January 4, 2010

Game against Tech a 'big deal' for Dawgs

Make no mistake.

Tuesday night's game against arch-rival Georgia Tech is all about bragging rights for Georgia's Trey Thompkins.

"It's important to us. Everyone knows the stakes are high. As individuals we think about it all the time. We talk about it in the lockerroom. We're ready for the challenge. It's big," Thompkin said after Monday's practice. "It makes it a little bit sweeter for whoever wins. After the game, we all get to talk smack for one more year."

Albert Jackson is no stranger to the rivalry.

Although he calls Kentucky home, the Bulldog senior learned very early what this game means to those who wear the red and black.

"I think from the day you get to Georgia you buy into all the traditions, all the hoopla, all the hype. It really starts to grow on you the longer you're here," Jackson said. "Having been here for four years, this game means a lot. It's a real big deal."

Tip-off Tuesday is set for 7 p.m. at Stegeman Coliseum. The game will be televised live by CSS.

Of course, Thompkin isn't the only Bulldog quite familiar with the Yellow Jackets (5-0), off to their best start in five years.

Peach State natives like Dustin Ware, Chris Barnes and Jeremy Price are quite familiar with Yellow Jackets like Gani Lawal, Alade Amine and the highly-touted Derrick Favors, who had Georgia in his top three before signing with Georgia Tech.

Thompkins is no stranger to the Yellow Jackets, either.

"He's a great player. He came to basketball camp here, and I've known him and his family for a long time. He's a tremendous offensive player and comes from a really good family," Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said. "He committed to Georgia really early if I'm not mistaken. We already had Lawal, Amini, Zach Peacock in the frontcourt. We wanted him, but he made a good decision for himself."

For Georgia (7-5) to have its best shot against the Yellow Jackets, the Bulldogs will need Thompkins to be at his best.

The 6-foot-10 sophomore leads Georgia in scoring at 15.9 points per game, but tallied only nine points before fouling out in last Saturday's 89-61 loss at Missouri.

Georgia's fun is just getting started.

After facing the Yellow Jackets who feature Favors, the Bulldogs open SEC play Saturday at Kentucky which features Jon Wall. Favors and Wall are considered by many draft prognosticators to be the top two picks in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Georgia coach Mark Fox hopes enough students will be on hand to enjoy the show.

Classes don't begin until Thursday, while Yellow Jacket fans will have decide if they want to watch the basketball team or stay home and watch the football squad play Iowa Tuesday night in the Orange Bowl.

"The timing (of the game) is a little unique I guess. We obviously inherited the date, but you'd like to play your rivalry game when your students are here. I don't know how many we will have, but that's out of our control," Fox said. "We have two very good teams we're playing. I saw today on an NBA draft projection, we're playing the top two picks in this year's NBA Draft, a week we get to see some great players."

But Fox is more concerned with his team working out its own issues. In Saturday's loss to Missouri, Georgia turned the ball over 23 times while dishing out only six assists.

"I don't think I've ever coached a team that had more turnovers than it did assists," Fox said. "Every game is indicative of our knowledge of the offense and we never did get into it. I think their extended pressure bothered us, and our reaction to adversity may be a greater concern to me. But we had been making some progress and taking care of the ball. We've got a number of guys without the right ratio, so that's certainly a concern we have to continue to address."

Georgia Tech at Georgia

WHEN: Tuesday, 7 p.m.

WHERE: Stegeman Coliseum

RECORDS: Georgia 7-5, Georgia Tech 11-1


RADIO: Georgia Bulldog Radio Network

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Georgia - F Trey Thompkins (15.9 ppg, 8.2 rpg), F Travis Leslie (12.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg), G Ricky McPhee (8.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg). Georgia Tech - F Gani Laai (14.8 ppg, 9.7 rpg), F Derrick Favors (12.4 ppg, 8.8 rpg), G Mfon Udofia (11.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg).

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