Home has indeed been kind to the Georgia basketball team, although as the Bulldogs continued preparations for Saturday's game against visiting South Carolina, the team's continued road woes continued to weigh heavily on head coach Mark Fox's mind.
Not counting a neutral court-victory over Illinois, the Bulldogs (10-12, 2-7) are 0-9 away from the friendly environs of Stegeman Coliseum, a record that includes a one-point loss (78-77) to these same Gamecocks (14-9, 5-4) two weeks ago in Columbia.
"Our team has a lot to learn; it had a lot to learn coming into the season, how to work appropriately, how hard they had to play, how hard they had to mentally prepare for a game, how to travel, how to win on the road and we have not made the progress on the road that we wanted," Fox Friday. "We're not going to fix it overnight, but I'm not wild about our road routines, I'm not wild about our approach on the road. But we're working on it."
It's been different story at home.
Georgia enters Saturday's 4 p.m. tipoff (SEC Network, ESPN360) a nifty 10-3 at Stegeman, including a trio of victories over teams ranked in the top 25.
South Carolina's not ranked, but the Gamecocks hold the distinction of handing second-ranked Kentucky its only loss earlier this year.
Georgia, meanwhile, is coming off a disappointing 82-63 loss at Auburn.
"There's been just two or three times when I've been extremely disappointed in this team and that would be one of those times."
Senior guard Ricky McPhee said he can't quite put his finger on why the Bulldogs' road issues have been such a problem.
"It's just something we have to overcome; we just need to come out better prepared and be more aggressive," McRee said. "I don't really have an answer other than we play harder, be more aggressive and get off to a better start."
Keeping Trey Thompkins out of foul trouble is always a welcomed sign.
Saddled with foul trouble, Thompkins played a career low 13 minutes against Auburn, finishing with a season-low six points.
"I think Trey being in foul trouble the other night certainly shows just how important he is to our team," Fox said of Thompkins, who leads Georgia in scoring with 17 points per game. "Without him on the floor we struggle to score. Trey's really matured as a player and played a huge role, so for a team that's struggled to score we need him to be in the flow and be productive."
NOTE: Fox said Friday's he's still looking into the situation involving senior center/forward Albert Jackson following his arrest early Friday morning on a warrant stemming from a misdemeanor charge of hit and run of a parked vehicle back on Jun. 6, 2008. As of 3 p.m. Friday afternoon, Fox was unsure whether Jackson would play in Saturday's game against South Carolina. "Albert's situation will be dealt with internally," Fox said. "This stems from something that happened two years ago that he just failed to take of. Obviously, two years ago I wasn't here and I don't know the details of that."
South Carolina at Georgia
WHERE: Stegeman Coliseum
WHEN: Saturday, 4 p.m.
RECORDS: Georgia 10-12, 2-7; South Carolina 14-9, 5-4
TV: SEC Network, ESPN360)
RADIO: Georgia Bulldog Radio Network
NEXT GAME: Wednesday at Tennessee.
Saturday's game is the first of five "return" games in the double round-robin circuit with the SEC's Eastern Division. These two teams met in Columbia two weeks ago, and South Carolina prevailed in the final minute 78-77, a game in which Georgia led for nearly the entire final 30 minutes.
Georgia's 10-12 overall record belies the handful of so-called "quality wins" to its credit this season. The Bulldogs have notched three wins over Top 25 opponents -- all of whom are among the top 30 of the current RPI listings, as well as a neutral-court win over Illinois, which is tied for the Big Ten lead after five straight wins.
Additionally, Georgia's strength-of-schedule rating currently stands at 9th among all 347 DiviŽsion I programs. Not since 2003 has a Bulldog team's SOS rating been that high. Both the 2001 and 2003 teams had schedules rated as the nation's most difficult by season's end.
Saturday's game marks the Georgia Basketball letterman's reunion, an occasion that annually draws a large crowd of former players and staff-ers to the recognition and post-game reception.
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