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Georgia’s Kirby Smart proving masterful at the ‘Art of the Flip’

Georgia’s Kirby Smart proving masterful at the ‘Art of the Flip’

Georgia’s Kirby Smart proving masterful at the ‘Art of the Flip’

Georgia’s Kirby Smart proving masterful at the ‘Art of the Flip’

ATHENS – Flip That Recruit.

That would be a great reality show for Kirby Smart. Smart and his wife Mary Beth could host it on the SEC Network each week and explain how they’re going to take this prospect, who has long since been committed to State U, and convince him he needs to come to Georgia instead.

Maybe he could follow that up with a book, like, The Art of the Flip. And then they could produce a sequel called, say, Flipping the Script.

Clearly “flipping” is something Smart is very good at. That’s a term given for changing a recruiting prospect’s mind about going to a school he has already committed to another.

Depending on how one quantifies it, Smart and his Georgia coaching staff executed at least five flips in putting together the 2018 signing class that was finalized on national signing day Wednesday. You might have heard, that class ended up with a consensus national ranking of No. 1.

It’s no wonder, considering two of those “flips” came from Alabama commitments. One was from defensive back Nadab Joseph from Miami, who signed with the Bulldogs during the early period. The other one came Wednesday when longtime Bama commitment Quay Walker, a linebacker from Crisp County, chose the Bulldogs at his signing ceremony in Cordele.

Georgia also flipped Otis Reese of Leesburg on Wednesday. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound 4-star safety went from being the highest-ranking member of Michigan’s 2018 class to maybe the 11th or 12th for the Bulldogs. Add those names to a list that also includes quarterback Justin Fields of Kennesaw, a one-time commitment to Penn State, and Divaad Wilson of Miami, once pledged to the Florida Gators.

Smart, as one might imagine, downplays the whole phenomena of the flip. He was asked about it at least twice, once during a nationally-televised interview on ESPNU and again during his news conference Wednesday at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall.

He said it’s more about sustained effort than it is about changing a prospect’s mind.

“It’’s great for the fans and they all want to make a big deal about it,” Smart said. “But, ultimately, it’s really about the relationships we’ve built with that kid all along. The fan thinks that Otis Reese decided last night that he was going to go to Georgia. That wasn’t the case. There was a relationship that was developed over the last year. Same thing with Quay.”

Ah, Quay Walker. His announcement was one to behold. The versatile linebacker who Smart says could play any one of the four linebacker positions Georgia currently has an opening for had been committed to the mighty Crimson Tide since last June. But neither the Bulldogs nor the Tennessee Vols ever relented in their pursuit.

In fact, Tennessee gained considerable traction for Walker once it made Jeremy Pruitt its coach. Pruitt had convinced Walker to commit to Bama as the Crimson Tide’s defensive coordinator. As the Vols’ coach, he went hard after Walker, and many projections had Walker heading for an orange-clad career heading into national signing day.

Not sure what kind of conversations Walker and Pruitt might’ve had before Walker’s announcement Wednesday, but Walker probably didn’t endear himself much with the Big Orange when he pretended like he was going to put on a Tennessee cap, then he flung it across the Crisp County gymnasium floor as he stood up and ripped off his warmups to reveal Georgia black Georgia garb underneath.

Smart cringed when he was asked about that move.

“I didn’t see it,” Smart said.  “I was watching 2019 and 2020 (prospect) tape at the time, so I didn’t actually see it. I did get a text from my wife that she was scared to death when he did that. That’s their moment in the sun, and some kids know how to handle it and some don’t. To each his own.”

And that’s the thing. Smart insists he’s not trying to burn opposing teams or certainly not trying to hurt opposing coaches when he changes a prospects’ mind. Obviously he has a close relationship with Alabama’s Nick Saban and with Pruitt and with Florida’s Dan Mullen. It’s simply a matter of them all being in the market for the same pedigree and position of player.

Like many veteran recruiters often say, a verbal commitment only means rival recruiters now knows who they have to beat.

“Coaches in the profession understand I have tremendous respect for the guy on the other side of that flip,” Smart said. “A lot of those guys are my friends. A lot of those guys I’ve worked with.”

That’s why Smart said he didn’t get much sleep over the last couple of nights. He intimated that at one point Tuesday his staff was convinced they might sign only one of their uncommitted targets.

Instead, they went 4-for-4 on Walker, Reese, cornerback Tyson Campbell and wide receiver Tommy Bush. All but one was thought to be leaning in another direction 24 hours before signing their paperwork.

And, so, flips can be particularly hard on the recruits themselves.

“They’re torn,” Smart said. “It’s a tough decision. We make it hard on them. When they do the flip, I know there’s somebody on the other side of that. I’ve been on the other side of that. So I’m not one to get into enjoyment of that.”

Yes, but the fans certainly do. There is probably nothing greater for recruitniks than to see their team flip a high-profile prospect from a rival program, especially from one like Alabama, which is generally not in the business of losing recruits it really wants.

And that’s where this 2018 class in particular might signal some headway for Georgia in its quest to become a major player again on a national level in college football. Sure, everybody knows that the Bulldogs’ got hot this past season and won the SEC championship for the first time in 12 years and made a run to the national championship game in their first appearance in the College Football Playoff.

But Smart’s challenge and his goal is in making sure that magical run doesn’t end up as a blip on the radar screen. What he and Georgia currently are doing in recruiting is a substantial leap in that direction.

It was well-chronicled Wednesday that Georgia’s No. 1 national ranking in recruiting was its first ever. Well, that’s at least since it has been comprehensively calculated since 2000.

More importantly, though, was the Bulldogs finishing first in the SEC. And not by a little bit. With 323.31 points in 247Sports.com’s composite rankings – the third highest total in the poll’s history – Georgia finished 48.81 points ahead of Alabama. The Bulldogs had nine prospects in this class who were ranked higher than any on any of the other SEC East.

The Crimson Tide had finished with 247Sports.com’s the top-ranked class every year since 2010 before Wednesday. They were ninth, according to Wednesday’s tally.

And the strong recruiting continued a trend under Smart. His first three classes at Georgia have come in sixth, third and first nationally. That’s an average national ranking of 3.3. The Bulldogs’ average national ranking in the 16 seasons before Smart’s arrival was 8.8. But that also tended to be third or fourth among the SEC teams.

So, Georgia certainly seems to be moving into a position of sustainability. Alas, strong recruiting classes don’t guarantee anybody anything, so we’ll see.

But we do know that the Bulldogs did get pretty much anybody they wanted. Well, with the possible exception of Rick Sandidge Jr. The big defensive tackle from Concord, N.C., was really the only target of the second signing period during this recruiting cycle that Georgia didn’t get. Sandidge ended up at South Carolina, as many had predicted.

But Smart didn’t look like he was ready to go out on the town celebrating. He was admittedly worn out from another relentless of talent.

“Have you looked at my face?” he said. “I have not slept much lately. … It was a lot of work.”

Yes, it takes a lot of effort and energy to flip a kid and his parents who say they’ve already made up their mind. It’s a lot easier to say, “oh, well, that’s that. Let’s go find somebody else.”

But then Georgia wouldn’t really be getting who it wanted. And for one recruiting period at least, Smart and the Bulldogs got pretty much everyone they wanted, be it via flip or not.

“To me, there’s no great sensation in flipping a kid,” Smart said. “I think it’s more about what’s right for the kid and how is his future going to be best served by going to the University of Georgia academically so he can set himself up for success in life.”

The post Georgia’s Kirby Smart proving masterful at the ‘Art of the Flip’ appeared first on DawgNation.

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  • Bubba Watson was feeling low about his health and even worse about his golf. It reached a point that he wondered if he would ever win again, and he says he talked with his wife on a dozen occasions about retiring. Being back at Riviera changed his outlook and made him a winner again. Watson stayed in the game with three key putts early on the back nine, then fulfilled a playful pledge he forgot he even made on the par-3 14th by holing a bunker shot for birdie that allowed him to seize control Sunday in the Genesis Open. He never gave anyone a chance the rest of the way, closing with a 2-under 69 for a two-shot victory over Tony Finau and Kevin Na. Watson won for the first time in two years, his longest drought of the decade. He joined Lloyd Mangrum and Ben Hogan as three-time winners at Riviera. And he won for the 10th time in his PGA Tour career, an important milestone to him. 'Nobody thought that Bubba Watson from Bagdad, Florida, would ever get to 10 wins. Let's be honest,' Watson said. 'Without lessons, head case, hooking the ball, slicing the ball, can't putt, you know?' He put on a clinic at Riviera, somehow managed to keep his focus, carved shots around, over and through the trees, and he made all the right putts. Watson talks the way he hits the ball — all over the map — and he was particularly elusive about what caused him to lose so much weight last year. He says he reached close to 160 pounds, which he says affected his game and ultimately his confidence. 'I'm here. I'm healthy,' he said. 'There are people that are a lot sicker than me in this world, so the illness is nothing.' Watson, who finished at 12-under 272, moved from No. 117 to No. 41 in the world, making him eligible for the World Golf Championship in Mexico in two weeks. Na hit a wedge close to perfection from the worst angle on the reachable par-4 10th hole for a birdie and two-putted for birdie on the 11th to briefly take the lead. He fell back with consecutive bogeys from the trees and shot 69. Finau lurked all day. His last chance was an eagle putt on the 17th that stopped inches short of the hole. Patrick Cantlay had a one-shot lead going to the back nine until he ran into tree trouble on the 12th and 13th holes. The UCLA alum could do no better than pars the rest of the way for a 71 to tie for fourth with Scott Stallings (68). Phil Mickelson also was in the hunt. He was within one shot of the lead when he hit a 4-iron from a deep bunker on the 15th hole to just right of the green. But he went after birdie and watched the ball roll 20 feet down the hill, leading to bogey. Mickelson shot 68 and tied for sixth. Coming off good weeks at Phoenix and Pebble Beach, Mickelson has three straight top 10s for the first time since 2009. The biggest moment for Watson involved his desperation to find a bathroom after they teed off on the 14th. Cameron Smith, who shot 71 and tied for sixth, told him there was one off the 15th tee and he was only a couple of shots away. 'I said, 'Nah, I'm just going to hole it and go to the bathroom.' And then I holed it,' he said. His caddie, Ted Scott, mentioned before Watson stepped into the bunker that he hadn't holed out in some time, so after the ball splashed out of the sand and rolled against the pin before dropping, he turned to Scott and said, 'You called it.' Smith came over and told Watson, 'You called it.' By then, Watson had forgotten their conversation. No matter. He never came close to bogey until it didn't matter, and he holed an 8-foot par putt on the 18th. The tears began flowing moments later. 'You never know if you're going to play good again,' Watson said as his voice choked. 'You never know if you're going to lift the trophy.' It was that four-hole stretch that carried him — a 10-foot birdie putt after hitting his approach into the bunker on the par-5 11th; the 8-foot par save after coming up short on No. 12; another 8-foot save on No. 13 when another shot came up short; and the bunker shot on the 14th. 'It went real fast where I went from losing to winning,' he said. With that, he wrapped up another fun-filled week in L.A. He won Riviera with a 64-64 weekend in 2014. He won Riviera in 2016 while filming a cameo in 'Girl Meets World.' This time he made a cameo in the NBA All-Star celebrity game, which included an infamous highlight of Tracy McGrady rejecting his shot . The distractions helped. The health helped even more. As for that retirement talk? 'I was close,' he said. 'My wife was not close. My wife basically told me to quit whining and play golf. I would rather be healthy than play golf, so that's what I was focusing on. I was focusing on the wrong things. Pitiful me, not how beautiful my life was.
  • After a dispiriting month that saw University of Georgia basketball becoming something of a dumpster fire, two exciting upset wins this week over Florida and Tennessee have breathed some life into the Dawgs’ season. Yes, there’s still a chance of Georgia making up enough ground to get into the Big Dance. Senior forward Yante Maten has been one of the few bright spots this season for the Bulldogs. (Steffenie Burns/UGA) But, if it doesn’t happen, another promising Georgia basketball season will have fallen short of expectations, despite three wins over ranked teams. That would leave coach Mark Fox with a measly two first-round-and-out NCAA Tournament appearances, and no SEC Championship Game appearances, in nine years at Georgia. Barring some sort of miracle run to finish the season, the Fox hot-seat talk likely will intensify. And, as usual, his relative strengths and weaknesses make it difficult to come to a clear-cut conclusion on which is the better path forward for the UGA basketball program:  Should Georgia continue to exercise patience with Fox, who runs a clean program, graduates his players, and has had four 20-win or better seasons in Athens, never a hotbed of basketball success? Or, does Fox’s slim postseason record — especially in comparison with what other SEC “football” schools have done — mean UGA should cut and run? Seems like we were having this discussion just about a year ago and, in fact, we were. It was early last March that Yahoo Sports quoted sources as saying UGA was “exploring its options” to replace Fox and “gathering information on potential successors.” Athletic director Greg McGarity quickly shot down the “unfounded rumors” and announced Fox would be back this season. But, despite preseason predictions that Georgia was almost a lock for an NCAA Tournament berth, and the Dawgs getting off to a relatively strong 9-2 start in the nonconference portion of the schedule, Fox’s team is a disappointing 15-11 overall and 6-8 in the conference. Included in that loss column are some really ugly games, most notably losing by 15 to Vanderbilt, one of the worst teams in the SEC. Senior forward Yante Maten leads the conference in scoring, but Fox has not come up with a satisfactory replacement for the departed J.J. Frazier in the back court, leading to streaky offensive production. And, even the normally stout Georgia defense has faltered in some recent losses. Fox’s reputation as a game strategist also has come into question over the past couple of years. “I know it’s frustrating to our fans. I’ll take full responsibility,” Fox said after the Vanderbilt loss. “I can’t get this group right now to play as hard and as effectively as we need to.” Georgia has been selling out games at Stegeman Coliseum, despite its mediocre record. (John Kelley/UGA) However, perhaps because of the latest Stegeman Coliseum renovations (with new seats and video screens), the roundball Dawgs have notched their best home attendance mark in several seasons this year, averaging 8,104 over 12 home dates so far, the highest since drawing 8,250 fans per game in 2010-11.  The team’s game Saturday against Tennessee was a sellout, and its game next Saturday against LSU also is sold out, so the Bulldogs are likely to top 8,000 tickets sold per game for the sixth time in the 2000s. Imagine how the Steg would be rocking if Georgia had a really good team! (Those of you over age 30 probably can recall the exciting atmosphere of games in the mid-1990s, starting with the arrival of Tubby Smith.) In some ways, the Fox situation is reminiscent of the debate a couple of years ago over Mark Richt, who won consistently, just not at a high enough level. Only, this is Georgia basketball we’re talking about, so the pressure on McGarity to do something about a program that has plateaued is a whole lot less intense. Even so, Fox’s lack of progress might have made an easy case for ending his run in Athens if it weren’t for the fact that, after years of the Georgia program rarely attracting top-flight talent, the Dawgs actually have put together a 2019 recruiting class that’s currently ranked No. 1 in the nation. Is that reason enough to keep Fox, or do the disappointing results he’s gotten the past two seasons with decently talented lineups argue in favor of making a change? Keep in mind, there’s always the chance that firing Fox at this point might endanger that recruiting class and send 5-star Ashton Hagans and 4-star Elias King  elsewhere. In fact, preserving the recruiting class is the prevailing argument I’ve heard of late for keeping Fox, who has two years remaining on a contract he signed in 2015. (The buyout if Georgia let him go at this point would be $1.1 million.)   As tempting as it might be, keeping a coach in order to hold on to recruits is a dangerous game. What happens if Kentucky whiffs on someone and swoops in at the last minute to snatch one of Georgia’s commitments? Then you’re stuck with the same old, same old. Assistant coach Jonas Hayes (center) has been mentioned as a possible successor to Mark Fox. (Steffenie Burns/UGA) On the other hand, there’s no guarantee Georgia could do better than Fox. Let’s face it, head basketball coach at UGA, which doesn’t have much of a basketball history, is a pretty middling job — and always will be in the shadow of the head football coach. Hoping for some outside perspective, I put the question to a diehard Kentucky basketball booster I know named Herb. He said he really respects Fox and thinks he deserves more time. Still, Herb noted, “Georgia’s a big school. It can compete with the best of them. It certainly can recruit with the best of them. It ought to be doing better in basketball.” As for the idea of keeping Fox, m y buddy Owen, a lifelong UGA fan, thinks that “if we finish strong, I could see giving Fox one more year.” But, he said, “If we continue to bomb out and miss the NCAA, it would be hard to justify keeping him.” Another UGA fan, Joel, noted that, “ Since UGA basketball is a WAY distant second to football, for me at least, I say give him a chance to coach the upcoming recruiting class. I was firmly of the belief that Fox would never get it done, but that was mainly because of his mediocre recruiting. I’m not sure what is wrong with this year’s team; it’s a fairly talented bunch. But, I think we can be patient and see how he fares with some elite talent. If we were talking football, it would be past time for him to be fired.” For other fans, there’s no question a change is needed — now. Said my brother Tim, “ It’s down to this for me: Fox is a terrible game coach, and not much of practice coach, either. He can have five blue-chip players and they’d still lose games, because they wouldn’t know what to do in pressure situations.” My son Bill, who has degrees from both UGA and North Carolina (where basketball rules), also thinks “it’s pretty clear that Fox cannot orchestrate an offense that is workable. Every year is the same plodding offense without much shooting prowess or good shot selection. They usually play pretty good defense, and they seem to try hard consistently. But, offensive skill is always lacking. And his personnel/sub management is sometimes baffling. We’ve been passed by a lot of programs this year.” If Fox stays, Bill said, “it’s because of the recruits and, frankly, Kirby’s success giving everyone else some breathing room.”  If a change is made, many observers think Georgia stands little chance of stealing a head coach from a top-level program. So, what should McGarity do? Should he go with another rising coach from a mid-major, or an assistant from a top program (as he did in football, hiring Kirby Smart from Alabama). Blawg reader Jim P. likes the idea of “hiring a top assistant, great recruiter, from a proven championship program, such as Duke, North Carolina.” Actually, the natural successor to Fox already might be on Georgia’s bench: former Bulldogs player Jonas Hayes, who is UGA’s main basketball recruiter and probably would have more of a chance of hanging on to that 2019 class. Any way you look at it, there are no easy answers. As for me, I’ve always liked Fox, and thought it was recruiting difficulties holding him back. But, with those less of a factor now, his game coaching does seem to be more and more in question. His team this season was expected to be his best, and it started out pretty good, but, too often, it hasn’t held on to leads and, hasn’t even stayed in the game against some lesser teams.  What will it take to generate excitement around the UGA basketball program? (Nicole Adamson/UGA) Still, as my old friend Dan said, the past two games are very encouraging, with Fox making greater use of his freshmen. Would another couple of big wins be enough, or does Fox have to make the NCAA Tournament to survive? I don’t know. My gut feeling is that Fox might squeak by this year, but I’m not sure that he should. I worry that, if a stellar recruiting class buys him another year, it still might not produce much more in the way of sustained success than did the extra year Dennis Felton got thanks to the “tornado tournament” win. What concerns me more is that I’ve encountered quite a few UGA diehards who tell me basketball has completely fallen off their radar: “Let’s talk about Jake Fromm and Justin Fields instead.” That’s a shame. I’m convinced that, if Georgia could put a consistently winning product on the court, Dawgs fans once again would be excited about the program, and basketball might truly matter at UGA. Maybe that still can happen with Fox.  The post Is top 2019 recruiting class reason enough for UGA to keep Mark Fox? appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS – It was a rather general, and predictable, question. And Mark Fox decided to use it to say something on his mind. Something the Georgia head coach evidently had read and didn’t like. Was there any moment a week ago, when all seemed lost, that he could pinpoint that a bounce-back was coming? Fox, as he often does, offered up a preamble before answering. A pointed preamble. “I know some people don’t like our players. I mean some of you, don’t like our players,” Fox said, speaking slowly to reporters gathered after his team’s 73-62 win over Tennessee. “But I love them. And this league is a monster. And you’re going to have ups and downs. We had a couple of games where we didn’t play well. They stuck together, and just kept trying to get better and play the game the right way. “We didn’t make any drastic changes. We just kept doing what we do. And this week they were able to play sound basketball and beat two really good teams. So even though some of you don’t like them, I was pretty proud of them.” Well then. Afterwards a few beat writers quickly consulted and try to figure out what Fox was referencing. No one was quite sure. This particular reporter actually wrote a week ago that this may be Fox’s most talented team, which made the team’s record at that point – 13-11, losers of eight of their past 10 games – so disappointing. This past week has not fixed everything. But the Bulldogs did exactly what they had to do, getting two good wins, including on paper their best win over the season, over No. 18 Tennessee. That followed an overtime win over Florida. “We’re a good basketball team. We proved that this week,” Georgia senior forward Yante Maten said. But what took so long into the season for that to happen? “I mean, if I knew the answer to that question it would have never happened,” Maten said. “We’re just trying to play together, play as a team. Play defensively, try to do everything that correlates to winning.” It’s almost not worth pointing out Georgia’s NCAA tournament resume’, because at this point we don’t know which team we’re going to get one week to the other. But if Georgia can keep this going – and the schedule is definitely manageable – then the Bulldogs will definitely be in the mix: Georgia now has five “Quadrant 1” wins, per the NCAA’s revised formula. (Home wins over top 30 RPI teams, neutral-site wins over top 50 teams, and away wins over top 75 wins), and four “Quadrant 2” wins. Georgia’s own RPI is in the 60s. It still may not be very likely now. But it’s a lot likelier than it was a week ago. “This was a quality win for us. This was solid week,” Fox said. “But there’s more games in front. We’ve got to get ready for the next one.” That would be at South Carolina, which helped get the slide going with a seven-point win on Georgia’s home floor on Jan. 13. The Gamecocks are not the same team that made the Final Four last year. They did beat Auburn on Saturday, but they are definitely beatable – and Georgia needs to do it to keep the run going. The margin for error is very small. Maten and his teammates seemed to realize that. “We’ve just got to focus on the next game and still play with that hunger we played this week with,” Maten said. “Every time we touched the court this week we were really hungry, and we showed that to ourselves, to the crowd and to the coaches. So we’ve just got to keep playing hungry.”   The post Georgia gets back on track, and Mark Fox has pointed words for the press appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS – Yante Maten still has life in his Georgia career. So does Mark Fox. Their Georgia men’s basketball team, assumed done for a week ago, is trying to work its way back into the thick of things. Georgia got its second straight win, and its third this year over a ranked team, this time 73-62 over No. 17 Tennessee on Saturday night at Stegeman Coliseum. The Bulldogs (15-11 overall, 6-8 in the SEC) now head for the final two weeks of the regular season with their fleeting postseason hopes still alive. They appeared done this time last week, but bounced back first with an upset win at Florida, and then another NCAA tournament resume’ win on Saturday. Maten did his usual part. But, as the case with Georgia’s other big wins this year, he had help from key players. And the biggest two were from bench players. Derek Ogbeide had a double-double, making a number of put-backs and grabbing numerous key rebounds, both offensive and defense. Tyree Crump hit several key 3s down the stretch. He also grabbed the rebound in the final minute that basically sealed the win, and sent the appreciative home crowd to its feet. Three who mattered Maten. The senior forward also moved to sixth on Georgia’s all-time list for field goals, passing Alec Kessler. Ogbeide: The junior forward, coming off the bench again, had a great game underneath. Ogbeide was responsible for a number of put-backs, saving several key possessions for the Bulldogs. And his three-point play stemmed a Tennessee run with just over five minutes left. Crump: The sophomore guard also came off the bench and played extensive minutes, especially down the stretch. He hit two keys 3s, one to make it 57-51 and the next to give UGA a 62-54 lead with just under two minutes left. Turning point Georgia, after leading since early in the game, was on the verge of losing the lead with about six minutes left. Tennessee missed several shots and committed a turnoer. On the other end Ogbeide made a layup while being fouled, and finished with the free throw. Then Crump buried a 3, and Ogbeide added a put-back to make it 59-51. Tennessee didn’t ever geet back within one possession. Observations Lineup: Georgia used the same starting lineup – with two freshmen forwards – for the third straight game. It was the third straight start for Rayshaun Hammonds, and the fourth straight for Nicolas Claxton. But Ogbeide and Crump, who have started this season, have continued to star off the bench.   Free throws: Georgia benefitted from an enormous free throw disparity: 38 to just 15 for Tennessee. The Volunteers’ leading scorer entering the game, forward Grant Williams, had foul trouble in the second half and fouled out with just under two minutes left. Only Maten at the start. Maten scored 11 of Georgia’s first 13 points, and it took more than 10 minutes (the 9:41 mark) for someone else to score. But when others got going, so did Georgia, which pulled out to a 19-11 lead. At that point he picked up his second foul and came out. Surviving (barely) without Maten. MAfter’s Maten’s exit, Tennessee almost immediately hit two straight 3s to make it 21-18. Maten re-enetered at 2:15 then left after a couple possessions. He stayed out until halftime, when Tennessee whittled it down to 28-26. But Maten stayed out of foul trouble in the second half. Worth mentioning It was Georgia’s third win this season over a team that was ranked at the time: The Bulldogs also knocked off then-No. 21 St. Mary’s and then No. 23 Florida, which was unranked when UGA beat the Gators a second time on Wednesday. What’s next Georgia plays at South Carolina on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. The Bulldogs lost at home to the Gamecocks in January, 64-57. The post Georgia basketball: Resurgent Bulldogs get second straight key win appeared first on DawgNation.
  • The Georgia Bulldogs’ run to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game wouldn’t have been possible without the work of Kirby Smart’s staff. And now they’re going to be compensated because of it. Smart’s 10 on-field assistants will earn nearly $2 million more in 2018 than they did in 2017. In 2017, Smart’s assistants made $4.56 million. In 2018, they’ll make $6.42 million. Defensive Coordinator Mel Tucker has received a raise to $1.5 million, up from $900,000 last year. Georgia’s defense was one of the best in the country this past season. Assistant coach James Coley, who is expected to move from receivers coach to another position, has been bumped to $850,000 from $450,000 last year. Coley turned down a job offer from Texas A&M to become offensive coordinator. Offensive line coach Sam Pittman will now earn $825,000, after earning $660,000 last year.  Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney received a $100,000 raise and will now earn $950,000. Strength and conditioning coordinator Scott Sinclair also received a significant bump and will now earn $450,000. Sinclair earned $300,000 last year.  2018 staff: Mel Tucker - $1,500,000 Jim Chaney - $950,000 James Coley - $850,000 Sam Pittman - $825,000 Dell McGee - $550,000 Tray Scott - $420,000 Cortez Hankton - $375,000 Glenn Schumann - $325,000 Dan Lanning - $325,000 Scott Fountain - $300,000  2017 staff:  Mel Tucker - $900,000 Jim Chaney - $850,000 Sam Pittman - $660,000 James Coley - $450,000 Tray Scott - $400,000 Kevin Sherrer - $375,000 Dell McGee - $350,000 Shane Beamer - $300,000 Glenn Schumann - $275,000 Smart himself is expected to receive a substantial increase from his $3.75 million base salary, but that has not been announced yet.  New roles and titles on the staff could also be in order, but were not announced.  Georgia’s salary rule compares favorably with that of the staffs of two other powerhouse programs, who have also announced their assistant coach salaries for 2018.  Ohio State’s assistant coaches now make $7.06 million, with raises this offseason that totaled $3.4 million. So it nearly doubled, helped by the addition of the 10th assistant coach, Alex Grinch, who received $800,000 to leave Washington State for Ohio State.  Eight of Ohio State’s 10 assistants are earning at least $500,000.  The salary pool for Clemson’s assistant coaches is now $6.58 million, with raises this offseason of just under $1 million. Four of Clemson’s assistant coaches are earning at least $500,000. This article was written by Seth Emerson, DawgNation.