February 13, 2008

Yata leads rout

For a team desperate for a little positive news, Georgia's 82-64 win over South Carolina could not have come at a better time.

At least senior Dave Bliss was breathing a bit easier.

"I don't know if we felt any pressure, but it was sure nice to get rid of some of that frustration," Bliss said of the victory which snapped the Bulldogs' five-game losing streak. "To get back in the win column, and in a pretty convincing way, I think gives us a little confidence going the rest of the way."

Georgia (12-10, 3-6) will need every ounce of confidence in its next game Saturday when 4th-ranked Tennessee comes to Stegeman Coliseum.

Wednesday's victory at least gives the Bulldogs some semblance of hope. It certainly beat the alternative after their five-game losing streak dropped the Bulldogs to the bottom of the SEC East standings and raised questions regarding Dennis Felton's future status as head coach.

At least for one evening, such talk was laid to the side as Georgia started quickly against the Gamecocks (12-11, 3-6) and cruised to a victory which saw four Bulldog players finish in double-figures.

Once again, senior Sundiata Gaines led the way, scoring a game-high 27 points after tallying a career-high 32 points Saturday against Florida.

South Carolina coach Dave Odom was certainly impressed.

"After tonight's performance I can say that (Gaines) is the best guard in the conference, I mean, he is really the best in the conference," Odom said. "He has taken over offensively. He has always been a great defender, and is definitely their team leader. He was again tonight."

Gaines was followed by freshman Jeremy Price, whose 19 points were the second-most for his young career, with Terrance Woodbury chipping in 13 and Bliss 12.

Georgia played the game with only eight players following the recent three-game suspension of Billy Humphrey, plus the fact that backup forward Chris Barnes did not play after sitting out with an undetermined eye condition.

"We've just got eight players now, unfortunately, but I am an aggressive player and just wanted to do what I could to keep the team up-tempo," Gaines said. "I just wanted to keep everybody active."

Gaines, who along with fellow guard Zac Swansey, played all 40 minutes, certainly did that and more for Georgia which used a zone defense the entire game.

"When we came in with the idea of going zone knowing that we'd go with our traditional lineup on the court instead of being in position where their quicker forwards could take advantage of our bigger posts," Felton said. "We played zone so that would wipe that out, thus we were able to take advantage of their smaller, quicker forwards offensively."

The Bulldogs didn't do too badly defensively, either.

Georgia dominated the boards, outrebounding South Carolina 43-21, with Price snaring a team-high 12 rebounds to complete his third career double-double. Bliss added 10 rebounds to go with his 12 points.

Devan Downey led South Carolina with 20 points, followed by Zam Frederick with 15.

"Obviously, we never got a handle on the game tonight," Odom said. "They controlled the boards and it was very disheartening them getting two or three shots every night."

NOTES: Felton said he was unsure how long Barnes would be out after trainers discovered the eye condition that's forced the player, who wears contacts, to wear dark shades over both his eyes. "Right now we don't know how long he will be out. It's a very serious thing. We feel blessed that we were on it so quick because it's literally the kind of thing where you can lose your vision. He's recovering well, but I don't know when we're going to have him back." … Gametime against Tennessee Saturday is 3 p.m. … Members of Georgia's 1983 Final Four team will be honored at halftime of the game against the Volunteers.

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