If Georgia is going to wins its first road game of the year Saturday afternoon in Baton Rouge, it's going to have to come at the expense of a man Mark Fox considers family - LSU coach Trent Johnson.
Fox was Johnson's Associate Head Coach for four years at Nevada (2000-2004) before succeeding him at the helm of the successful Wolfpack program. Prior to their stint together at the Reno school, Johnson and Fox coached together at Washington for one season (1992).
"He's family to me. He's not just a friend, he's family," Fox said Friday. "I watched his kids grow up and he's watched mine, so this is something I'm not looking forward to. To be quite honest with you, I would not be here today without him. We have just become extremely close."
To make Saturday's game (5 p.m., SEC Network) even more intriguing for Fox, his Bulldogs (13-15, 5-10) have a chance to clinch the fifth seed from the East with a victory over the struggling Tigers (10-19, 1-14).
Georgia needs a win by Vanderbilt over South Carolina Saturday in Nashville to make that happen. If the Gamecocks win, South Carolina will be the No. 5 seed based on the SEC's tiebreaker rules.
"That would be very important," Fox said. "Given that everyone voted us to finish in last place we've got a chance to prove everyone wrong."
Fox added it would also be nice to get that first SEC road victory under his belt, but ultimately that it likely would have little bearing on the team's performance in next week's SEC Tournament behind held in Nashville.
"The tournament is a new season, so I don't know if there's a real connection between the two," Fox said. "The tournament is a new season and a new beginning for all of us but we still want to finish the regular season as best we can then gear up for a new season, if you will."
While he hopes to finish fifth, Fox said he won't get caught up in the matchups a fifth or sixth seed might bring.
"We try to win every game we can. The seeding part will take care of itself," he said. "I'm not going to try and set up who we play. We're not going to lay down to we don't have to play certain teams. We're going to try and win every game possible, and if that puts us in position to play Kentucky or somebody else the first round, so be it. We're going to try and win as many as we can."
The Bulldogs would seem to have their best opportunity of ending their season-long road woes today at the Pete Maravich Center.
LSU has struggled all season, comes in dead last in the SEC West with just one conference win. It hasn't been fun from a Tiger perspective, but Fox said Johnson saw it coming.
"We were together before he coached at LSU, probably 20 months ago and he knew his second season was going to be a difficult one," Fox said. "He said before he coached a game that he knew his second season would be a tough year. I empathize with him."
Georgia at LSU
WHERE: Pete Maravich Center
WHEN: Saturday, 5 p.m.
RECORDS: Georgia 13-15, 5-10; LSU 10-19, 1-4
TV: SEC Network
RADIO: Georgia Bulldog Radio Network
NEXT GAME: Wednesday, SEC Tournament in Nashville.
NOTES: Georgia began the week tied with South Caro¬lina for fifth place in the Eastern Division. It marked the first time since the end of the 2007 season that Georgia hasn't held sixth place in the standings by itself.
With at least two games left, point guard Dustin Ware needs just three assists to reach 100 for the season. That would put him in some rarified air among UGA hoops alumni. Rashad Wright (2000-04) and Litterial Green (1989-92) are thus far the only players in school history to have handed out 100 assists in each of their first two seasons. Wright is the Bulldogs' career assist leader with 493; Green is 3rd on that list.
A couple of notes about the Georgia schedule: The aggregate W/L record of the 14 teams that have beaten the Bulldogs this season is 273-126 (.684). Nine of those teams have already won 20 games. Just two of those teams (Auburn, Arkansas) currently have a sub-.500 overall record. Four of Georgia's losses weren't decided until the game's final possession. Conversely, three of Georgia's 13 wins came down to the last pos¬session of the game.
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