Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

TOP OF THE HEAP Tied for Top 'Dog Harrick Looks like a Winner Again at UGA

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

TOP OF THE HEAP Tied for Top 'Dog Harrick Looks like a Winner Again at UGA

Article excerpt

ATHENS, Ga. -- Jim Harrick relaxed in his courtside chair, a satisfied look on his face, a tiny "G" pinned to his jacket. Suddenly, he seemed to fit right in at Georgia.

"The pieces are falling into place," said the 62-year-old coach, nodding confidently while glancing down at a stat sheet documenting the Bulldogs' latest victory.

Harrick wore a pained look most of last season. He went back-and-forth on his decision to come south and then endured Georgia's worst year in more than two decades: 3-13 in the Southeastern Conference, 10-20 overall.

But Harrick has always been a winner, whether at Pepperdine, UCLA or Rhode Island. It appears his streak will remain intact at Georgia, which already has more victories than all of last season.

More importantly, Harrick's team is tied for the Southeastern Conference lead with sixth-ranked Tennessee.

"I like the sound of that: first place in the SEC," he said.

It's still early, of course, but this is one of the most improved college basketball teams in the country. For the first time in school history, the Bulldogs (11-7, 4-1 SEC) posted back-to-back victories on the road against ranked teams, upsetting No. 19 Mississippi and No. 14 Florida.

Georgia moved into a tie for first by defeating undermanned LSU 68-63 Sunday. It wasn't pretty -- the Bulldogs committed 10 turnovers before halftime and got a cumulative 6-of-21 effort from their two best outside shooters, D.A. Layne and Ezra Williams.

But they persevered in the second half, taking better care of the ball (only two turnovers) and scoring 11-of-13 baskets from inside the foul line.

"Coach told us if we had played that same kind of game a year ago, we would have lost by 20," said Williams, who had a key steal and basket with less than a minute to go. "The players matured a lot over the summer. We figured out how to win."

Williams has made a huge difference too. …

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