move forward,” Fox said. “The commitment is always first to your players. You’re trying to win, certainly, but the most important thing in your program is helping your young men grow.”

Georgia (6-8) is struggling now, but during the game it will get a reminder of the program’s glory days.

The team that made it to the Final Four in 1983 will be honored, with head coach Hugh Durham and star player Vern Fleming expected to attend.

“One of the first things I did when I came to Georgia was put up pictures of the previous players and teams, because there weren’t any,” Fox said. “So we put up pictures of that team. I think it’s great that they come back, and hopefully our guys will play in a way that those guys will be proud of.”

Still, the major question for Fox is whether his team will be able to flush Wednesday’s result and move on.

“Win or lose, you don’t take the last game into the next game,” Fox said.

Then Fox smiled.

“Are we mature enough to be able to do that? I’m not sure, we won’t know that until we play,” he said.

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service