Georgia-Vanderbilt Preview

BY foxsports • January 11, 2011

Georgia joined the AP Top 25 this week for the first time in more than seven years. However, it could have a tough time staying in the rankings with two road games scheduled this week.

The 24th-ranked Bulldogs look to avoid a fifth straight road loss to Vanderbilt on Wednesday night.

Georgia (12-2, 1-0) is ranked for the first time since the final poll of 2002-03 after opening SEC play with a 77-70 upset of then-No. 10 Kentucky on Saturday. It was the Bulldogs' ninth straight victory, their longest run since reaching the Final Four in 1983.

"I think that (being ranked) is great recognition for our program and it's great for our fans," coach Mark Fox said. "I don't know that it makes a whole lot of difference to our team, though. We still have a lot of tough games to play."

Fox is in his second season with the Bulldogs, who went 14-17 last season and have made the NCAA tournament once since 2001-02. Ten of Georgia's wins this season have been by single-digit margins.

The team credits experience for being able to withstand early pressure. Georgia starts four juniors and a senior.

"The guys have been through the wars now and know how to handle their emotions in these type of games," said Trey Thompkins, who scored 25 points against the Wildcats.

Georgia, which led 41-30 at the break, held Kentucky to 38.0 percent shooting. Thompkins, who leads the team with 18.1 points per game, had another impressive performance after scoring 26 on Dec. 31 in a win over Eastern Kentucky, and has finished with at least 20 in three of the last four games.

However, the Bulldogs have a tough stretch this week which includes a visit to Mississippi on Saturday. They have won all three road games this season after going 0-12 last season and 1-9 in 2008-09. The last time they recorded at least four road victories in a season was 2002-03.

Georgia has lost its last four and eight of its last nine road games against the Commodores, although the Bulldogs nearly upset then-No. 16 Vanderbilt 96-94 on Feb. 25.

Vanderbilt (11-3, 0-1) fell out of the Top 25 on Monday, two days after an 83-75 overtime loss to South Carolina that snapped a four-game winning streak. The Commodores never trailed in regulation and appeared in control until the Gamecocks went on a 20-9 run to come back from a 63-52 deficit with 8:42 remaining.

"Even when we were ahead, I didn't like our look," coach Kevin Stallings said. "I didn't like our demeanor."

Leading scorer John Jenkins scored a career-high 27 points - including six 3-pointers - after missing one game with a concussion, but the rest of his team shot 35.3 percent. Jenkins scored 25 the last time he faced Georgia in a 78-66 victory on March 12.

Vanderbilt hasn't lost its first two conference games since 2001-02 when it opened 0-3. The Commodores are 8-0 this season at home, where they went 6-2 in league play last season.

"You've got to win your home games if you're going to win the conference title," Stallings said.

Vanderbilt also faces a big challenge Saturday with a visit to Tennessee.

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