ATHENS — For the first time all season, the Georgia men’s basketball team will have a Saturday home game.
And if ticket sales are any indication to the excitement around the Georgia fan base right now, Georgia’s men’s basketball team can be added to the teams drawing a crowd.
If students show up, like they are expected to, when Georgia hosts Alabama at noon on Saturday at Stegeman Coliseum, the Bulldogs could play in front of their first packed house of the season.
As of early Friday afternoon, all non-student tickets for the game had been sold out, leaving 2,000 student seats up for grabs for students in Athens.
And after a few months without a Saturday home game, Mark Fox is glad to finally see one arrive.
“It’s one of the great challenges at Georgia,” Fox said about the lack of a Saturday home game. “It’s that we are here in January before we have a Saturday home game so when you get those opportunities obviously you are excited because it is easier for your fans. It’s hard playing week nights for all of your home games.”
But Georgia’s first Saturday home game of the season won’t be an easy one as it hosts Alabama and one Collin Sexton, a standout freshman guard from Mableton.
Sexton has taken the Tide offense by storm, leading the entire SEC in scoring. Sexton averages a little more than 20 points per game and leads the conference in free throws made with 93.
Georgia senior Juwan Parker said that the emergence of freshmen taking over the game in the SEC is something that, along with just overall conference competition, he has seen grow significantly throughout his time at Georgia. Parker said that Sexton is a freshman who brings a lot of versatility to the court and that a lot of his success comes from being a non-stop player.
“Just from the few clips and games I have watched, he is very aggressive,” Parker said. “He can handle it, he can shoot, and he is always on the gas pedal.”
While Georgia will have its hands full with the freshman defensively, the Bulldogs have a lot of confidence coming out of Wednesday night’s win over Ole Miss, especially from Parker who had, arguably, the best night of his career.
Parker scored a career-high 18 points and pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds to secure. Thanks, in part, to new rehabilitation exercises and practices, Fox said this is probably the best Parker has looked after being riddled with injuries throughout his career.
“We actually changed [Juwan]’s plan about three weeks ago and changed his rehab a little bit which has really helped him,” Fox said. “I think he is looking and moving and feeling better physically than he has probably for well over a year.”
That helps Georgia (10-3 , 1-1 SEC) in many ways but possibly the most important way being that it adds even more depth to what Fox says is “probably one of the deepest teams” he has coached at Georgia.
But Alabama (9-5, 1-1) has a deep roster, too, including several young players who get see significant minutes on the floor in any given game.
“I would say it is going to be a hard fought game,” Georgia freshman Nicolas Claxton said. “Points are going to be harder to come by. We will have to have the grit to win out.”
And a win over Alabama on Saturday could be the start of a beautiful few days for Bulldogs fans with the two schools’ football teams playing each other for a nation title Monday.
“We will try to begin the sweep starting (Monday),” Claxton said.