Lady Bulldogs take advantage of season’s second bye week

When the Southeastern Conference increased by two teams before this season, the basketball schedule had to expand with it.

This season, Georgia gets not just one, but two bye weeks during conference play because the slate has stretched a week longer on the calendar.

“I find it refreshing,” Georgia coach Andy Landers said. “It gives you an opportunity to take a breath and refocus on things that you want to focus on. It also allows your staff to get out and do some recruiting. It’s been a good week. We had a really good practice on Tuesday. We took (Thursday) off totally and that was good. We had two good reps so hopefully we’re far ahead of our preparation for Florida.”

No. 13 Georgia (20-4, 8-3 SEC) comes off of its bye to play Florida (15-10, 4-7) at 1 p.m. today in the O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Fla.

In fluke of scheduling, Georgia’s previous bye also came before beating the Gators 69-52 on Jan. 27.

“It’s good for us, but I’m sure they don’t really like it,” Georgia guard Jasmine James said. “Florida is a team that runs a lot of different offenses, so it gives us a little more time to look at what they do and prepare for it. This week has been different than that last bye week. That loss to Texas A&M was low energy and not much fight. But last week against LSU, we just came up short. This week we’ve done a lot of focus on film. It hasn’t been a matter of practicing every day. There were lot times we didn’t even practice. We just watched film. We’ve had a lot of time to prepare for them this week and when we go in there, we’ll be ready.”

Georgia’s first bye week came after a lackluster loss to Texas A&M.

Landers went on the road for a recruiting trip and the Lady Bulldogs followed that game up with a practice so sloppy that he shut down the gym for a day until he returned. Georgia responded by winning four in a row before losing at LSU 62-54 last Sunday.

“Our bye week the last time was after A&M,” Georgia freshman Shacobia Barbee said. “We had hard practices after that. We got a lot better. We focused on what we needed to get better. But we got a day off to rest our bodies in there and that really helped. It allows us to work on ourselves and then when it gets closer to game time, we’ll work on the other team like we normally do. But it feels good to have a chance to do that during a long season.”

A team on a bye week can use that time in different ways. It can focus on its own problem areas and turn it into a mini-preseason camp, it can rest weary bodies and minds or it can use the extra days for preparation for the next opponent.

“I think it’s weird having two bye weeks,” James said. “One of the things we’ve had issues with in the past was by the time we got to our bye week we’ve been exhausted. So to have two this year has given us a lot of time to rest and exhaustion and being tired really hasn’t been a factor.”

This bye week signals the start of the stretch run toward the postseason.

Georgia only has five regular-season games remaining and three of those are on the road. The SEC Tournament begins on March 6.

Georgia at Florida

When: 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Where: O’Connell Center, Gainesville, Fla.

Radio: WRFC 960-AM

TV: CSS

Records: Georgia is 20-3, 8-2 in the SEC; LSU is 13-10, 4-6

Rankings: Georgia is No. 13, Florida is unranked

Probable starting lineups

Florida: G Jaterra Bonds (Jr., 5-7, 12.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg); G Sydney Moss (Fr., 5-11, 10.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg); F Lily Svete (Jr., 6-2, 5.6 ppg, 2.0 rpg); F Christin Mercer (Fr., 6-0, 6.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg); F Jennifer George (Sr., 6-0, 12.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg)

Georgia: G Jasmine James (Sr., 5-9, 11.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg); G Khaalidah Miller (Jr., 5-9, 9.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg); G Shacobia Barbee (Fr., 5-10, 6.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg); F Anne Marie Armstrong (Sr., 6-3, 7.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg); F Jasmine Hassell (Sr., 6-2, 12.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg)

Series record: Georgia leads Georgia leads 47-14, including 19-10 in Gainesville.

Last meeting: Georgia beat Florida 69-52 on Jan. 27.

Season at a glance: Georgia lost 62-54 at LSU last Sunday to break a four-game winning streak. Florida has lost six of its last eight, including a 78-71 decision at Texas A&M on Thursday.

Noteworthy: This is the second time this season that Georgia has faced Florida after a mid-week bye. … Jasmine Hassell has had double-figure scoring and rebounding nights the last two games. … Georgia has hit 41 of 137 (29.9 percent) from the field in its last two games. … Georgia has also been outrebounded in its last two games. … Florida has won the last four meetings in Gainesville. … Georgia’s 69-52 win in January is Florida’s largest margin of defeat so far this season. … The last seven games in the series have been decided by nine points or less and Georgia has won four. … Florida’s leading scorer and rebounder Jennifer George has returned to the starting lineup after missing parts of two SEC games with an injured shoulder.

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