If Georgia is shorthanded against Vanderbilt again tonight, it isn’t likely to get any sympathy from the Commodores.
That’s because visiting Vanderbilt is down to seven scholarship players and added senior manager Rob Cross to its roster before a game against Missouri on Jan. 16.
Georgia typically has used a rotation 10-deep in SEC games, but was missing injured shooting guards Kenny Gaines and Juwan Parker in its 79-54 loss at Kentucky Saturday and might not have both back on the court tonight.
“Either way, I just have to deal with it with them or without them,” said point guard Charles Mann, who struggled against the Wildcats.
Coach Mark Fox was asked if Gaines (thigh bruise) and Parker (strained hamstring) would be OK to play tonight.
“I don’t know about that,” Fox said Tuesday afternoon. “We took one of them down for an additional exam today just because he’s kind of plateaued in his treatment. I’m sure we’ll do some testing to see if they can reach the benchmarks they need to reach to get back on the court.”
Fox preferred not to disclose which player was slower to recover, but said “neither one of them is where I really want them to be at the moment.” They were both said to be in treatment during prepractice interviews.
One Georgia player said Gaines and Parker practiced “a little bit” on Monday and another said he expected at least one of the two to play tonight.
Mann struggled against Kentucky “as the only true guard we had out there and they picked him up full court,” Fox said.
Mann shot 1 of 9 from the field and 7 of 15 for the line in a nine-point outing against Kentucky.
“I’ve been in a little slump lately and I feel I’ll get out of it (against Vanderbilt),” said Mann, who has seen his team-leading scoring average dip to 12.9 points per game.
Walk-on guard Taylor Echols played 14 minutes after seeing just two minutes previously in SEC games.
Vanderbilt’s already thin roster was further depleted when center Josh Henderson was lost for the season with a torn ACL in December and guard Eric McClellan was dismissed for academic reasons earlier this month.
The Commodores have a 10-man roster now.
“We want to try to use our depth as an X factor,” Mann said. “Try to wear them down and play hard. They have seven (scholarship) players. …Their guards are real good, but we want to try to wear them down and go after them.”
Vanderbilt has three of the top four in minutes played in Southeastern Conference games with Dai-Jon Parker logging 39.3 minutes per game, Kyle Fuller at 38.3 and Rod Odom at 37.0.
“We don’t always play the way we need to play, but I’ve been very proud of their effort and energy level given some of our challenges that we have presently,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said.
Stallings said he’s cut back practice times some, but still gets the work done.
“I’ve got some good seniors,” Stallings aid. “Fuller and Odom are very hard-working guys. I can trust them to tell me how they’re legs feel. I’ve probably continued to err on the side of caution.”
Getting Gaines back would be a boost for the Bulldogs. He leads Georgia in scoring in SEC game at 13.2 points per game.
“His talent level is sky-high,” Stallings said. “He’s athletic, he can shoot, he can get to the rim, he can defend. He’s a big-time player to me. I know that Mann gets a lot of the coverage and should and gets a lot of the attention and should, but Gaines is an outstanding player in my opinion as well. …If you take an extremely talented player off any starting five in our league, it’s going to impact that team in some way for sure.”
VANDERBILT AT GEORGIA
When/Where: 7 p.m. today/Stegeman Coliseum.
TV/Radio: CSS/The Ref 960-AM
Records: Vanderbilt is 10-8, 2-4 SEC; Georgia is 10-8, 4-2 SEC.
Probable Starters Vanderbilt– G Kyle Fuller (Sr., 6-1, 188, 11.1 ppg, 4.1 apg); G Dai-Jon Parker (Jr., 6-3, 190, 6.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg); F Rod Odom (Sr., 6-9, 212, 14.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg); F James Siakem (R.Jr., 6-7, 215, 7.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg); C Damian Jones (Fr., 6-10, 235, 11.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg.). Georgia – G Charles Mann (So., 6-5, 210, 12.9 ppg, 3.0 apg); G Kenny Gaines (So., 6-3, 195, 12.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg); F Brandon Morris (Jr., 6-7, 215, 9.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg; F Marcus Thornton (RJr., 6-8, 235, 7.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg); F Donte Williams (Sr., 6-9, 225, 5.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg).
Series: Vanderbilt leads 87-49, including 33-28 in Athens.
Last Meeting: Vanderbilt won in the only game between the teams last season, 63-62, on Feb. 27 in Nashville.
Season at a glance: Vanderbilt’s roster has been decimated. The Commodores are down to seven scholarship players and 10 total players after leading scorer Eric McClellan was dismissed from the team and Kedren Johnson was suspended for the season this summer. The Commodores lost four of their first five SEC games before a 66-55 win at Texas A&M Saturday. Georgia is coming off its most lopsided loss of the season, 79-54, at Kentucky, but gets three of its next four at home. The lone road game in that stretch is Saturday at SEC winless Auburn.
Noteworthy: Georgia is 9-1 at home, including eight in a row. …Siakam scored a career-best 22 with 10 rebounds against Texas A&M. …McClellan, a guard who transferred from Tulsa, was averaging 14.3 ppg and 4.4 rpg when dismissed from the team Jan. 10. Josh Henderson is out for the season after tearing knee ligaments and guard Kevin Bright opted this summer to play professionally in Germany. …Odom and Parker played all 40 minutes against Texas A&M. …Georgia is No. 116 in the latest NCAA RPI. Vanderbilt is No. 84. …Georgia and Vanderbilt are tied for fifth in the SEC with 4.9 blocks per game …Georgia is second in SEC play in rebounding margin at 9.2. Vanderbilt is 12th at minus-6.8. …Odom is third in the SEC in 3-pointers per game at 2.9. …Fuller ranks second in the SEC in assists with 4.1