Georgia basketball is riding the first two-game SEC winning streak of Tom Crean’s two-year tenure, but no one in the Bulldogs’ locker room is comfortable or complement.
And why would they be?
South Carolina dominated Georgia the last time the teams’ met, scoring a 75-59 win in Athens two weeks ago in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.
The Bulldogs (14-13, 4-10 SEC) play the Gamecocks (16-11, 8-6) at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday in 18,000-seat Colonial Life Arena (TV: SEC Network).
“There’s really nobody that played well against South Carolina the first time in the sense of getting into the fight and being in the mix,” Crean said at a media availability on Tuesday in Stegeman Coliseum.
“They took advantage of it. We did not respond to the physicality of the game. We didn’t cut, we didn’t move the ball the way that we needed to, and we lost our way a little bit in that game when it came to fighting back.”
Indeed, the Bulldogs look like they had hit the wall and finally had enough with the season.
But then last week came, when Georgia beat then-No. 13 Auburn at home, 65-55, and went on the road and neat Vanderbilt 80-78.
The Bulldogs were one of only three teams in the SEC to go 2-0 during the week, one more indication of just how balanced the league is this season.
A Georgia win at South Carolina would give the program its first three-game win streak in league action in nearly three years (Feb. 23, Feb 25, March 1, 2017).
Crean said his team is eager to get back on the floor after the exciting, last-second win at Vanderbilt.
“It’s always tough when you play South Carolina, but it’s what we want to go get measured against right now,” said Crean, who dropped a 66-46 decision in Columbia last year.
“We’re improving. I think we’re getting better. I think we’re learning, and now we get a chance to go on the road again before we come back for two in a row at home.”
Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, continues to lead the nation’s freshman in scoring (18.9 points per game).
Crean said Edwards has handled the scrutiny that comes with his talent well, and shared how he prepared the 18-year-old young man for the criticism that was sure to come his way this season.
“We said this at the end of the summer: When you come in with the expectation level, when you come in with the ranking he has, there is no where to go but down from that,” Crean said. “It wasn’t like he was going up from that.”
Edwards has handled criticism in stride and has maintained his joy for the game, which has had a carryover effect on the team.
Freshman point guard Sahvir Wheeler is another Georgia player who always seems to be smiling.
That attitude has led to the sort of resiliency that makes the Bulldogs a dangerous team to face at the end of the season for the bubble teams remaining on their schedule: South Carolina, Arkansas, Florida and LSU.
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