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Georgia coach Kirby Smart now dealing with toughest part of managing a top-tier program

Georgia coach Kirby Smart now dealing with toughest part of managing a top-tier program

Georgia coach Kirby Smart now dealing with toughest part of managing a top-tier program

Georgia coach Kirby Smart now dealing with toughest part of managing a top-tier program

Georgia football-Towers Take-Georgia coach Kirby Smart learning the other side of managing a top-tier football program-Georgia Bulldogs

ATHENS — Welcome to the big time, Georgia football fans.

Reporting for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution I called July 16, 2004 “Bloody Friday in UGA Athletics” in the news story I filed that day. Why? Because that was the day, many months after he’d been designated Vince Dooley’s successor as athletic director, that Damon Evans fired nearly every person in the Bulldogs’ senior athletic administration.

That is NOT what we witnessed on Jan. 4, 2019.

It might feel that way for the most fervent of Georgia football fans. What took place this Friday is not helpful to the Bulldogs’ bottom-line cause for the 2019 season, it is not necessarily a negative development. This is not good, hard-working people losing their jobs for the sake of change like we saw in 2004. It is, however, the price of doing business at the current altitude Georgia is flying.

At last count — and if you were following this Friday, you know what a flurry this was — we have six front-line players leaving the football program. In chronological order the Bulldogs on Friday lost quarterback Justin Fields (transferring to Ohio State), tight end Isaac Nauta (entering NFL draft), split end Riley Ridley (NFL), flanker/kick returner Mecole Hardman (NFL), tight end Luke Ford (transferring to Illinois) and running back Elijah Holyfield (NFL).

If you’re into recruiting, that’s 28 stars of talent leaving Georgia’s locker room. That’s a blow, folks, no matter who might be “the next man up.”

Head coach Kirby Smart put his best spin on it with the release of a statement early Friday evening.

“We wish the best to Mecole Hardman, Elijah Holyfield, Isaac Nauta and Riley Ridley as they pursue their careers at the next level,” Smart said through UGA Sports Communications. “All four of these juniors contributed significantly to our success during the last two seasons and we look forward to them making the best out of their shot at the NFL. As with all our players, we also will encourage them to complete their degrees to get prepared for the next chapter of their lives.”

The movement we witnessed Friday might not be limited to players. Don’t be surprised if we see some coaches leave is all over as well. Tennessee, which has gone well over a month now without filling its offensive coordinator vacancy, is said to be eying Georgia’s Jim Chaney. Chaney’s three-year contract is due to expire at the end of the academic year. He had to share coordinating duties with James Coley this past season, as well as move from coaching quarterbacks to tight ends, and I;m told still has property on a lake up in East Tennessee.

Also, Georgia clearly has one of the best offensive line coaches in the nation in Sam Pittman. With Alabama’s offensive line coach Brent Key recently leaving to join Geoff Collins at Georgia Tech, don’t be surprised if the Crimson Tide turns their eyes toward Pittman. No way that Georgia would give up Pittman without a vicious fight, but it’s awfully hard to out-compensate Bama.

All this activity at Georgia on Friday underscores two things: One, it shows how special it was what happened when”the Big Four” — Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy — decided to come back to play with the Bulldogs in 2017; and, two, what a tremendous job Nick Saban has done keeping Alabama atop college football’s loftiest peak for so long with players and coaches always coming and going.

There once was a time when transfers, draft early-entry, and coaching movement were a rarity. But such ingress and egress is increasingly commonplace, especially around successful programs. Everybody’s seeking their own slice of the pie, players included.

Can’t blame them for that. For years college football student-athletes were a trapped and exploited labor pool constricted by the NCAA’s archaic rules regarding amateurism and transfers. But as money has come pouring into the game from lucrative television contracts and coaches’ salaries continue to escalate at a breakneck pace, it has become increasingly hypocritical to tell the persons responsible for providing all the actual entertainment that they’re not permitted to go somewhere they believe might suit them better.

That goes double after that we witnessed last week. Manny Diaz abandoned his just-secured head coaching job at Temple to take a better one at Miami, and right after the early-signing period. That’s why all players need now is a reason enough to check one of the boxes on the NCAA’s transfer form and they’re good to go. Like it or not, Fields and Ford both were able to check a box.

As for the Georgia players with professional aspirations, who can fault them of that? There’s nothing more American than being able to seek a good wage doing what you do best. It comes with risks both ways, staying or going, and as Nauta so eloquently explained, nothing’s guaranteed.

But when the game you play can reap millions and the ability to play it comes with a limited shelf life, who’s to say these guys shouldn’t be leaving now or could have benefited later? And we can never be sure of what’s going on back home or in the classroom. Sometime needs and circumstances trump logic.

Some people in chatrooms Friday were calling it “The Fields Effect,” as if it was the unexpected reaction of some high-profile players to the newly-departed quarterback not getting a fair shot at Georgia. I don’t buy that.

Friday definitely was not a good day for Georgia as far as the football program’s selfish pursuits go. But players have selfish pursuits, too, and they don’t always run lockstep with those of the university or the head coach.

Yes, this whirlwind of postseason activity has come with a cost for Georgia. I’d say about one New Year’s Six bowl game so far. That said, I believe Smart has handled all the developments about as well as he could. I felt like he bent over backward — almost to a detrimental degree — to keep Fields happy and try to keep him in Athens. And, in the end, sending lots of underclassmen to the league is a positive thing for your program.

So you can bet Smart will be out there in the next couple of weeks trying to talk more 5-stars into coming to UGA to fulfill their NFL dreams. And this time next year, we can probably expect more of the same.

The post Georgia coach Kirby Smart now dealing with toughest part of managing a top-tier program appeared first on DawgNation.

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Local News

  •  Gov. Brian Kemp unveiled plans Wednesday to create a new state anti-gang task force and devote $69 million in one-time funds for school security grants, as he began to outline more specifics of his first-year agenda days after taking office. The Republican also promised to deliver an “historic and well-deserved” pay raise for Georgia’s public school teachers at his State of the State address on Thursday. Kemp said he would hike teacher pay by $5,000 during the campaign, but he’s likely to divvy up the raise over several years. His remarks came at the Georgia Chamber’s annual Eggs & Issues breakfast, the second in a series of events this week where Kemp will lay out many of his priorities. At the events, he has pledged to work across party lines after a divisive election that he narrowly won.  His school safety plan will include $30,000 for each of the state’s 2,294 public schools to use as they see fit for school security – such as hiring officers, paying for cameras or metal detectors or more data analysis. As another part of the plan, he said he would put a mental health counselor in all 343 state public high schools to “engage with struggling students and help provide the resources needed to prevent disruptive, aggressive and potentially violent behavior.”  “The classroom should be a safe haven for students - not a hunting ground for school shooters,” he said. And his anti-gang initiative will include $500,000 in initial funds to form a task force with a “highly qualified group of experienced law enforcement personnel” to work with district attorneys and law enforcement officials to target gang violence. Each of the initiatives were staples of his campaign for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams. It’s another reflection of how Georgia Republican leaders are promising to focus on pocketbook issues rather than fights over social divides that energize the GOP’s rural base, after stinging electoral setbacks in Atlanta’s dense suburbs. To reinforce that point, House Speaker David Ralston announced a new initiative – a House panel focused on arts and entertainment – that aims to grow Georgia’s film industry and other creative businesses. During the campaign, Kemp said he would pour a total of $90 million into school safety initiatives, with plans that also included financing a school safety division within the Georgia Department of Education.  It’s the latest in a series of efforts by Georgia Republicans to address safety initiatives after mass shootings at schools without delving into a debate over new gun control measures.  Case in point: House and Senate lawmakers last year allocated $16 million in school safety funding after the mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla. school left 17 people dead. A range of gun-related proposals, meanwhile, stalled in the Legislature.  The November election heightened the divide. Top Georgia Democrats bucked years of pro-gun positions last year to embrace new restrictions, such as a ban on assault rifles and waiting periods.  And leading Republicans, including Kemp and just about every other high-profile GOP candidate, pushed to aggressively expand where people can carry firearms.  Since his election, Kemp has said he would continue to champion Second Amendment rights. But he’s been notably non-committal about a plan he supported in the campaign to let people carry concealed firearms without a permit. Gang violence Kemp’s “stop and dismantle” program also played a central role in his run for governor. He first unveiled it in April as part of a broader push to emphasize crackdowns on crime and illegal immigration.  The plan would create a statewide Gang Strike Team to help local authorities combat the crime and give the state Attorney General more power to prosecute gang members.  Kemp would also pour an unspecified amount of state funding to improve a database created in 2010 to track gang members and launch a public awareness campaign on the dangers of gang-related crime.  The proposal dovetails with Kemp’s campaign-trail rhetoric, which echoed President Donald Trump’s focus on targeting MS-13 and other violent gangs as a linchpin of his criminal justice policy. 
  • First warmer then colder then...  Rinse and repeat the roller coaster ride. Dramatic temperature drop over the weekend as first of multiple Polar air masses come down from Canada this month and next. Coldest air of the season to date by Monday. In the transition another big snowstorm in the Midwest to New England. Could Atlanta see a few snow flakes? Yes not out of the question but I would not hold your breath. As of now at least, it looks like even if we did it would be brief and not last or matter with no accumulation outside of NE mountains and most of us won’t see any snow. The sharp change to sharply colder is the real story. As I’ve said repeatedly in past blogs since Fall, the prospect for snow or ice looks alive before we warm up in April. As in the rest of life, the meeting of cold and moisture is all about the timing. The pattern looks to turn ripe but we have to wait till we have an actual system to watch. 
  • There is an advisory from the Sheriff’s Office in Elberton: investigators say at least two Elbert County residents have been the victims of recent telephone scams. They say one victim wired and lost almost $4,000 after being told he’d won a sweepstakes. Another woman says she is out nearly $1,000 after getting a phone call from someone claiming to be her grandson, saying he needed money to get home from Mexico.  Elbert County Sheriff Melvin Andrews says anyone receiving such a call should report it to the Elbert County Sheriff’s Office at 706-283-2421 or the appropriate law enforcement agency in your community. 
  • Briana Hayes, a second-year health promotion student from Baxley, was crowned Miss University of Georgia 2019 at the annual scholarship competition held Jan. 12 in the UGA Fine Arts Auditorium. A 2017 graduate of Appling County High School, she is the daughter of James and Danita Hayes. Fourth runner-up in the competition was Katie Gamel, a second-year biology and psychology major from Douglasville; third runner-up was Deborah Stephens, a fourth-year music/vocal performance major from Hoschton. Irielle Duncan, a third-year biology and psychology major from Lawrenceville received second runner-up honors, and Karson Pennington, a third-year student from Augusta pursuing a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in political science/international affairs, was named first runner-up. The “Floreida Harrell Miss Congeniality Scholarship,” selected by the contestants, was awarded to Nidhi Patel, a third-year biology major from Brunswick. The “People’s Choice Award,” voted on by the audience, was given to Georgia House, a third-year psychology major from Calhoun. Hayes also received the award for “Best Interview.”   Hayes holds a number of leadership roles in the UGA community. She is a Student Government Association senator, a Presidential Leadership scholar and a member of the Dean William Tate Honor Society. An Honors student, Hayes volunteers in the after-school program at Thomas Lay Park in Athens. “Taking my first walk as Miss University of Georgia felt surreal.” Hayes said. “In that moment, I thought of where I came from. I grew up in Baxley, a small town in rural Georgia, and now in front of me was the opportunity to represent the flagship institution of the state. I am so grateful for the compassionate community I grew up in, and I am humbled to attend such an astounding university.” “During my reign, I look forward to expanding my platform, ‘Creating Believers,’ as I work to inspire today’s youth to find their purpose and give back to their communities,” she said. Hayes is scheduled to compete in the 75th Annual Miss Georgia Scholarship Competition in June in Columbus; the winner of that competition will represent Georgia in the 2020 Miss America Competition. The Miss America Organization, at the local, state and national levels, represents the largest private scholarship foundation for women in the United States. This year, scholarship assistance totaling more than $45 million was available to contestants at all three levels. The Miss America Organization, established in 1921, is a nonprofit civic corporation. The Miss UGA Scholarship Competition is a program of the Tate Student Center within UGA’s Division of Student Affairs.
  • Economists from the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business are in south Georgia today: they’re offering an economic forecast for Albany in a noon-hour luncheon at the Hilton Garden Inn in Albany. From the University of Georgia… The Economic Outlook series features a rotating lineup of experts from the Terry College of Business and Selig Center for Economic Growth. For more information on the 2018-19 speakers, please continue reading below. In addition, attendees at each location can expect to hear from a local business leader, sharing key insights for the local economy.

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS — Kentucky coach John Calipari raised eyebrows last spring when he said Georgia basketball head coach was one of the top three jobs in the SEC. First-year coach Tom Crean has yet to make that a reality. Crean’s Bulldogs are 9-7 overall and 1-3 in the SEC at what’s essentially the hallway point of the season. RELATED: Georgia basketball coach demands more maturity, toughness “Here’s what Tom is doing, he’s playing a different style, he’s spacing the court, he’s bringing people out, they are long and active and they offensive rebound the crap out of the ball, that’s what he’s got them doing,” Calipari said Tuesday night. “This game got away from them in the end, really the beginning of the second half, and then we kept it there. “ Like every game I’ve watched, they had their chances. At Auburn they had their chances to be right there and win the game, and that’s a hard place to play. So he’s doing a good job with this team.” Georgia has indeed competed. WATCH: Tom Crean says it comes down to hustle points at Auburn Crean’s system has provided an offensive liberation of sorts, with players enjoying more offensive freedom through the Bulldogs’ spacing. Florida is next up on the Bulldogs’ schedule, the Saturday noon game at Stegeman Coliseum already sold out. Georgia has impressed in wins over Oakland, Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt, and nearly pulled off an upset over then-ranked Arizona State. “It seems it’s just a matter of getting players who can shoot effectively from 3-point range, as UGA’s struggle from the perimeter has been real. Kentucky led just 35-31 on Tuesday night despite Georgia hitting just 2-of-13 from 3-point range in the first half of a 69-49 loss to the Wildcats. RELATED: Kentucky wins 12th straight over Georgia, overcomes sellout crowd The Bulldogs rank 287th in the nation out of 351 teams (and 12th of 14 teams in the SEC) in 3-point shooting accuracy (31.6 percent). The rise of 6-foot-11 sophomore forward Nicolas Claxton has been a highlight for the team, wit Claxton leading the SEC in rebounding (9.4 per game) and blocked shots (3.3) while leading UGA in assists (2.1 per game) and in scoring (12.6 points per game). “He’s a unique player, and all the tape I’ve watched, I like what Tommy is doing with him, pushing him a different places around the floor at times, at the rim, at times, at the top of the key, letting him shoot,” Calipari said. “He’s letting him grow and living with it, and   9 rebounds and 12 points (Tuesday night), that’s pretty good stuff.” Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari The post WATCH: John Calipari analyzes Georgia basketball, complimentary of Nicolas Claxton appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — While Georgia football doesn’t benefit immediately from Jalen Hurts’ decision to transfer from Alabama to Oklahoma, it only serves to help the Bulldogs in the long run. Hurts, as a graduate transfer, was eligible to play immediately anywhere he chose to go. Here are three ways Georgia benefits from is decision to play for the Sooners: RELATED: Chris Fowler explain’s ‘Pandora’s box’ of CFB transfer world 1. Hurts won’t be starting for a UGA scheduled opponent There’s no question Hurts was a much-coveted player during this offseason, offering leadership and championship game experience. Adding a player and a leader like Hurts might have been enough to get some programs over the hump. Tennessee, most notably, would have been a prime landing spot for Hurts. Vols coach Jeremy Pruitt   was said to have a good relationship with Hurts in Tuscaloosa. Tennessee isn’t on the Bulldogs’ level quite yet from a talent standpoint, but AD Phillip Fulmer has beefed up the Vols’ coaching staff and Hurts would have provided another immediate lift. RELATED: Vols fork out nearly $5 million for Georgia OC Jim Chaney  2. Alabama football weakens in 2019 with Hurts transfer There was a chance Hurts was going to decide to stay in Tuscaloosa and complete his legacy as a Tide legend. UGA fans can breathe a sigh of relief he chose another route. There’s no guarantee Alabama will reach the SEC Championship Game to face Georgia again, but it would be hard to bet against that happening. As big of an issue as it was for Georgia OLB D’Andre Walker to leave the SEC title game with the Bulldogs up 28-21, it still took a special performance from Hurts to exploit the loss of UGA’s sacks leader. Alabama, like Georgia, is stockpiled with talent. But it’s hard to imagine the Tide — or any other program this season — having a 1-2 punch like Hurts and Tagovailoa have proven to be the past two years. Indeed, Alabama’s QB depth was the only thing that stood between the Bulldogs and the 2017 College Football Playoff Championship as well as the 2018 SEC championship and a spot in the CFB Playoffs. 3. Georgia out of QB transfer spotlight for now The Justin Fields’ transfer story probably isn’t finished playing out in the national media yet — there’s still a controversial appeal for immediate eligibility to be filed (and likely won). But Hurts’ transfer talk will boost Oklahoma into the national transfer spotlight as it deals with the fallout of adding another player to its roster, one action triggering another. New College Football transfer destinations: -Brandon Wimbush: UCF -Tate Martell: Miami -Jalen Hurts: Oklahoma -Urban Meyer: Retirement* -SEC fans: Clemson -Florida State fans: 2013 -Alabama fans: 1st grade math * = “Retirement” is short for “USC, when the job comes open” — NOTSportsCenter (@NOTSportsCenter) January 16, 2019 Already, we’ve seen controversy at Ohio State where incumbent Tate Martell has announced his intention to transfer, and now Martell’s grounds for immediate eligibility will be scrutinized and measured against those in other programs. Georgia’s quarterback situation is suddenly quiet — still competitive, but in a more comfortable manner. Jake Fromm is the clear No. 1, and incoming No. 2 Dwan Mathis is eager to learn from Fromm to become the most prepared back-up quarterback he can be heading into the 2019 season. Georgia coach Kirby Smart also has the luxury of having depth at the position in 2019. The Bulldogs added former UGA walk-on and junior college transfer Stetson Bennett for peace of mind. Part of the issue with the Fromm-Fields situation last season was the Bulldogs had no other scholarship quarterbacks.           The post 3 ways Jalen Hurts’ transfer to Oklahoma helps Georgia football appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS, Ga. — Tom Crean’s postgame press conferences typically go straight to the point, and Tuesday night’s was no different. What happened in the 69-49 loss to No. 12-ranked Kentucky? “They are really good, we missed a lot of open shots, they’ll get better, we’ll get better, but the bottom line is outside of basketball-wise,   our maturity, mental toughness has got to pick up when things are not going well for us,’ Crean said. RELATED: Georgia can’t stop Kentucky despite sellout crowd and hot start “I know we don’t have a lot of guys that have been through a lot of   battles where they were the guy expected to carry the team the team, but that’s not an excuse, now we have to step it up and keep going.” Georgia is 0-6 this season when tied or trailing at the half, and in embarrassing losses to Tennessee (96-50) and now the Wildcats, the Bulldogs’ didn’t show much fight on defense or in 50-50 scrambles. Crean, with the Bulldogs (9-7, 1-3) SEC next facing Florida at noon on Saturday, sounds like a man on the verge of making changes. “It would-be different if I was hammering guys and pulling   guys out left and right because we’re missing shots, but I’m not doing that, but I’m going to have to start doing it if we’re not going to guard better on the defensive end,” Crean said. “And I’m going to have to make an adjustment at the start of the second half. “I don’t want to say we’re listless, but we’re not nearly where we need to be aggressiveness-wise. I’m going to deep dive into that to see if we need to make changes at the start of the second halves.” Kentucky used a 9-0 run to open the second half on Tuesday and blow open what had been a contested game through the first half, The Wildcats held a slim 35-31 lead at intermission despite UGA making only 2-of-13 shots in the first half. Georgia senior point guard William “Turtle” Jackson, who was 1-of-8 shooting and 0-for-5 from 3-point range, said the team would be ready to go back to work at practice on Thursday. He didn’t say anything about getting extra shots on his own on Wednesday, the team’s off-day. More time in the gym shooting is often what separates good teams from great teams, and the numbers suggest it’s something the Bulldogs clearly more of to be competitive in the SEC. Georgia was 326 of 351 in 3-point shooting last season and entered Tuesday night 238th of 351 teams. RELATED: Tom Crean has plan for Georgia basketball guard issues “Our four main guards were (2 of 19) from the three,” Crean said. “We let it affect our transition defense, a couple of turnovers that make no sense …. “ Georgia also committed more turnovers (14) than assists (12), giving UK a 14-6 edge on points off turnovers. “There were a couple of times we didn’t look at our target, and they shot the gap,” Crean said, explaining some otherwise puzzling give-aways. “We had a couple seniors do that, and it’s a joke when you get in your senior year at Georgia, you can’t make those passes.” Kentucky also outscored Georgia 40-22 in the paint, even after senior center Derek Ogbeide opened the game with three dunks in the opening five minutes. Ogbeide didn’t score after that, finishing with as many turnovers (3) as rebounds (3). What happened to Ogbeide, Crean was asked. “We tried to make some plays that weren’t there, he didn’t roll quite as hard a couple times as he could have, we got him the ball in the post and he was tentative with it,” Crean said. “They clamped down a bit, that was part of it,” he said. “But when we throw Derek the ball, he needs to score or get fouled, he doesn’t need to sit there and have like an hourglass, where time is wasting. I tell him that every day, we’re throwing you the ball for a reason, don’t stand there and wait, cut, I mean, rip it open, drive it, go score, or that’s when the length starts to take over or he rushes. “We work on those things, he’s got to get better, and I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t think that he could.” Crean said he’s going to continue to emphasize the positives, and he said he has been happy with how hard his team practices and their focus coming into games. Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean The post WATCH Tom Crean: Georgia basketball ‘maturity, mental toughness has got to pick up’ appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Not quite ready for primetime. That’s all you can say about Georgia Bulldogs at the moment. The players want it. The fans want it. Tom Crean wants it in the worst way. They just don’t have the horses to run with the likes of Kentucky just yet. Or Tennessee. Or Auburn. Or Arizona State. That’s not meant to be a negative take on Tuesday night’s game between the Bulldogs and No. 12 Kentucky. On the contrary. Despite the 69-49 loss, Georgia’s really not that far away from being ready for primetime. All they’re missing at the moment is a guard or two. A point guard in particular. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the point guard they needed was playing for the opponent Tuesday. Ashton Hagans was a longtime UGA commitment under former Georgia coach Mark Fox. He backed out of that decision after Mark Fox was fired at the end of last season and Crean was unable to convince Hagans he should come anyway. For the record, Kentucky John Calipari said before Tuesday’s game he didn’t “flip” Hagans. “The family contacted us,” Calipari insisted. Doesn’t matter. Hagans was fair game, a casualty of Georgia’s decision to part with Fox. The Georgia students knew this, and they booed Hagans heartily every time he touched the ball and chanted “traitor, traitor, traitor!” every time Hagans went to the foul line. The problem was they were booing and chanting a lot, because Hagans had the ball in hands a lot. And when he did, good things were usually happening with it. Hagans was clearly motivated and might have been forcing the issue a bit early as he started off 1-of-7 shooting. But he eventually settled down and really made the Bulldogs feel his present in the second half. He made a 3 and two fast-break layups in the first four minutes to push the Wildcats out to a sudden 13-point lead in what had been until then a tight game. And he kept it up from there. Hagans was also the catalyst of another 8-0 run, scoring on a fast-break dunk and feeding E.J. Montgomery for an alley-oop on another nifty drive. Hagans finished with a career-high 23 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals. Contrast that with the line of Georgia’s starting point guard. Turtle Jackson had 2 points on 1-of-8 shooting, 0-for-5 from 3 and 2 assists. Everybody in Stegeman Coliseum was thinking the same thing: “Man, how much different would the Bulldogs look with Hagans on their team.” That narrative hasn’t been limited to the Kentucky game. Georgia was a victim of the same level of backcourt deficiency in its loss to No. 11 Auburn this past Saturday. It was not lost on anybody that the Tigers’ two leading scorers from that game both were guards from Georgia, Jared Harper of Mableton’s Pebblebrook High (22 points, 7 assists) and Bryce Brown of Tucker High (15 points). Crean knows this. Georgia’s working on it. They Bulldogs reportedly are in on some of the top point guards in the nation. A master identifier and acquirer of talent at Marquette and Indiana, Crean knows what great guards look like and how to sign them. Trouble is, none of them are going to be in a Georgia uniform this season. They’re are a few in other uniforms, though, including the one in blue Tuesday. The post Georgia Bulldogs not ready for primetime until they fix guard issues appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — A sellout crowd and strong start wasn’t enough for the Georgia basketball program to snap a losing streak to Kentucky that has now reached 12 games. The Bulldogs (9-7, 1-3) dropped a 69-49 decision to the No. 12-ranked Wildcats (13-3, 3-1 SEC) in an ESPN-televised affair on Wednesday night at Stegeman Coliseum. Nicolas Claxton left his best on the floor, leading the team with 12 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Georgia was an atrocious 4-of-27 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc, missing on several open shots as Kentucky ran away with the game. Many of the sellout crowd left at the 9:01 mark after Kentucky went on an 8-0 run accentuated by two dunks, building a 16-point lead. Things grew worse, as the Bulldogs missed their final nine shots in the game, many of the fans marching out the aisles as UK dribbled out the clock. Kentucky hasn’t lost to Georgia in basketball since a March 7 defeat in 2013 in Athens (72-62). The Wildcats opened the second half on a 9-0 run, the first seven points scored by Kentucky point guard and one-time Georgia commit Ashton Hagans. Hagans scored a career-high 23 points for the Wildcats, and it marked the second straight game the opposing team’s leading scorer was a Georgia high school product. Rayshaun Hammonds, who entered the night as the Bulldogs’ leading scorer, didn’t get his first points until the 14:54 mark, hitting two of three free throws to cut the lead to 44-33. It was an uninspiring performance from Hammonds, who finished with 11 points on 3-of-8 shooting and 4 rebounds. Kentucky held a 35-31 lead at the half, shooting 46.7 percent from the floor while the Bulldogs were struggling from the perimeter, just 2-of-13 beyond the 3-point arc through the first 20 minutes. Georgia opened the game in impressive fashion with five dunks and a free throw, leading 11-6 at the 14:12 mark on a Claxton dunk. The proved to be the highlight of the night. The Wildcats answered with a 12-3 run that took less than 3 minutes, off and running in transition as the Bulldogs missed four of five shots . Georgia came back to tie the game at 27-27 on a Claxton drive at the 4:55 mark that capped a 10-4 run. The Bulldogs missed seven of their final eight shots in the first half, yielding the lead to Kentucky at intermission Georgia returns to action with a noon home game against Florida (TV: CBS) before another sellout crowd at Stegeman Coliseum. The Bulldogs next five home games are sold out, with the Feb. 20 home game with Mississippi State the first one remaining with tickets available through the box office. The post Georgia basketball can’t stop Kentucky, falls 69-49 appeared first on DawgNation.