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Post Big three-game test coming up for Dawgs

Monday January 29, 2007

Riding high at 5-2, the Georgia basketball team is about to enter what might be their toughest stretch of the SEC season. Their next three games:

  • at Tennessee
  • at Vanderbilt
  • vs. Florida

Because of the nature of SEC road games and the quality of the competition, this is every bit as demanding as the Clemson-Wisconsin-Florida stretch a month ago. As PWD points out, road wins in the SEC are ridiculously rare this year. Georgia has one of the six, and that makes the missed opportunity at Alabama even bigger. It’s a very good thing that Georgia has been able to hold serve at home thus far. With road wins so scarce around the conference, you have to take care of things at home and steal what you can on the road if you hope to have a strong enough conference record when the season ends.

Tennessee has dropped five of their last six with all five losses coming on the road. That’s a pretty brutal schedule – the Vols have played five road games and just two home games in January. The good news for them is that they have four of their next five at home, and they are undefeated at home this year. Even with neither Pat Summitt or Phil Fulmer showing up topless, they’ve done very well at home and have knocked off Memphis and Texas there. The bad news for them is that Chris Lofton remains injured. Even if he tries to go, he won’t be 100%. Without Lofton, South Carolina was able to put a scare into the Vols at home. Georgia hasn’t won at Tennessee since 2001, so they’ll have a lot more than just Lofton to overcome.

Vandy is one of the hottest teams in the league, though a midweek trip to Florida might cool them down a bit. They’ve knocked off Alabama and Tennessee at home, but they’ve also impressively downed Kentucky and LSU on the road. Georgia’s 85-73 win earlier in the month is the only thing keeping the Commodores from a six-game winning streak. Memorial is always a unique and tough place to play, but Georgia managed to take a game there last season. Can they do it again?

Florida of course is the nation’s #1 team. If Georgia can get one or two of these road games, the Stegeman effect should be in full force for the Gators even better than it was for Kentucky. If Georgia could ever pull off that upset, they’ll need the crowd.

Georgia is carrying a lot of momentum entering this stretch, and it’s important for both the team and the fans who have gotten so excited over this 5-2 start to maintain this enthusiasm no matter what happens over this three-game block. If we can get a couple of wins from it, all the better. The SEC season is a long haul, and the difference between teams that make the postseason and those that don’t is the ability to keep up focus and high level of play over the course of the season and not for just a couple of weeks.

It’s an exciting time – in ten days the possibilities for this season will become a lot more clear. At the very worst, they’ll still be above .500 but fighting for postseason position with each game over the last month of the season. But there’s also the possibility to take a big step forward over these next three games and leave no doubt about the return of the Georgia program.

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