ATHENS — Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean has taken the approach to embrace the rivalry with Georgia Tech.
Crean, unlike some coaches, makes no attempt to downplay the significance of rivalry games.
“The most important thing in those types of (rivalry) games are they are obviously huge and circle in red,” Crean said on Friday. “The greatest fear as a coach is to not let your players get out of character in that game.
“Everybody wants to be the hero in that game, and it doesn’t work that way.”
The Bulldogs (6-4) play the Yellow Jackets (6-4) at noon on Saturday in McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta (TV:ESPNU).
Both teams are coming off wins.
Georgia beat Oakland 81-69 on Tuesday. Georgia Tech scored a 69-65 win at Arkansas on Wednesday.
Crean has experience in several high-profile rivalries, from his days as Tom Izzo’s lead assistant in the Michigan State rivalry with Michigan, to his head coaching rivalries at Marquette (Wisconsin) and Indiana (Purdue).
“You are aware what games mean more to the players and more importantly, the fans, (and) this is obviously one of them,” Crean said. “We have got to do a good job on lay them the right way, which is use loosely, but I mean what is the game giving us.
“We want to run and get out and go, but if they want to create a more slower pace, then we’ve got to deal with that as well.”
The Yellow Jackets are 5-1 at home this season. The game between the teams on Saturday is a sellout.
The Bulldogs won last season’s game in Athens by an 80-59 count, led by since-departed star Yante Maten’s 24 points and six rebounds.
Georgia Tech leads the all-time series 105-89, but Georgia has a 13-10 edge since the teams starting playing alternately on each other’s campuses in 1995-96.
The Bulldogs have won the past three meetings, but prior to that the Yellow Jackets had won four in a row.
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