Rise and shine.
That‚Äôs what the Georgia men‚Äôs basketball team has done in elevating its season by winning 14 of 21 games after a 6-6 start.
Now, the Bulldogs will try to keep that season going at their earliest tipoff time in years.
Louisiana Tech will tangle with Georgia at 11 a.m. today in Stegeman Coliseum in a second-round game of the National Invitation Tournament.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs early,‚Äù Georgia guard Charles Mann said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre going to have to adapt to how early it is and just go out there and play. That‚Äôs no excuse.‚Äù
It‚Äôs a battle of Bulldogs that have won in different fashions.
Louisiana Tech is 14th in the nation in scoring (81.3 points points/game) and is fifth in the nation in steals (9.1/game). Georgia is 32nd in the nation in field goal defense (40.2 percent) and 39th in rebounding margin (4.5)
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre going to have to adapt to their speed and quickness and just take good care of the ball,‚Äù Mann said, ‚Äúand just play our game to win the game.‚Äù
Second-seeded Georgia (20-13) had a season-high 22 turnovers in its 63-56 first-round win against Vermont Wednesday.
‚ÄúWe need to be much better,‚Äù said Mann, who scored a career-high 29 points but had seven turnovers. ‚ÄúWe can‚Äôt have another game like that and expect to win because that‚Äôs not likely to happen. We‚Äôve got to take great care of the ball like we did pretty much throughout the season.‚Äù
Added coach Mark Fox: ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve got to pass and catch it cleaner. We‚Äôve got to defend much better. We‚Äôve got to get back on the glass. We‚Äôve got to do a lot of things to win because they‚Äôre very, very good.‚Äù
Third-seeded Louisiana Tech (28-7) won the Conference USA regular season title in its first season in the league after moving from the Western Athletic Conference, the same league where Fox coached at Nevada.
Fox was 10-1 against Louisiana Tech as Nevada head coach from 2004-09, but hadn‚Äôt followed them as closely since then.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs a heck of conference game to go from Ruston to Reno,‚Äù Fox said.
Fox likened Louisiana Tech‚Äôs press to Ole Miss and LSU. Its coach, Michael White, was an assistant at Ole Miss from 2004-11.
‚ÄúThey‚Äôll have an athletic team that‚Äôs playing fast,‚Äù Fox said.
Louisiana Tech point guard Kenneth ‚ÄúSpeedy‚Äù Smith, who scored on a putback with 2.2 seconds left in an 89-88 NIT first round home win against Iona on Wednesday, is seventh in the nation with 2.6 steals per game and is second with 7.9 assists per game.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre just going to try to do our best and play to our strengths,‚Äù Georgia forward Marcus Thornton said.
Third-seeded Louisiana Tech (28-7) was No. 62 in the NCAA‚Äôs official RPI earlier this week.
The Conference USA team had a strength of schedule of 211, with 19 of its wins against sub 150 RPI teams. Its best wins came against Oklahoma and Southern Miss.
Florida State or Georgetown await the winner in the next round of the NIT Wednesday .
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs going to be no games easily won now,‚Äù Fox said. ‚ÄúIn March, everybody‚Äôs good.‚Äù
Louisiana Tech calls itself the Dunkin‚Äô Dogs ‚Äî reviving a name used when Karl Malone was there in the early 1980s. The team averages about four jams a game. Look for the visitors to try alley-oop dunks.
Georgia is hoping for another revved-up crowd despite the morning tip. Georgia has played 11:30 a.m. games in front of elementary school students each of the last two Decembers, but this is believed to be the earliest tip for a Georgia game for at least 20 years and perhaps way beyond that.
Students will be admitted free again and the first 500 in line by 9:30 get a breakfast biscuit that Fox is slated to help hand out.
‚ÄúHopefully we can get the kind of energy in the building,‚Äù Thornton said, ‚Äúthat we had on Wednesday.‚Äù
LOUISIANA TECH at GEORGIA
When/Where: 11 a.m. today/Stegeman Coliseum
What: National Invitation Tournament second-round game
TV/Radio: ESPN/The Ref 960-AM
Follow Marc online at twitter.com/marcweiszer.