After the effort Georgia had to expend to reach their destination, today‚Äôs game against Mississippi State may seem almost easy in comparison.
Due to inclement weather conditions, the Bulldogs started their day planning to bus all the way to Starkville, a distance of some 350 miles, rather than fly from Atlanta.
But within 20 minutes of heading west, the team learned it was cleared to fly out of Atlanta to Columbus, Miss., the closest commercial airport near Starkville, so the bus was pointed to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Such is the nature of winter travel in the Deep South.
Georgia‚Äôs women‚Äôs basketball team also departed Tuesday afternoon ‚Äî a day early ‚Äî to Atlanta for a flight to College Station for its game Thursday evening against Texas A&M.
Riding a two-game winning streak, The Bulldogs (12-10, 6-4 in the Southeastern Conference) hope to make it three in a row at Mississippi State (13-10, 3-7), which is enduring a five-game losing skid.
But getting there ‚Äî and getting home ‚Äî figures to be quite a challenge.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt think it will affect us too much,‚Äù Fox, who collected his 200th career coaching victory Saturday in Georgia‚Äôs 62-50 victory over Texas A&M, said. ‚ÄúThe fact that we had no classes (Tuesday) gave us a chance to get done what we needed to get done this morning and get on the road in time. I don‚Äôt think it will be a big factor. The greatest concern I have will be the trip home because looking at the forecast it appears to be a little more treacherous.‚Äù
Fox added that postponing the game was never part of the equation.
‚ÄúI believe Mississippi State cancelled class (on Tuesday) also,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúWe owe it to the league to try to get to and play the game. We‚Äôre going to do everything we can to make it over. That‚Äôs our responsibility as competitors. Even if we have to hitchhike, we‚Äôll get there.‚Äù
Guard Kenny Gaines said that he and his teammates‚Äô only worry was Mississippi State.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt think we‚Äôre too concerned (about the travel),‚Äù Gaines, who averages 11.8 points per game, said. ‚ÄúAs players, we‚Äôre more focused on the game and we let the coaches and staff handle the travel and everything. We know they‚Äôll get us there safely so we want to just focus more on the game.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre on a two-game winning streak and it will be a test playing Mississippi State. They‚Äôre a good team and are definitely better than their record shows. We have to focus on the little things. They like to run in transition a lot and we need to make sure we‚Äôre back on (defense) to stop their transition breaks. And we‚Äôve got to guard the basket. They like to drive the ball a lot.‚Äù
Once the Bulldogs arrive in Starkville they may find themselves playing without one of their top contributors, junior forward Nemanja Djurisic, who injured his ankle in the second half of Saturday‚Äôs game against Texas A&M. Fox said Tuesday afternoon that he wasn‚Äôt sure about the status of the team‚Äôs valued sixth man, who‚Äôs averaging 10 points a game coming off the bench.
‚ÄúNeme did not practice (Monday) and I have not seen him yet (Tuesday morning), so I don‚Äôt have any information on how he‚Äôs doing,‚Äù Fox said. ‚ÄúHe doesn‚Äôt have a high ankle sprain, but he does have a traditional ankle sprain. It was swollen and black and blue, so we‚Äôll see how he‚Äôs responded overnight and (Wednesday) morning will be the biggest key.‚Äù
If Djurisic is unable to answer the bell, Fox said he‚Äôd turn to Tim Dixon, John Cannon and even Brandon Morris to fill in at forward.
Georgia and Mississippi State are set to meet again on March 5 at Stegeman Coliseum.
Georgia at Miss. State
When/where: 9 p.m. today/Humphrey Coliseum, Starkville, Miss.
TV/radio: FSSO/ The Ref 960-AM
Records: Georgia is 12-10 and 6-4 in the Southeastern Conference; Ole Miss is 13-10 and 3-7 in the SEC.