Posted: 2:15 pm Monday, March 10th, 2014

Georgia on same track as Ole Miss, which won SEC tourney last year 

By Chip Towers

Listening in on the SEC men’s basketball coaches teleconference call this morning, it was clear that a lot of the league’s coaches are impressed with what Georgia did this season and many expect the Bulldogs to make some noise in the conference tournament this week at the Georgia Dome.

Georgia Bulldogs, college basketball, SEC

The Georgia Bulldogs streak into the SEC Tournament having won eight of their last 10 games. (John Kelley / UGA Sports)

The Bulldogs (18-12, 12-6 SEC) won eight of their last 10 games – including 69-61 over LSU in Baton Rouge on Saturday – to finish in a tie for second with Kentucky. They’ll enter the SEC tournament as the No. 3 seed and open play late Friday night against Ole Miss, Mississippi State or Vanderbilt, depending on which advances out of that side of the bracket.

“Georgia’s in great position,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said, and he should know.

The Rebels were in a remarkably similar situation last season when the SEC tournament was played at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. They finished in a three-way tie for second in the SEC during the regular season and got the No. 3 seed based on losing a tiebreaker with Kentucky and winning one with Alabama.

Ole Miss got the double bye into the quarterfinals and beat Missouri and Vanderbilt on the way to the finals. They knocked off No. 1 Florida 66-63 to claim the tournament championship.

“Last year we can in somewhat of a similar mode,” Kennedy said of Georgia. “They’re playing as well as anybody. With a hard-fought win at LSU in the last game, I’m sure they’ve got a lot of momentum and a lot of confidence. With the tournament being in their home state, I’m sure they’ll be a lot of Bulldogs in the building.”

Regardless of how Georgia fares in the tournament, coaches were lauding the job coach Mark Fox did this season. The outlook was bleak when the Bulldogs, projected to finish 11th in the league, entered SEC play with a 6-6 record.

Here’s what some SEC coaches had to say Monday:

  • Kentucky coach John Calipari: “I’ll tell you, what they’ve done, how they’ve played and to go on the road and win a game that matters – that (LSU) game mattered – it just tells you a lot. They struggled early, but it’s a sign of a good coach that’s able to keep his team together and keep them moving in the right direction. Right now, they believe as much as anyone in our league that they have a chance to win this thing.”
  • Florida coach Billy Donovan: “Even though we won handily at our place I thought they were gonna have a great year. … I really liked their team because I thought (Charles) Mann had gotten a lot better and (Kenny) Gaines had kind of evolved into a guy that would be a legitimate scorer. (Marcus) Thornton was hurt most of last year and they didn’t get much production from him, if any; he had started to come into his own. Their personnel has gotten better and Mark’s system puts those guys in situations to be very, very successful.”
  • South Carolina coach Frank Martin: “I don’t think they get the credit they deserve. Everyone says you need to schedule good in non-conference play. Well, Georgia did that. They went nose-to-nose with Davidson. Last time I checked Davidson was, what, 17-1 in league play. People are raving about Nebraska. Well, Georgia must have done something pretty good to go nose-to-nose with Nebraska.”
  • Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy: “I think Mark and his staff did an outstanding job of getting that team to understand who they were. I think they were 6-6 in the non-league. When you do that, people aren’t giving you much hope of moving up the standings once you get into league play. So credit to Mark and his staff. They looked in the mirror and made the necessary adjustments as to who they were and what was their best chance to be successful. They maximized that by having an outstanding run in our league. Last year we came in somewhat of a similar mode.”

 

18 comments
WhiskeyBreath
WhiskeyBreath

Mark Fox has done an excellent job with average players.

He could have easily tank it at the first of the year, but improved as the season went on.

Nice job. 

ARdawg
ARdawg

I, for one am excited to see the BB team make even a semblance of a run. Even so, it is sooo hard to get up for UGA basketball. Mark Fox has given us 4 years of less thn mediocre basketball. I have hope but no, I don't expect it to change this year. Good run though

TampGator1
TampGator1

I would say that Arkansas, Tennessee, and Georgia are the biggest threats to challenge Florida in Atlanta.  Georgia is a blue collar team that will fight you....and those teams are dangerous in a tourney.  Get to the finals and the Dawgs have a legit shot at the NCAA.  But they must get there and either win or play someone very tough in the final to go. 

coondawg69
coondawg69

would love to go and support UGA hoops this Friday night.  Have been to the Dome several times. The last was watching Dave Bliss doing what a class act sr does, hit a big shot to advance us over Ole Miss. 

Several years in row now, Fox has had this team playing better at year's end.  3rd place finish in the SEC?  OK, the SEC is down and the unbalanced schedule was kind, but we were still picked near the bottom of the conference.  That is a testament to the coaching staff and the hard work put in by the players.  Hustle on defense, mostly out work the other team on the boards, several guys stepping up to score big buckets at an important juncture of the game.   To quote "Mitch McDeere", it's not sexy, but it has teeth.

Here's to another solid game on Friday night and playing on Saturday.  And hope finally having the ATL faithful come out in support of what these kids and coaches deserve.

Go Dawgs!!!

SinceVince
SinceVince

I hate when many of our fans try to compare us what other teams is a similar situation has done in the past. All it does is set you up for failure. They have done the same in the past with our football team comparing  to what Bama did and it never came  to fruition. Bottom line it comes to coaching and how much the players want to win.

Phillipdj
Phillipdj

I agree with the comment below - UGA fans turned out about 4,000 for senior night. No way the Dome is suddenly packed with red and black. There will be more UK and UF fans there than Geirgia fans.

Fox is clearly a fantastic basketball mind. He'd probably thrive as a top assistant/tactician on an NBA bench.

Problem was, is and always will be that Georgia basketball teases it's fan base once every 5-6 years. Hugh Durham had 2 runs at it. Tubby got us excited and then ditched. Jim Harrick was probably the best coach we've ever had - but it was a true "deal with the devil" and we paid for it. Felton's miracle tornado tourney. Now this.

Georgia fans would embrace the program in a heartbeat if it showed a 3-4 year period of consistent relevancy. Next year could break this streak - and perhaps entice a 5 star or two to look at Uga.

Thompkins, Leslie and KCP were all drafted out of Georgia after Fox coached them. There's the start of his pitch.

This tournament is usually where the program fails. They're finally getting us interested again. There's a buzz going around. This is normally when they lose in the quarters on a last minute three and the buzz is over.

Hope they capitalize this time, but history says they won't. Hope I'm wrong.

DawgNight
DawgNight

I hear the national commentators say that several times, " I bet lots of Ga fans will  be there "

....Yeah right,  don't they know that our sorry fans won't come out when the game is in their own backyard, WHY WOULD THEY DRIVE TO ATL?


I love UGA BB..fan for a long time...Makes me sick how fareweather our fans are.....And they have the nerve to ask for a NEW BUILDING.  So some support 1st people!

GSU93
GSU93

There's no doubt that Fox can coach.  Great job Dawgs!  Good luck in the tourney!!

NCDawg
NCDawg

@ARdawg Mark Fox is a superior coach but has unfortunately a deficiency in recruiting.  I am struggling to figure out why.  He should be able to sell his ability to "coach 'em up" but that isn't working.  From what I understand he has a lack of contacts in the AAU leagues and that is why he can't bring the top players in.  I really think he needs to go grab a closer, somebody who has those AAU contacts and get him to close the deal on on a big fish or 2.  I think he can win big if he has the talent to work with.

SinceVince
SinceVince

@ScoreCheck  You and the clown above you just need to stop drinking the kool aid and face reality...

DawginLex
DawginLex

@Delusionaldog Ohio state is a cheating, inbred scum dwelling chokefest led by the slimiest human being in coaching anywhere

thebucket
thebucket

@Delusionaldog Hey Buckeye! Wake us up when your team beats a top 10 team or an SEC team in football.


michaeltheamerican
michaeltheamerican

@DawgNight After Kentucky, UGA typically has the most fans at the tourney when it's held in Atlanta.


Have you ever been to one?