Jim Harrick isn't sure how to reclaim the magic that propelled his team to a six-game winning streak and a spot in the Top 25 three weeks ago.
Georgia's second-year basketball coach figures he'll just plug away with practice and hard work, and the Bulldogs have done plenty of both since their win over Vanderbilt a week ago.
"I don't really talk too much about winning and losing," said Harrick, whose team is fighting for an NCAA Tournament bid with a record of 14-11, 7-5 in the Southeastern Conference. "I want my team to do our best, but I don't think we've done our best the last few weeks. We need to get our intensity back and get healthy again and try to find a little magic we had in January."
The height of that January success came against Tennessee, were Georgia will be for tonight's 8 p.m. game in Knoxville, Tenn. On Jan. 27, forward Chris Daniels hit a transition layup in double overtime to lift the Bulldogs to a dramatic 77-75 triumph over the then-No. 6 Volunteers.
It was Georgia's sixth straight win, and it earned them a No. 25 ranking and a spot atop the SEC East. But the Bulldogs descended into a Dawg Daze thereafter, losing four straight games and slipping from the Top 25 as quickly as they got there.
Last week's 70-68 win over the Commodores snapped the streak, but Harrick said he still believes his team hasn't completely shaken off the doldrums. The Bulldogs need at least two more wins to secure an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. After tonight, they play host to South Carolina on Saturday and Mississippi State on Feb. 28 before ending the regular season March 3 at Arkansas.
Tennessee has lost four in a row, but the Vols' plummet appears more pronounced and damaging than Georgia's. The Vols have lost seven of their past nine games, and they fell behind by 17 points against Florida and 19 against Kentucky before losing to both..
The No. 22 Vols (18-8, 5-7) appeared a cinch for the NCAA Tournament less than a month ago, but nothing is guaranteed if this Rocky Flop continues.
The last time Tennessee lost five in a row was in February of 1995, when coach Kevin O'Neill's squad finished 11-16. Current coach Jerry Green, who recently has had to endure questions concerning his job security, said the problem is simple: His team is making bad decisions against good teams.
"We're making a lot of mistakes offensively, which puts pressure on our defense," said Green, whose team was picked to win the SEC East before the season but is tied for fourth with South Carolina. "We're doing a lot of things wrong defensively that put pressure on our offense. Basically, it comes down to we're not playing good. We haven't played good now for about three weeks."
Reach Larry Williams at (706) 823-3645 or email@example.com.