Georgia-Mississippi Preview

Georgia has returned to the Top 25 for the first time in almost
eight years. The team’s stay there could last all of one week.

With a second straight loss all but assuring them of a quick
exit from the rankings, the 24th-ranked Bulldogs will try to avoid
that fate at Mississippi on Saturday.

Georgia (12-3, 1-1 SEC) capped a nine-game winning streak last
Saturday with an upset of then-No. 10 Kentucky in its SEC opener,
earning a place in the Top 25 for the first time since the final
poll of 2002-03. Staying in the rankings figured to be difficult
with the Bulldogs scheduled for road games this week against
Vanderbilt and Mississippi.

They’ve lost nine straight and 25 of 27 on the road in
conference play.

Wednesday’s game against the Commodores became problematic well
before the opening tip, as the Bulldogs had to bus in from Athens
due to a winter storm. They also missed practice Tuesday after
having trouble arranging for a charter bus.

That lack of preparation may have played a role as Georgia shot
a season-low 34.7 percent in a 73-66 loss, its first since Nov. 26.
The Bulldogs trailed by eight at halftime and never got closer than
three in the second half.

Coach Mark Fox refused to blame the travel problems for the poor
play and declined to comment when asked about his team’s 15
free-throw attempts, compared to 35 for Vanderbilt.

“I thought Vanderbilt played with real determination and focus,
probably played with greater purpose than we did,” Fox said.

The 15 free-throw attempts were in stark contrast to the
Kentucky game, during which Fox’s team went 30 of 34 from the
line.

Junior guard Travis Leslie, second on the team with 14.4 points
per game, had one of his best games of the season against
Vanderbilt with 21 points and season highs of 13 rebounds and five
assists.

Trey Thompkins, averaging a team-best 17.7 points, was limited
to 13 on 5-of-14 shooting after averaging 21.3 points while hitting
24 of 40 from the field in his previous three games.

Mississippi (12-5, 0-2) will try to avoid a third straight loss
after falling 69-64 to rival Mississippi State on Thursday night.
The Rebels held a seven-point lead in the second half, but shot a
season-low 34.8 percent from the field, connecting on only 12 of a
school-record 35 3-point attempts.

Senior point guard Chris Warren was a bright spot again,
matching a career high with seven 3-pointers en route to 25 points.
Warren, who broke the school record for career 3-pointers, has
scored at least 20 points an SEC-best nine times this season.

The Rebels will try avoid their first 0-3 start in conference
play since 2003-04, but will have to end a six-game losing streak
against ranked opponents.

Mississippi won 80-76 at Georgia last season, its fourth win in
the last five meetings. The Rebels have won three straight at home
against the Bulldogs since an 89-82 loss on Feb. 26, 2003.