ATHENS — Georgia basketball looks to secure the best start in program history since the 1982-83 Final Four Bulldogs against Cincinnati on Saturday night.
The Bulldogs (5-0) tip off against the tested Bearcats (2-3) at 8 p.m. (TV: SEC Network) at Stegeman Coliseum.
“[Cincinnati] is by far the most physical and biggest team that we will have seen,” Georgia coach Tom Crean said. “They have big, strong, physical guards and wings that we have not seen yet that are going to come in and try to be incredibly aggressive and physical with our team.
“They’re big inside, without question, size-wise, and they score a lot at the rim.”
It’s another vertically-challenged Bulldogs’ bunch, with 6-foot-8 forward Toumani Camara the tallest player in the primary rotation, and 6-6, 230-pound P.J. Horne relying on his bulk for box outs.
Junior Tye Fagan made it clear Georgia isn’t putting too much pressure on itself.
Fagan, aware the Bulldogs football team saw Vanderbilt cancel on them, made the point that it’s just good to be able to play a game.
“In the way life is going right now, everything is not promised, every game is not promised,” Fagan said. “It’s just another opportunity to play the game that we love and go out and get better as a team as we always seem to do.
“As far as proving something, we’re not trying to prove to anyone but ourselves that we’re a better team than the past two years.”
Perhaps, but for Georgia to get a sniff at being ranked in the Top 25 and be considered for the NCAA tournament, games like Saturday night’s against Cincinnati must be won.
The Bearcats are playing just their second road game, falling to No. 12 Tennessee last Saturday, 65-56.
GeorgiaDogs.com noted Crean might have some flashbacks with Cincinnati opposing him.
Crean went 6-7 against Cincinnati while at his first coaching stop in Marquette (1999-2008).
“When I was growing up as a coach, every day it started with ‘What’s going on at Cincinnati?’ and ‘What’s going on at Louisville?’” Crean said. “My coaching career began with those two programs as a measuring stick. Every day was about how do we compete with Cincinnati.
“This game brings back tremendous intensity for me,” Crean added. “I can’t do anything about it except to help prepare this team. They’re the ones who’ve got to go out and be at a really, really high level competitively and toughness wise because that’s exactly what Cincinnati is. They know what they’re doing. They’re well-coached. They’re older. They’re much bigger than us. We’re going to have a lot to deal with their physicality and toughness.”