Stomach bug strikes Bulldogs as they prep for Rebels

Georgia would have enjoyed its Wednesday evening victory over Mississippi State a little more, but half the team was feeling a little bit queasy.

Bulldogs coach Mark Fox — who was the only representative from the program available to the media Friday afternoon — said that at least six players had been felled by a stomach ailment that seemed to be making its rounds through the team.

It’s unknown if any players won’t be available today when the Bulldogs (13-10, 7-4 Southeastern Conference) host Ole Miss (16-8, 7-4) for what amounts to third place behind No. 3 Florida (11-0) and No. 14 Kentucky (9-2).

“I’m sure it’s not done,” Fox said of the bug. “I don’t know who else is going to get it, but I’m sure it’s going to catch somebody.”

Fox added that Cameron Forte, Kenny Gaines and Juwan Parker were already sick before the team left Athens on Tuesday for Starkville, Miss. John Cannon and Brandon Young were the next victims and J.J. Frazier fell ill just before Wednesday’s tipoff.

“Juwan, for instance, (during) the pregame warm-ups (was) in the restroom getting sick,” Fox said of Parker, who scored a career-high 16 points in 20 minutes of play. “I kind of joked with him and said, ‘This is going to help you relax and play well,’ and in the second half he did play well. (The sickness) made it a little more challenging but it’s a bug going through the campus.”

Pronouncing himself in good health Friday afternoon, Fox said that the Bulldogs traveling party all wore surgical masks en route to Mississippi State, although tracking down and acquiring said masks wasn’t an easy task on a snowy afternoon.

“I feel good. I wore a mask,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out how to leave because we couldn’t get a plane in here, so if we’re on a bus let’s get out of here as fast as we can. The university is closed and the health center is closed, so (the team trainer is) scrambling to find every surgical mask he can find. We wore them on the bus and on the plane.”

Riding a three-game winning streak, Georgia will no doubt need as many healthy bodies as possible for the Rebels, who lost to Alabama Tuesday but have won six of their last eight games.

Ole Miss touts senior guard Marshall Henderson, the player opposing teams’ fans love to hate, who is averaging a team-leading 19.3 points per game and is ranked third in the SEC in scoring. But Fox was quick to point out that Henderson is in league with steady teammates, including junior Jarvis Summers (17 ppg) and Aaron Jones (seven rebounds per game).

“(Henderson) is a terrific player but he’s not the Lone Ranger on that team,” Fox said. “Certainly he needs special attention because he’s such a great shooter but they’ve surrounded him with really good shooting and really good players. So he gets a lot of the attention as he should, but he’s got great support around him. They’re a terrific offensive team.”

Ole Miss is fourth in the conference in scoring offense, averaging 76.9 points per game but the Rebels are dead last in the SEC in scoring defense, allowing 72 points a night. Georgia, led by Charles Mann’s 13.7 point-per-game average, is 10th in the league in scoring (70.1 ppg) and sixth in scoring defense (67.9 ppg).

The Bulldogs have five games remaining after today, which led Fox to dismiss queries about the significance of being along in third place in the conference.

“We’re just trying to win the next game,” he said. “Everyone has a lot of games to play and I don’t think we can get caught up in anything more than getting ready for the next game. Florida is the team in the lead and they’ve got a pretty good lead in the run for the championship. The rest of us are just trying to catch them.”

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