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Fans wonder: Was loss to Gamecocks a hiccup, or were Dawgs exposed?

Fans wonder: Was loss to Gamecocks a hiccup, or were Dawgs exposed?

Fans wonder: Was loss to Gamecocks a hiccup, or were Dawgs exposed?

Fans wonder: Was loss to Gamecocks a hiccup, or were Dawgs exposed?

There are two ways for Dawgs fans to look at Georgia's shocking upset loss to South Carolina Saturday in Athens.

On the one hand, rarely in the SEC can a team turn the ball over four times, as Georgia did, and come out on the winning end even against a midlevel opponent like the Gamecocks.

Add to that uphill battle the doomsday scenario that two of Georgia's key points producers, quarterback Jake Fromm and placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship, had possibly the worst games they've ever played, and you had a perfect storm bearing down on the Bulldogs just in time for Sanford Stadium's 90 th birthday.


Fans wonder: Was loss to Gamecocks a hiccup, or were Dawgs exposed?

Fromm finished the day with three interceptions, a fumbled snap and also was sacked three times after only being sacked once in the first five games. Only one of the three picks clearly was Fromm's fault, but, even when his passes weren't being caught by South Carolina's Israel Mukuamu, Fromm frequently was off-target, throwing just a bit high or a bit behind his receivers. The nearly perfect pass he threw to Demetris Robertson late in the fourth quarter (a play that wouldn't even have happened had not the Cocks been called for defensive holding on that series) was the exception rather than the rule.

And Mr. Automatic, Blankenship, finally proved to be human, having one kick blocked and missing the key field goal attempt in the second overtime, after previously being perfect on the season.

What are the odds of both Fromm and Blankenship having the Game From Hell on the same day?

Add in that the injuries are mounting, and Georgia's most reliable possession receiver, transfer Lawrence Cager, had to leave Saturday's game with continuing shoulder problems, and it's pretty amazing that the Dawgs still had a chance to win this game in the second overtime.

Some Georgia fans are taking solace in the fact that just about everything that could go wrong for the Dawgs Saturday did indeed go wrong. As more than one said to me in the wake of Saturday's demoralizing upset, Kirby Smart's teams usually have one game a year where they stink, and this was it.

The Dawgs still control their destiny, these folks noted; they just no longer have any margin of error.

On the other hand, the growing glass-half-empty faction of Bulldog Nation (some might call them the more realistic fans in light of what we've seen so far this season) looked at Saturday's upset this way: A 2-3 Gamecocks team, a three-touchdown underdog, came to town playing with their second-team quarterback, who went down midway through the game and was replaced by the third-stringer, and they still triumphed over the Dawgs, despite being shut out in the second half of regulation, and trying to give the game away in overtime.


Fans wonder: Was loss to Gamecocks a hiccup, or were Dawgs exposed?

On the Georgia side, there was plenty of blame to go around Saturday, and not just Fromm and Blankenship's off days. Georgia's defense certainly had its bad moments Saturday including the seemingly obligatory long touchdown pass that the Dawgs' patchwork secondary seems to give up with alarming regularity but overall it played well enough to win the game. After halftime, South Carolina didn't score at all until a field goal in the second overtime.

No, most of the onus for the loss is born by the offense and the coaching staff. The offensive line continued to show they were overrated in the preseason, allowing South Carolina to tamp down Georgia's running game while also leaving Fromm under pressure on key passing plays.

As Smart said after the game, " Everybody likes to talk about our offensive line being a dominating offensive line. I'd love to talk about that. But they've got to do it."

The underperformance of the OL is a key component in one of the growing storylines of this season: When slow-starting Georgia, which has trailed in the first half of three straight games, needs a yard or two, it too often just can't get them.

Also, the generally unimaginative play-calling was atrocious (a word used to describe it by almost everyone I heard from after Saturday's game), especially on second down, where the Dawgs alternated between short runs up the middle that everyone in the stadium saw coming, and incomplete passes that resulted from Georgia receivers' inability to get separation from their defenders.

Georgia's inability to establish its running game against the Gamecocks meant Fromm had to put the ball up in the air 51 times Saturday, and that played into a disturbing trend: Only five times in his career has Fromm thrown as many as 30 passes in a game, and Georgia has lost all of them. Live by the running attack, die by the contained running attack.

And, the offense was positively execrable in the two overtimes, with Georgia's first drive quickly ending with an interception, and the second one gaining not a yard before the missed kick.

On top of all that, Smart's in-game decisions and clock management still need a lot of improvement, particularly late in each half.

A decision that particularly stuck in the craw of many fans came at the end of regulation, when Smart hesitated to have Blankenship attempt a game-winning field goal that would have been 55 yards, and then saw an illegal shift on an ill-advised attempt at another offensive play add 5 more yards to the distance. Smart shied away from having Blankenship try a 60-yarder, despite the Georgia crowd chanting Hot Rod's name, and went for a Hail Mary (probably the lowest-percentage of all football plays) that never even got properly thrown.

As my brother Tim put it: "Unfortunately, Kirby makes game-winning or -losing decisions as a defensive coach. I can guarantee you [Florida's Dan] Mullen would have tried the kick."

My buddy Scott summed up the game like this: "Bottom line is their DBs outplayed our WRs, their D-line outplayed our vaunted O-line on the run, Fromm had a bad day and we were outcoached by a team with not even half our talent."

Back to Georgia's offense, for a moment. The signs have been there all season, as the Dawgs continually have struggled in short-yardage situations and rarely have had a serious downfield threat against top-level opposition. But, as my son Bill said, offensive coordinator James Coley seems to have no idea how to use this team's weapons, or how to attack a defense when runs up the middle aren't working.


Fans wonder: Was loss to Gamecocks a hiccup, or were Dawgs exposed?

Whether it's a failure of his own imagination, or he's simply slavishly trying to follow Smart's mandate that Georgia establish the run and wear down defenses by imposing their will, the result is the Dawgs are running an antiquated offense that pales in comparison to the wide-open attacks that other playoff contenders, like Alabama, Oklahoma and Ohio State, are operating.

You want to see how moving your offense into the 21 st century can impact a program that seems stuck at not-quite-good-enough? Just look at LSU this year!

As Scott noted, all those schools running high-scoring spread attacks used to subscribe to the power running game that Smart clings to so desperately. "How many years did [Alabama's Nick] Saban stick to that before he realized, with the rule changes, he needed an offense that could score quickly at any point? Hope it doesn't take Kirby that long."

That's for down the road, though. Right now, the task facing the Dawgs is shaking off this bad, bad day and trying to win out, including taking on a surging Florida team that gave LSU all it could handle for more than three quarters.

Georgia set out to make the College Football Playoff this season, but the Dawgs' only path to the playoff now is to win the SEC Championship. Anything less will find them again left out of the final four.

Were the 2019 Dawgs ever really a playoff contender, or have they been exposed as talented but underperforming pretenders? That remains to be seen; there's still a lot of football to be played. But, on Saturday against South Carolina, the Dawgs didn't look anything like a championship team.

The post Fans wonder: Was loss to Gamecocks a hiccup, or were Dawgs exposed? appeared first on DawgNation.

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Local News

  • The Athens-Clarke County Police Department is hoping the public can help identify two males suspected of breaking into multiple commercial businesses.  From the ACCPD:  ACCPD detectives are requesting the public’s assistance in identifying two male suspects responsible for committing a series of commercial burglaries in the area. Detectives believe the suspects use a pry bar on a rear door to gain access to the business. The suspects steal cash and other items. The burglaries have occurred in strip malls, small businesses, auto shops, and restaurants during the overnight hours. Detectives ask that anyone with information about the burglaries or the identity of the suspects to contact Det. Paul Davidson – (762) 400-7099 or Paul.Davidson@accgov.com. Additionally, a Crime Stopper's reward of up to $1,000 is being offered for information leading to the identity of the suspects. Call the Crime Stoppers Tip line at 706-705-4775. ACCPD detectives advise local businesses to ensure their alarm or surveillance system is working properly, keep exterior lights on during nighttime hours, secure all windows and doors, and remove cash from the premises. 
  • The Stephens County Sheriff’s Office was, at last report, still trying to track down an escaped inmate: 24 year-old Calvin McCoy (pictured above) jumped a fence and ran away from the jail in Toccoa.    A Maysville man is killed in a crash in Banks County: Steven Baxter was 66 years old. The single-vehicle accident happened south of Homer. The Georgia State Patrol is investigating.   A Hall County woman is arrested, accused of trying to use counterfeit cash to buy money orders at a store in Flowery Branch: Jennifer Raby is 33 years old, from Lula.
  • The Gainesville Department of Water Resources reports what it says is a “minor” sewage spill. The Georgia EPD has been notified.    From the Gainesville city government website…   The Gainesville Department of Water Resources confirmed today a minor sewer discharge in the area of Foothills Parkway. At approximately 5:05 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, the city was notified of a sewer discharge below 100 Foothills Parkway. City crews responded to the area where they found evidence of a discharge near an open manhole. Investigation into the matter revealed a private party had discovered and removed the blockage, allowing flow to return to normal. City crews learned the blockage was caused by an accumulation of grease, which had resulted in an overflow earlier in the day. It was determined an estimated 1,800 gallons of wastewater spilled within the area, with some residue entering Limestone Creek. City staff removed remnants of the discharge and applied lime to the area. Limestone Creek was assessed and no dead or stressed aquatic life was found. The area was posted as required by the state of Georgia. After cleanup, all conditions returned to normal. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division was notified Wednesday evening.
  • Unseasonably warm temperatures that came close to setting records in Athens and northeast Georgia are heading downward over the next several days.    From WSB TV… If you have enjoyed the spring-like weather, say goodbye to it for now. Winter is coming back to metro Atlanta. Here’s what to know:  Temperatures are 15 to 20 degrees colder than this time yesterday  Rain is in the forecast for part of your weekend  Next week, temperatures will dip down into the 20s Channel 2 meteorologist Brad Nitz says “winter is returning! Very cold air will move into the eastern US next week driving our local temperatures down into the 20s. Are you ready for a hard freeze?”
  • There is no technical definition of a tiny house, but the working understanding is a home that is 400 square feet or smaller. So what is a “Kinda Tiny” home? Well, it’s a little bit bigger, but not much. The home design that won Athens’ first “Kinda Tiny” housing competition was 794 square feet and designed by UGA student Jacqueline Menke, who is currently finishing up a Master of Landscape Architecture at the College of Environment and Design. The contest was the brainchild of Athens Area Habitat for Humanity and Georgia’s U.S. Green Building Council, and the home designed by Menke is currently under construction in Athens. The family selected by Habitat will move into the house this spring. The average size of a home in the United States has doubled since the 1960s to 2,600 square feet, but there is a movement underway to embrace smaller, more energy efficient homes. Menke’s house will be an example of a greener home, but it’s also meant to start a conversation in Athens about zoning codes, said Spencer Frye, executive director of Athens Area Habitat for Humanity. “You aren’t allowed to build an actual tiny home in Clarke County,” said Frye. “The minimum size for a single-family home is 600 square feet. These size restrictions were put in place in reaction to integration. I don’t like the idea of our community still adhering to these codes.” That’s how the idea to provide a real-life example of the building-code restrictions in Athens came to life. Frye and David Hyde from TimberBilt, an Athens-based sustainable construction company, devised the “Kinda Tiny” home competition, thinking it could act as a test run for green building standards and show the county what could be done with a small home. “We wanted to begin a discussion,” said Frye. “If we want to have a real dialogue around home size in Athens-Clarke County, I want us to work from zero and move up and not keep these antiquated codes on the books.” The winning design Menke entered the “Kinda Tiny” house contest as part of a class project in UGA professor Alfie Vick’s green building class. Because her major is landscape architecture, she had to do a lot of research in order to complete a home design, but she won, in part, because of how seamlessly her plan worked with the site’s landscape. “One of things that made her design stand out, after talking to some of the judges, is the fact that her building really specifically relates to the site. She took into account the topography, and I think it was her landscape architecture background that gave her the insight to how the building and the site would interact together,” said Vick.   Menke said she drove through the neighborhood and past the lot several times and got inspired by the surrounding homes as well as the lot where the home would eventually be built. She noticed all of the other homes were elevated and had ramps. She made hers accessible as well by using a zero entry, which means no steps or other hindrances to entrance. “I also thought of the sun’s path and provided afternoon shade with the roof slope, which plays into LEED standards. And I addressed the issue of the slope and runoff with my landscape plan,” Menke said. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Menke said LEED standards helped guide her design from the beginning. Menke’s design had the sustainability features that the Green Building Council wanted, and the practicality desired by Habitat. “Our homes are built by volunteers so they can’t be technically challenging,” said Frye. Vick said, “Jacqueline’s house was practical, cost effective, buildable and also a really good design.” The judges awarded two first place awards, one to Menke and one to a team of professional architects from Atlanta. The homeowners, who had already been selected by Habitat, got to choose the winner, and they picked Menke’s design. Frye is hopeful that this conversation starter could lead to more small homes being built in Athens. “Land cost is a major part of the issue here. If we can reduce the lot size and the size of the home, everything will be more affordable,” said Frye. “We’ve already had some great conversations with the mayor and commission about land use and building codes. This home has allowed us to explore both housing size issues and sustainability issues.”

Bulldog News

  • Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean understands there will be challenges for his young and undersized team this season. But Crean, a two-time Big Ten Coach of the Year and the architect of a Final Four team at Marquette, will not accept the lack of effort witnessed on Saturday night in Starkville. RELATED: How Mississippi State won battle of SEC Bulldogs The 91-59 defeat at Mississippi State was embarrassing on the scoreboard, but also to the most casual of UGA basketball fans that tuned in to the SEC Network on Saturday night. 'The most disheartening thing is we didn't compete on the glass, at all,' Crean said after the game on the Georgia Bulldogs Sports Network, referring to State's 40-22 rebounding advantage. 'Ray Hammonds is the third leading or fourth leading rebounder in the league, his effort was pitiful, as was everybody else's on the glass.,' Crean said. 'That's a toughness issue that we've got to continue to work through. 'I wouldn't even call that a maturity issue, I'd call that a toughness issue.' Freshman Anthony Edwards, who called out himself and his Georgia teammates for a lack of toughness in the second half of a home loss to Kentucky earlier this season, led Georgia with 19 points. But Edwards had his issues getting back on defense and communicating. 'The maturity issue is when it's not going well for us offensively, or we turn it over, we've got to get back on defense,' Crean said. 'So the two biggest keys to the game were rebounding and then transition defense, by far, as they are most games. 'Both of those we failed, and we failed miserably tonight.' Georgia, which scored it's only road SEC win under Crean last year at Florida. returns to action at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Kentucky. DawgNation Georgia Basketball Anthony Edwards puts the squeeze on Tennessee in blowout win Georgia falls in first SEC road game of season at Auburn Anthony Edwards says UGA didn't play tough enough vs. Kentucky Georgia basketball delivers signature Top 10 win at Memphs Freshman Anthony Edwards discloses injury, status Sahvir Wheeler on clutch game-winner, 'been there a ton of times' Tom Izzo on Georgia: 'That was an incredible comeback' Anthony Edwards lights up Michigan State for 37 in 93-85 loss Rayshaun Hammonds wrecks Georgia Tech Anthony Edwards draws standing ovation in opener Georgia freshman already making basketball history The post Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean: Bulldogs' rebounding effort pitiful,' lacking toughness appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia basketball is going to have to grow up in a hurry if it has any chance of becoming an NCAA tournament team this season. Coach Tom Crean's young squad came apart on the road at Mississippi State on Saturday night, falling 91-59 in a battle of SEC Bulldogs. Crean's concerns about Mississippi State's size and rebounding prowess became a reality. The maroon-and-white clad Bulldogs entered the night as the SEC's top rebounding team. They proceeded to show why, posting a commanding 40-22 advantage on the glass over UGA. 48 of State's 91 points were scored in the paint. Georgia dropped to 11-6 overall and 1-3 in the SEC with the loss, while Coach Ben Howland's team improved to 11-6 and 2-3 in league games. UGA freshman Anthony Edwards got off to a rough start at the so-called 'Hump.' Edwards was held to 3 points in the first half and made only 1 of his first 9 shots. Edwards finished with 19 points on 5-of-16 shooting, including 1-of-8 marksmanship beyond the 3-point line. Georgia, coming off an 80-63 home win over Tennessee, kept things close throughout much of the first half in Starkville. Freshman Toumani Camera scored all 10 of his points in the opening half, including a dunk that made it 32-28. But Mississippi State closed the first half on a 10-3 run to take a 42-31 lead to intermission. Georgia couldn't get any closer than 11 points the remainder of the game. Junior Rayshaun Hammonds, UGA's top interior threat, scored 8 of his 10 points and grabbed 3 of his 4 rebounds in the first half. Hammonds scored just one basket on 1-of-6 shooting and grabbed just one rebound in the 15 minutes he played in the second half. The home team went on a 17-3 run late in the game, stretching the lead out to 30 points with four minutes left. UGA point guard Sahvir Wheeler, who suffered an ankle injury last Wednesday, started and played 21 minutes. Wheeler had 2 points on 1-of-2 shooting, and 1 assist. The Bulldogs return to action at 7 p.m. at Kentucky on Tuesday. DawgNation Georgia Basketball Anthony Edwards puts the squeeze on Tennessee in blowout win Georgia falls in first SEC road game of season at Auburn Anthony Edwards says UGA didn't play tough enough vs. Kentucky Georgia basketball delivers signature Top 10 win at Memphs Freshman Anthony Edwards discloses injury, status Sahvir Wheeler on clutch game-winner, 'been there a ton of times' Tom Izzo on Georgia: 'That was an incredible comeback' Anthony Edwards lights up Michigan State for 37 in 93-85 loss Rayshaun Hammonds wrecks Georgia Tech Anthony Edwards draws standing ovation in opener Georgia freshman already making basketball history The post Mississippi State blasts Georgia in battle of SEC Bulldogs, Anthony Edwards struggles appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken has yet to call his first play, but it's safe to say the 53-year-old already knows he's walking into a better situation than a year ago. RELATED: Todd Monken a Statement hire' by Kirby Smart Monken's differences on the Cleveland Browns' staff with first-year coach Freddie Kitchens were well-documented from the onset. Many close to Kitchens have said Monken was not even the head coach's choice for the job. It's no wonder Monken was quoted as referring the Cleveland franchise a 'total mess.' It was an accurate description. Receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry were a handful. The Myles Garrett helmet swing incidentreached epic proportion. Georgia football is anything but a total mess. Monken arrives in Athens knowing he was Kirby Smart's top choice. Smart hasn't announced it, but it's a good bet Monken will assume the playcalling duties. It's something Monken has said before is important to him. RELATED: Why Todd Monken is a proven OC, and the Smart choice The best-case scenario for Georgia and Monken next season is a national championship. At the very least, a fourth-straight trip to the SEC Championship Game. The Georgia defense is that good. Nine of 11 Sugar Bowl starters return. It was a unit that led the nation in scoring defense and run defense, and finished third in the country in total defense and 8h in pass efficiency defense. Smart will be looking for an offense that makes more explosive plays while maintaining a reliable run game. But the bottom line for Smart was and is offensive efficiency and consistency. If Monken's offense can score 24 points in each game next season, it's hard to project the Bulldogs losing a game. That said, Georgia has its share of challenges on offense. Chief among those hurdles are growing an inexperienced receiving corps, and developing and scheming for a new quarterback. Georgia rising sophomore George Pickens is the key to the receiving corps. He's coming off a Sugar Bowl MVP performance, making 12 catches for 175 yards and a touchdown in the Bulldogs' 26-14 win over Baylor. Pickens, however, was hit with two suspensions his freshman campaign. The first involved an unspecified violation of team rules. The second came by NCAA rule after his well-publicized tangle at Georgia Tech. RELATED: Pickens apologizes to team for costly SEC title game suspension Pickens' growth and development as a person and potential leader will factor into Monken's future game plans where skill position players are concerned. Georgia has other receiver options returning and promising incoming freshmen. But none appear to have the game-changing dynamic Pickens presents. Georgia is also green in the backfield. Zamir White enters spring drills battling Kenny McIntosh for first-team reps. Rising junior James Cook and incoming freshman Kendall Milton have breakout talent. To this point, none of the backs have shown the dynamic game-breaking ability departing back D'Andre Swift flashed his first two seasons. It doesn't mean they won't, but expectations should be kept in check, Swift was special. The ultimate challenge, however, is at quarterback. Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman is considered the favorite to win the job in spring drills. Newman is coming to Georgia to throw more, and the Bulldogs are excited to have a quarterback who can run and scramble effectively. The two sides will meet somewhere in the middle, with Newman gaining experience in an offense that can transition into the NFL. Georgia also has redshirt junior Stetson Bennett, redshirt freshman D'Wan Mathis and incoming freshman Carson Beck in the quarterback room this spring. The final piece for Monken's success is the fit in the offensive meeting room, and the trust and chemistry he builds with Smart. Unlike Cleveland, Monken will be handed the keys, and he'll be surrounded by an all-star staff that includesJames Coley, Matt Luke and run game coordinator Dell McGee. Georgia football, unlike the NFL's Cleveland Browns, doesn't mess around. Georgia football offseason Kirby Smart lands Air Raid guru Todd Monken LSU DC Dave Aranda reveals UGA offensive game plan Mark Richt gives scout on FSU grad-transfer Tre Mckitty UGA provides status update on James Coley Numbers game: Comparing Jamie Newman to Jake Fromm Bulldogs' safety headed for Ole Miss RELATED: Cade Mays makes stunning Rocky Top Hop Projected starting Georgia lineman returning from injury PODCAST: Brandon Adams discusses Todd Monken addition The post New Georgia OC Todd Monken trades total mess' for championship quest appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Former Georgia football safety Otis Reese announced on Twitter that he's headed for Ole Miss after entering his name in the NCAA transfer portal two weeks ago. Reese, a 2018 signee, has three years of eligibility remaining. He would have to sit out a season unless granted an NCAA waiver. Reese a 6-foot-3, 210-pounder from Leesburg, Ga., saw action in all 14 games for the No. 4-ranked Bulldogs last season. Most all of Reese's opportunities were on special teams, however, as he finished with just three tackles. It has been a busy offseason of comings and goings by way of transfer for the Bulldogs. Georgia has scored big additions with Wake Forest QB graduate transfer Jamie Newman and Florida State TE grad transfer Tre' Mckitty. Cade Mays has been the biggest departure, shunning a starting spot with the Bulldogs' championship contender to return to his hometown of Knoxville where his father player. RELATED: Cade Mays makes stunning Rocky Top Hop Reese's situation is clearly about playing time and opportunity. Georgia's elite defense was stacked in the secondary last season with Thorpe Award finalist J.R. Reed at one safety position, and rising star Richard LeCounte at the other. Freshman safety Lewis Cine, like Reese a top 100 prospect in high school, won the starting job for the Sugar Bowl when Reed pulled out of bowl preparation with a foot injury. WATCH: Lewis Cine knows his time is coming, putting in the hard work Cine had six tackles in the 26-14 win over Baylor and appeared to be the perfect partner to the playmaking LeCounte. Christopher Smith was also competing for reps at safety during bowl prep New Orleans. Rising sophomore Tyrique Stevenson figures to fit into the mix moving forward. Reese entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal after LeCounte made it public that he planned on returning to the Bulldogs. Reese was ranked the No. 87 player in the nation by the 247Sports composite coming out of Lee County High School. He chose UGA over Alabama, Clemson, LSU and Auburn, among others, per his recruiting profile. Georgia is expected to start offseason conditioning next week with spring drills likely to begin after UGA's spring break. The Bulldogs open next season playing Virginia in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Monday Sept. 7. Even in my darkest times, I have always believed, the light would shine & it's TIME!!! @OleMissFB , @Lane_Kiffin , @CoachCPartridge COMMITTED pic.twitter.com/NkFdvkKxPo O Dog.. (@otisreese13) January 18, 2020 The post Former Georgia football safety Otis Reese announces he's headed for Ole Miss appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia coach Tom Crean always talks to his team about 'taking what the game gives you,' but on Saturday night at Mississippi State, UGA might need a different approach. Indeed, Crean's young and undersized team will have to take even when the game isn't giving them any breaks or advantages. Coach Ben Howland's maroon-clad Bulldogs lead the SEC in rebounding margin, the very area Crean's vertically challenged canines are most often challenged to measure up. 'I mean, every game we come in here talking about how important the rebounding is and now we're playing the league leader,' said Georgia coach Tom Crean, who has just two players 6-foot-9 or taller. 'That part of it is tough.' Mississippi State features two starters who are even taller, center Abdul Ado (6-11, 255) and power forward Reggie Perry (6-10, 250). The teams tip off at 8:30 p.m. (TV: SEC Network) at the so-called 'Hump.' Officially known as Humphrey Coliseum, Mississippi State's arena which some say resembles a cake from the outside has a smaller, intimate setting similar to Stegeman Coliseum with a capacity of 10,575. Georgia brings an 11-5 overall mark and 1-2 SEC record into the action. Mississippi State is 10-6 and 1-3 in league play. UGA is looking for what would be its first consecutive league wins under Crean, who is now in his second season. Georgia is also looking to play its way into NCAA tournament contention, and it will likely take a .500 record in league play or better for that to happen. It's Crean's first trip to Starkville, and he may be forced to make it without the playing services of Sahvir Wheeler, who fellow freshman Anthony Edwards refers to as 'the heart of the team.' Wheeler suffered an ankle injury in the second half of Georgia's resounding 80-63 blowout win over Tennessee. Crean made it clear on Friday that Wheeler is questionable, having just managed to walk through the Thursday workout. 'You just have to deal with it, and if he can't it is what it is,' Crean said. 'You just go. Right? That's why you try to develop and try to get multi-dimensional versatile guys. Obviously he's a huge factor.' If Wheeler is out, Georgia will rely more heavily on senior graduate transfer Donnell Gresham along with Edwards at the point. Edwards, named a second-team, mid-season All-American by the Sporting News earlier this week, is averaging 19.1 points per game this season, second in the SEC. Georgia, with its size deficiency, will also need another signature performance from 6-9, 245-pound junior Rayshaun Hammonds. Hammonds is averaging 14.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, and he's coming off a 21-point, 5-rebound in the win over the Vols. Mississippi State represents UGA's fifth-straight game against teams that played in the NCAA tournament last season. The Bulldogs are 2-2 in the past four, winning on the road against then-No. 9 Memphis 65-62 on Jan. 4 and hammering Tennessee in Athens on Wednesday night. The losses were to No. 13 Kentucky (78-69) and then-No. 5 Auburn (82-60). Last year's home loss to Mississippi State featured one of the most bizarre endings in Stegeman Coliseum history. WATCH: Stuffed bulldog triggers decisive technical foul in UGA home loss A small stuffed bulldog toy was thrown on the court in the final moments, resulting in a technical foul that helps swing the game State's way, 68-67. Georgia had rallied from 17 down to tie the game at 67-67. DawgNation Georgia Basketball Anthony Edwards puts the squeeze on Tennessee in blowout win Georgia falls in first SEC road game of season at Auburn Anthony Edwards says UGA didn't play tough enough vs. Kentucky Georgia basketball delivers signature Top 10 win at Memphs Freshman Anthony Edwards discloses injury, status Sahvir Wheeler on clutch game-winner, 'been there a ton of times' Tom Izzo on Georgia: 'That was an incredible comeback' Anthony Edwards lights up Michigan State for 37 in 93-85 loss Rayshaun Hammonds wrecks Georgia Tech Anthony Edwards draws standing ovation in opener Georgia freshman already making basketball history The post Georgia basketball looks to get over the hump at Mississippi State appeared first on DawgNation.