Georgia hopes return home provides an advantage

semerson@macon.comFebruary 22, 2013 

ATHENS -- Mark Fox’s voice was raspy was Friday afternoon. The Georgia basketball head coach admitted he didn’t get much sleep the night before, after another gut-wrenching road loss.

“I walked out of there madder than I’ve probably been in a long time,” Fox said.

Which loss -- Jan. 16 at Mississippi or Thursday at Arkansas -- did he mean?

“Both of them,” he said. “Hopefully we can take the pluses and learn from them and become a better team. But I’m not happy with two last-second losses.”

Now the Bulldogs are back home. But the question is how much of a home-court advantage Georgia gets at Stegeman Coliseum. At 5,699 fans per game, Georgia ranks last in the SEC this year in attendance.

The Bulldogs have played very well on the road lately, with near-wins at Ole Miss and Arkansas following three straight road wins, at Texas A&M, South Carolina and Tennessee.

“Our team has probably played better on the road than at home. That’s probably true,” Fox said, while declining to elaborate on why that may be. “I haven’t looked into it. But we’ve enjoyed playing in hostile territory.”

It will be important for the Bulldogs (12-14 overall, 6-7 SEC) to figure things out at home. As the SEC regular season hits the final stretch, Fox’s team is both two games out of fourth place (which earns a double-bye in the SEC tournament) and 11th place (which means having to win five games to win the SEC tournament).

So the final five games could finish a lot of different ways for the Bulldogs. Just like the past two games.

Georgia is on a three-game losing streak right now, after a five-game win streak. But in reality it’s not playing much different, with the past two losses having been tight road losses.

“I thought we played really well at Ole Miss. I thought we played really well in the second half (at Arkansas),” Fox said. “I don’t think we’re playing much different.”

South Carolina (13-13, 3-10) isn’t quite a walkover, even though Georgia won three weeks ago in Columbia. The Gamecocks are coming off a win over Ole Miss.

Saturday’s game will be on CBS, with Doug Gottlieb as the color analyst.

“It’s good exposure, and how we play is gonna determine a large part of what that exposure is,” Fox said. “But also our fans have a lot to do with what kind of exposure that is, because we need to showcase that environment, so we need their help.”

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