CATEGORY: Basketball



By Chris Burrows

Daily Journal

When Tubby Smith was approached about applying for the job as basketball head coach at Georgia in March, he immediately picked up the phone and made one phone call.

“I called Rob Evans (head coach at Ole Miss), because I knew Rob would tell me the truth,” said Smith, who eventually took the job after guiding Tulsa to consecutive Sweet 16 berths in the NCAA Tournament. “If Rob thought it was a good move, I knew it would be a good move.”

Today, Evans might want to consider whether giving any more advice to Tubby Smith is such a good move. Smith’s Bulldogs are 9-1, ranked No. 16 in the Associated Press poll and will host the Rebels at 6:30 p.m. in the SEC opener for both schools.

Evans isn’t surprised.

“Georgia is either the second or third best team in the SEC right now,” Evans said. “They’re definitely a Top 20-type of team. But I’m not surprised. I knew the personnel and I knew what kind of coach Tubby Smith is.

“You’re talking about a team with eight seniors. When you’ve got that kind of experience in this league and throw in a good freshman class of five more, then it’s not a surprise to me they’re 9-1.”

Included in Georgia’s 9-1 start are impressive wins over Pitt of the Big East, Georgia Tech of the ACC and Virginia Tech of the Metro. The only loss was on the road to North Carolina. The Bulldogs are averaging 89 points per game at home.

The veteran starting lineup, all seniors, has excellent size on the front line: 6-10, 6-8 and 6-6. The Bulldogs also feature three starters who average in double figures. Guard Katu Davis, who was selected in December as an SEC Player of the Week award winner, leads the way with 16.7 points per contest.

Ole Miss lost to the Bulldogs 79-51 last season, but won two years ago in Athens, 85-69. Evans, whose club was road-tested in getting off to a 5-4 start, remembers that game well and isn’t conceding anything.

“We’re going over to win the game,” Evans said. “I know this is a young team and I know it’s tough to play on the road in this league. But we believe we can win every game, no matter where it’s played.”

The Rebels are led by a trio of freshman starters: leading scorer Keith Carter, a 6-4 guard; forward Jason Smith and point guard Michael White. Sophomore forward Ansu Sesay and senior guard Ervin Garnes complete the starting lineup.

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