Huge win for Fox’s team at Stegeman against Cats
by Ryan Scates
Don’t look now, but Mark Fox and the Georgia Men’s Basketball team is the early class of the SEC East in 2011. With a conference-opening win over Kentucky, the Dawgs have claimed their first nine-game winning streak since the famous 1982-1983 season that ended in the Final Four. Further, the Dawgs’ nine game win streak is the best in the SEC so far this season.
Through non-conference play, the Dawgs posted an 11-2 mark, which is the best start for the team since 2002. Considering both losses came to opponents who went on to be ranked at the beginning of conference play, Georgia looks to be a serious contender for the SEC East title.
At preseason media days Georgia was picked by conference media to finish third in the SEC East, however some erratic play across the division may have some pundits changing their tone regarding the Dawgs.
Florida, the preseason favorite to win the conference, has dropped contests to UCF and lowly Jacksonville State in non-conference play. Tennessee has dropped contests to Oakland, Charlotte and College of Charleston but has also shown an ability to win the big game with victories over Memphis and Pittsburgh. With a big win over Kentucky under their belt, the Hoop Dawgs are sitting pretty as SEC play begins.
Of course, one of the biggest factors in SEC basketball is a raucous home court advantage. Georgia basketball fans are living up to the reputation earned in the 2009-2010 season when the Dawgs won five games inside a rowdy Stegeman Coliseum. At the Kentucky game the student sections were packed and the front row was filled with some of the most outrageous gameday outfits in the SEC. “Rocky”, a gorilla, a guy in a pink speedo and an overgrown elf joined the obligatory Green, Blue, Pink, and Orange men in the front row.
But the Dawgs won’t have the luxury of playing all conference games inside the friendly and historic Stegeman Coliseum. One of the biggest weaknesses from last year’s squad was an inability to win games on the road. After posting wins in St. Louis, Georgia Tech and Mercer’s respective gymnasiums, this year’s team is providing plenty of reason to believe it can compete across the SEC.
Mark Fox and the Dawgs take their 12-2 record on the road at Vanderbilt (1/12) and Ole Miss (1/15) before returning home for a three game homestand that brings Tennessee, (1/18), Miss. St. (1/22) and Florida (1/25) to historic Stegeman Coliseum for a showdown with the Red and Black.