They didn’t like to lose.
“I think our players were unhappy losing a game,” Fox said Monday. “So, the fact that they were disappointed in the first loss and their reaction to avoid having a second was probably the thing that we were most pleased with.”
Georgia has since played in two big games, against Saint Mary’s and Marquette, two well-established basketball programs. Georgia defeated them both.
Now back in Athens after a few days in California, Georgia (6-1) will take on Winthrop (5-3) Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Redshirt senior Juwan Parker described Winthrop as an exceptionally high-powered offense, saying the Eagles have the capabilities to shoot out wide better than just about anyone so far this season.
“They are a very talented offensive team,” Parker said. “Top to bottom they are great three-point shooters, so it’s about taking them out of their comfort zone and taking away what they like to do.”
And Parker isn’t wrong. In three of its last five appearances, Winthrop has scored more than 100 points. Through Saturday’s set of games, Winthrop was ranked 13th nationally in scoring, averaging around 90 points a game. This offensive spark has not been lost on Fox throughout the past few days of preparation.
“Winthrop has broken the century mark several times already this season and they are an outstanding offensive team,” Fox said “They really play a style that I think allows them to score from a lot of different places. …They are not a team that you are just going to shut down or lock up, they are just too good offensively.”
This means playing sound defense to combat Winthrop’s offensive numbers, which also means getting help from every player across the board. For Georgia, it isn’t about being a one-man show anymore.
“For us to be really good we are going to have to be a balanced team, and while we do have a great player in Yante Maten, other teams know that too,” Fox said. “So, now they are obviously starting to plan ways to slow him down and the more we can get other people to score, the better off we are going to be.”
This means getting the ball to freshman like Rayshaun Hammonds and Teshaun Hightower, who both made a couple of important free throws down the stretch in Georgia’s recent win over Marquette.
“I don’t think we have ever been shy of playing freshmen,” Fox said. “The guys who give you the best chance to win get in the game. The other night, two of them just happened to be freshmen.”
And it will need to be a collective effort from all Georgia players when it comes to stopping Winthrop’s high-powered offense. But Fox said that a competitive spirit goes a long way in winning games. It is something he has seen from his team recently, and something that he hopes to see continue into tomorrow night.
“Hopefully our team starts to show a competitive character,” Fox said. “I think in the last two games we had that level of competitiveness and execution against good teams.”