Georgia coach Mark Fox isn't one to make promises but he can guarantee one thing about Tuesday night's home game against UNC-Asheville (7 p.m.) - all his players will have their shoes.
Apparently, that wasn't the case Saturday night at UAB.
"We didn't handle the trip very well. We had some guys that forgot their sneakers, and that kind of showed that we weren't mentally prepared to play on the road," Fox said. "That's something this team has to learn how to do. They'll learn from the experience and grow from it."
Point guard Dustin Ware just shook his head.
"Yeah, that was a little frustrating right there and I think that kind of led to a little of the slow start not being focused and that's something that we've really got to start addressing and start being ready to go," said Ware, whose teammates dropped a 72-56 decision to the host Blazers. "He (Coach Fox) was pretty upset as he should be, I was upset. Hey, we came down here to win, nothing else, and forgetting your sneakers, obviously your mind isn't where it needs to be."
Georgia's slow start proved that.
Eight turnovers in the first seven minutes helped doom the Bulldogs (1-2), who despite the bad start were eventually able to make the game relatively competitive.
Ware, for just the third time of his career, led Georgia in scoring with 17 points. Travis Leslie had a team-high (and career-best) nine rebounds to help make up for Trey Thompkins who struggled throughout and finished with four points and four boards.
"We got it (the shoes) resolved; got it taken care of," Ware said. "We didn't get the win because we came out flat, but we're looking forward to tomorrow and hope we get a strong home performance."
Fox believes the shoe incident taught his team a lesson.
"It's about the responsibility. They have to have the right mental approach. It's a learned behavior," Fox said. "There's a lot o things we'll have to teach this group and you know, it's just one of those things we'll have to address. They're young, very young and one of those growing pains."
But Fox insisted it could have been worse.
Had this incident occurred later in the season, there might have been greater need for worry.
"If it was the sixth or seventh trip we might have a greater concern," Fox said. "But it was an indication that we probably weren't quite ready to play a good team on the road - mentally."
NOTES: This will be the first meeting between the Bulldogs and Bulldogs since the 1988-89 season. The game is also a homecoming for Asheville head coach Eddie Biedenbach. He served as an assistant coach for Hugh Durham from 1981 through 1989 and helped the Dog program go to the Final Four in 1983. The game with Georgia is Asheville's second against SEC teams in a 13-day span. Asheville played at Tennessee last Tuesday and fell 124-49.
"We have another big challenge in front of us at Georgia," said Biedenbach. "I know they've started out a little slow but Mark Fox (Georgia's new head coach) is an excellent coach who will have his team prepared to play. We've got to play better in all phases of the game. We're making some small strides, but we need to get better. The game on Tuesday will bring back some memories.I had some great years there and had a chance to coach some good teams. I still know a few people in Athens, so I'm looking forward to the game."
• Asheville was picked to finish in 2nd in the Big South Conference's preseason poll for the 2009-10 season
it is the Bulldogs' highest placement in the preseason poll since being tabbed the favorite in 2002-03
Senior guard Sean Smith moved into fifth place on Asheville's all-time career list for three-pointers made on Saturday as he knocked down two treys on Saturday and now has 134 in his career, moving past Darryl Sanders (132)
sophomore guard Matt Dickey scored a career-high 26 points against Campbell on Saturday
UNCA has used three different starting line-ups this season
Asheville's last two opponents - Tennessee and Campbell - both shot 59 percent from the field
Georgia leads the all-time series 3-0
Asheville's last win against a SEC team came on Jan. 5, 2008 at South Carolina, 61-58.
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