ATHENS - After a one-game suspension, junior forward Donte' Williams and freshman guard Kenny Gaines will return for Saturday's game against Mississippi State, Georgia men's basketball head coach Mark Fox said on Friday.
Williams and Gaines didn't make the trip on Wednesday, when Georgia was shellacked by No. 11 Florida, 77-44.
"We obviously had a major distraction before we left (for Florida), and this group didn't handle it well at all, and then faced a great opponent on their court," Fox said. "It was a perfect storm in that way. And we didn't play well at all. We needed to come home and regroup."
Fox would not say what the two players did to incur the suspension.
"They didn't do anything malicious, they just behaved in a way that was not acceptable, so I suspended them for a game," Fox said.
The suspensions came at a time when the Bulldogs (6-8 after the loss to the Gators) were on a four-game win streak and beginning SEC play.
"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. That certainly made that difficult, because we didn't have Marcus (Thornton) also. So we were as thin as we'll probably ever be."
Thornton continues to be out with nagging knee problems. A medical redshirt is a possibility, but Fox said nothing has been decided yet.
Williams is the team's third-leading scorer - at just 5.7 points per game - and second-leading rebounder. He is also the most experienced, having started every game last year and 10 this year.
It's been a run of trouble recently for Williams, who was arrested for marijuana possession last summer, although he was later cleared, and vowed that he doesn't do drugs. Still, Fox sat Williams down for the first three games of this season, for reasons Fox said were unrelated to the arrest or UGA's internal drug policy.
Gaines, on the other hand, didn't have a hint of off-field trouble upon his arrival on campus. The Riverdale native is even nicknamed Kenny G - because he can play the piano.
This year Gaines is averaging nine minutes per game, 12th on the team, but when he has played he has infused some energy and defense.
Mississippi State (6-7) only has seven scholarship players under new head coach Rick Ray, and on Wednesday just barely beat South Carolina - another one of the teams expected to struggle in the SEC. So Saturday's game, from Georgia's standpoint, is pivotal in the sense of showing it won't be one of the SEC's worst teams.