November 20, 2009

Dawgs hope to start anew on the road

One of the things Mark Fox has tried to do since taking over the Georgia basketball program is get his players to forget about anything negative that might have happened in the past.

That includes the Bulldogs' extreme lack of success on the road.

Last year, Georgia defeated Kentucky at Rupp Arena 90-85 on March 4 for its only road victory of the entire season.

Saturday night in Birmingham, the Bulldogs (1-1) will see if they can reverse that trend when they travel to Birmingham to take on UAB (3-1).

Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m.

"It's the same game, home or away," said Fox, whose Nevada teams won 69 percent of their road contests. "It's about defending, rebounding and executing. But it will be interesting to see how these guys respond in a different environment around the floor."

Coming off a 60-57 loss to Wofford, Fox is hoping to see his team carry over its second-half performance against Terriers, who held on to beat the Bulldogs after Dustin Ware missed the second of two free throw attempts with six seconds left in the game.

There were some bright spots.

Junior forward Chris Barnes made his first career start and set a career-high in rebounding with 11.

"Chris has been our most consistent performer in practice and is really rebounding the ball well," Fox said. "He's playing at a very high level. I've been very pleased with the effort he's given."

Unfortunately, as Fox warned before the year ever tipped off, it's going to be a season full of growing pains for his young Bulldog squad as he continues looking for the right combinations to put on the floor.

"We expect all our guys to be complete players," Fox said. "Every player should be able to pass and catch it, finish plays offensively," Fox said. "But obviously, one of his (Barnes) strengths is rebounding the basketball and we need to be able to build around that."

UAB enters the contest at Georgia game with a 3-1 overall record, following its 85-62 win over Jacksonville State last Tuesday night. Junior guards Elijah Milsap (18 points and 11 boards) and Aaron Johnson career-high 17 points) led five Blazers in double-figures en route to the win.

Millsap leads UAB in scoring (17.0 ppg), rebounding (8.3 rpg) and steals (2.0 spg) entering Saturday's game. The Louisiana-Lafayette transfer has led the Blazers in either scoring or rebounding in a contest in three of their four games this season.

Senior Howard Crawford is the only other Blazer to average double figures, collecting 13.3 points per contest, while Johnson adds 8.8 points and a team-best 3.0 assists per game.

As a team, the Blazers are shooting 43.4 percent from the floor and 38.1 percent from beyond the arc on the year. UAB also boasts a 5.0 advantage on the boards (35.8-31.8).

"They're a talented team," Bulldog junior Jeremy Price said. "They're going to be a good test."

NOTES:Saturday's game will be televised on CSS. … Price is the leading career scorer among all current Bulldogs with 445 points (6.8 ppg). It seems inevitable, however, that sophomore Trey Thompkins will soon pass him. Playing just his 31st collegiate game tonight, the Lithonia native should score his 400th career point against UAB. ... Today marks the 6th time this decade that Georgia's basketball and football teams will have played simultaneously... Thompkins' 16 rebounds on Tuesday against Wofford were the most by a Georgia player in almost eight years, going back to a 16-board effort by Chris Daniels vs. South Alabama on Dec. 15, 2001...When Thompkins and Barnes each had double-figure rebounds against New Orleans, it was the first time since February of 2008 that two Bulldogs achieved that goal.

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