March 5, 2009

High times in Lexington

A native of Earlington, Ky., Georgia's Albert Jackson is no stranger to Rupp Arena having played there a number of times.

But never, not in high school, watching games on TV or having competed there as a collegian, did he witness what he saw during the Bulldogs' 90-85 win Wednesday night.

"It was the first time I had ever been in Rupp Arena for high school or college and it's been completely quiet," Jackson said before practice Thursday afternoon. "There were periods during the game where you could drop a needle on the floor and heard the needle drop so it was pretty different for me. I'm used to it being a loud and exciting type of place."

The noise Jackson and the rest of the Bulldogs heard at the game's conclusion did come as a surprise.

"At the end of the game they were booing," Jackson said. "I'm not sure if it was us or their players. I've not quite gotten that one figured out yet."

One suspects it was the latter.

After the game, fans could be seen throwing objects toward head coach Billy Gillispie as boos and taunts reigned down from the proverbial rafters. Television replays showed some small objects being thrown from the stands.

On CatsPause.com, at one point over 13,000 fans flooded that site's basketball message board to express their displeasure with the status of the Wildcat team, which is now in danger of not making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 18 years.

Jackson said it got ugly.

"Every now and then you might get a few comments, but honestly I've never heard our crowd turn on us like theirs did on them," Jackson said. "Our crowd has never started booing us. Every school has fans where if you are losing they are not going to come out and support you as much, but the fans who come to our games are always going to cheer for us and never put us down. They always have our backs, win, lose or draw."

Senior guard Corey Butler said he was taken aback as well.

"That was pretty trifling. That may be the way they do it in Kentucky. I'm not from Kentucky, so I don't know how that works," Butler said. "Georgia fans, they don't boo their team. You may dog out the coach or what not but at least we don't sit there and boo the players where everyone will publically know that you're displeased with the team and their effort."

Considering Georgia's season to date, Butler joked that he wouldn't have blamed fans if they did. He is glad, however, that they've showed restraint.

"If that's the case we should have been booed off the court almost every game we've played," laughed Butler. "But hey, better them getting booed than us."

Terrance Woodbury said he didn't get too caught up in what was going on off the court.

The senior, who led Georgia with 30 points, said that one of Kentucky's biggest problems may have been that they overlooked the Bulldogs, who were blown out in Athens by a 68-45 score.

"I hope that's not the case, but they did beat us pretty bad last time," Woodbury said. "They might have thought this might not be much of a game. We felt like we didn't give them much of a challenge but we wanted to at least go out and give them a fight and not give up the first 10 minutes of the game."

For Georgia, the win over Kentucky was the program's first in Lexington since 2004 and first for Butler and Woodbury who will play their final home game Saturday (2 p.m.) in the regular-season finale against South Carolina.

But as big as the victory was, Butler winked there's still one that stand out over what was their first road win of the year.

"Beating Florida tops anything, anywhere in the word, but this one felt good, too," Butler said. "It was just a great night."



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