December 22, 2006

Dawgs ready to rumble with Jackets

The Georgia Bulldog (8-1) basketball team will look to
pick up their ninth win of 2006-07 season when they travel to Atlanta on Friday
to face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (7-3, 0-1 ACC).


The Bulldogs knocked off the Yellow Jackets last season
in Athens 91-75, but the Bulldogs may be short their starting point guard for
the game. Junior point guard
Sundiata Gaines who is the heart
of the Bulldog offense sprained his ankle against the Jacksonville Dolphins
on Tuesday night and he is still questionable for the game.


Gaines is leaning towards playing, but it will be a game
time decision by Gaines and head coach Dennis Felton.


"I had a similar injury in the exhibition against
College of Charleston earlier this year and I came back within three days, so
it is pretty much day-to-day right now. This is a tough stretch for us and I
want to do as much as I can to get back out there and play," said Gaines.


Felton is confident Gaines will be able start against
the Yellow Jackets.


"As far as I am concerned Sundiata will start against
Georgia Tech and if he does not then we make adjustments," said Felton.


If Gaines cannot play, sophomore Mike Mercer
will shift from the three position to the point to replace Gaines. Mercer had
eleven assists and six turnovers in place of Gaines on Tuesday night and coach
Felton thinks he is still learning how to play the point rather than being a
scorer.


"He is still learning how to see the big picture,
but he has the skills and the athleticism to play the position. There is so
much to manage and if you think about it Sundiata is a junior and he is still
learning because he was not a point guard when he came in here, so Mike is still
learning," said Felton.


Mercer leads the Bulldogs in scoring this season with
an 18.1 point per game average and he is not worried if he needs to fill in
for Gaines.


"It will not be difficult for me if I have to play
the point because point guard is my natural position and I grew up playing the
point. It will really hurt the team if we do not have our primary ball handler
out there, but we will adjust," said Mercer.


Yellow Jackets Inconsistent


Georgia Tech has three loses this year to #5 UCLA, Vanderbilt,
and Miami, but they beat #11 Memphis on the road 92-85. The Bulldogs will have
to shut down junior guard
Lewis Clinch (17.1 ppg) and the two
star freshmen forward
Thaddeus Young (14.1 ppg) and guard Javaris Crittenton (13.9 ppg). The Yellow Jackets play three freshmen that
each average more than 20 minutes per game which may be leading to some of their
inconsistency especially on the road.


The Yellow Jackets are averaging 84.5 points per game
this season and are 6-1 in Atlanta.


The game will feature two of the highest scoring offenses
in the nation because the Bulldogs are third in the nation in scoring at 91.8
points per game while Georgia Tech averages 84.5 points per game.


Chances are the game will not be a defensive struggle
or a low scoring affair.


Bench Paying Dividends


The Georgia Bulldogs bench has been a major offensive
factor this season for Georgia. A little less than half of Georgia's scoring
this season has come from the bench that averages 39.9 points per game this
year.


Junior forward Takais Brown (15.1 ppg),
sophomore guard Billy Humphrey (8.9 ppg) sophomore forward
Terrance Woodbury (8.0) are all averaging more than eight points
per game this year off the pine.


Georgia had only two players last year Mercer and Humphrey
that averaged more than eight points per game.


Georgia Tech has surrendered at least 70 points in all
but two games this season compared to Georgia's four.


Looking for Bragging Rights


Georgia holds the season edge in football, baseball,
and women's basketball against Georgia Tech this season and coach Felton's
team will try to complete the sweep for the year of 2006.


"Right now Georgia Tech is the most important game
for us because it is the only one on the schedule," said Felton. "We
enjoy playing them and it is a good rivalry. Those rivalries heighten the fans'
passion and participation. As competitors and performers, the more attention
you get the more you like it and the more you get excited playing."


Coach Felton understands the importance of beating the
Yellow Jackets around Athens and he is 2-1 against Georgia Tech even though
the Yellow Jackets hold the series edge 99-83.


"We would love to be able to say we beat Georgia
Tech. I think it goes without being said that everyone here wants us to do well
against our instate rival," said Felton.



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