ATHENS — Georgia basketball will takes the floor to face Columbus State at 5 o’clock on Wednesday in Stegeman Coliseum jumping into the unknown.
No scrimmages, no exhibitions just Bulldogs’ basketball full speed ahead, per third-year coach Tom Crean.
The game can be viewed on SEC Network-plus. There will be a socially-distanced crowd of 1,638 fans (15.6 percent) on hand, with no more tickets or seating availability.
The coaches and players on the benches will be required to wear masks. The fans will be required to wear their masks their entire game, except when eating or drinking.
It has been a fluid offseason to be sure, as Georgia announced on Tuesday that it will play Florida A&M at 2 p.m. on Sunday following the recent news that the Sunday game with Gardner Webb had been canceled.
Crean said there are plenty of unknowns ahead, both on and off the court, and the UGA attitude it to attack them at 100 mph.
“The only people you have played against is yourselves, and you haven’t played in front of anybody, that’s by far the hardest thing about this,” said Crean, who divulged last week that Georgia had several positive COVID-19 tests last fall but has been clear of such complications of late.
“There will be a lot of figuring it out as you go, and we’ll have to make adjustments and take it as it comes,” Crean said. “You throw in eight new players, and it becomes even harder.”
Then, you take out the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, former UGA star Anthony “Antman” Edwards, and you’re really left to wonder what Crean’s third version of Georgia basketball will look like.
“Well, he [Anthony Edwards] was a big piece for us last year, but when you lose a talent like that you move forward as a team,” UGA junior Tye Fagan said. “For us as a team we will play fast, tough and strong. We are not the biggest team, but we have other factors that will make up for that.”
Virginia Tech graduate transfer P.J. Horne is the most notable addition to the team, a 6-foot-6, powerful force expected to pick up a load of the scoring and rebounding.
“He’s a winner, (and he’s someone who has won in the state of Georgia,” Crean said, referencing Horne’s two state championships at Tift County High School. “He’s done a lot for a guy that is 6-6 and to have the matchups that he’s had in the ACC, and at the same time, change his game. The improvement level was outstanding.
“He went from making one three as a sophomore, to making 45 threes as a junior. We’re excited about him, we really are. We’re very fortunate and excited to have him.”
The Bulldogs return UGA freshman assists record holder Sahvir Wheeler at point guard from last season’s 16-16 team along with 6-8 returning starting forward Toumani Camara.
Georgia basketball notes
• Georgia is 82-33 all-time in season-opening games.
• UGA has broken the all-time attendance mark in each of Crean’s first two seasons at the helm
• This marks Georgia’s first meeting with Division ll Columbus State since 1991, an 86-70 victory.