ATHENS, Ga. - For Jarvis Hayes, games don't get any bigger than tonight's at Georgia Tech.
Hayes, a junior swingman for No. 17 Georgia, attended Yellow Jackets games as a child. He played at Alexander Memorial Coliseum during the state playoffs while at Douglass High School.
"Just say Georgia Tech - enough said," said Hayes, whose Bulldogs (1-1) will tip off against the Yellow Jackets (1-0) at 7 p.m. in a game televised on Fox Sports South. "This is bigger than any game on the schedule this year."
Hayes isn't the only Georgia player who's jacked up for the 179th edition of the rivalry. Eleven of the 13 players listed on the Bulldogs' roster are from the Peach State.
"Our players know the magnitude of the game," said fourth-year coach Jim Harrick, whose team owns three straight victories over Georgia Tech. "They like to go down and play there. That's a special treat for them, certainly."
The Yellow Jackets aren't as well represented by players from Georgia; just four of their 14 players hail from the Peach State.
"It's probably a bigger game for our players than for their players," Harrick said. "Most of our guys grew up with it and realize the situation."
Georgia's players say they aren't worried about tonight's game being overshadowed by Saturday's football showdown in Athens between the Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets. The timing is actually quite good, they say, because two wins over Georgia Tech in four days would be doubly sweet.
"It's a perfect time for us to get a win and the football team to get a win," said junior forward Chris Daniels, who's from Albany, Ga. "We've been joking with the football players all week that we need to go out and take care of business."
Harrick has been a part of other intense rivalries during his 22 years as a head coach. Whether it's UCLA-Southern Cal, Rhode Island-Providence or Georgia-Georgia Tech, the flavor is always the same.
"They all have a friction that gets everyone excited," he said. "It's a fun time for a lot of people."
Reach Larry Williams at (706) 823-3645 or firstname.lastname@example.org.