Georgia basketball wants to make sure “two big losses” don’t turn into three on Wednesday night.
“It was two big losses, but at the end of the day it was two very good teams,” said Toumani Camara, one of nine Bulldogs’ freshmen. “We learned from it and are going to come back from it.”
Tennessee (10-5, 2-1 SEC) is next up for the Bulldogs (10-5, 0-2) at 7 p.m. (ESPNU) in yet another game expected to sell out at Stegeman Coliseum.
The Vols embarrassed Georgia last season 96-50, and the Big Orange rolls into the Classic City this time looking even bigger.
Tennessee received news on Tuesday that its 7-footer from Serbia, Uros Plavsic, has been cleared for action.
Georgia’s lack of experience hasn’t been as much of a hurdle this season as its lack of size, and Tom Crean knows that’s something the Vols could exploit.
“Tennessee is playing well, (and) definitely have a shot in the arm since they’ve added the young man from Europe (Plavsic),” Crean said. “They know what it takes to win. We don’t have that yet.
“But every day, (Georgia players) have got to understand that the rebounding is going to be a huge part any equation if we’re going to have success.
Freshman Anthony Edwards, a projected NBA lottery pick, has not been as big a part of the equation toward winning of late.
Edwards leads freshmen with 18.7 points per game, but he has appeared intimidated to go to the rim against the past two quality opponents, settling for challenging jump shots at times.
“I think that the problem and a big growth step for him right now is the is the predetermination,” Crean said. “He’s got a fantastic jump shot, and catch and shoot … we’ve got to continue to move him around more but he’s got to move around, but our entire team does.”
Georgia flashed its potential when it rang in the new year with a road win at then-No. 9 Memphis, 65-62. It was only the second non-conference road win over a ranked opponent in program history.
But the past two outings the Bulldogs have revealed the Bulldogs’ warts, in addition to driving up the schedule strength to No 8 in the nation, per the NCAA (NET) rankings.
Georgia folded in front of a sellout crowd in a 78-69 home loss to Kentucky last week, getting beat badly on the boards in the second half and settling for bad jump shots.
The result at No. 4 Auburn was even worse, the experienced Tigers out-playing and out-hustling the Bulldogs in an 82-60 blowout.
Junior Rayshaun Hammonds (13.6 points, 9.1 rebounds) says he knows Tennessee will prove a great challenge.
“They’re a hard team; they play hard on both ends,” said Hammonds, who failed to score in the 16 minutes he played and grabbed just one rebound.
“That’s always been their forte if you’ve ever seen them play. The main focus is just to play with physicality.”
Crean said he’s hoping for another sellout home crowd like Georgia had for Kentucky. The Bulldogs led by as many as 9 points over the Wildcats before fading in the second half.