Auburn at Georgia
WHERE: Stegeman Coliseum
WHEN: Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.
RECORDS: Georgia 17-12, 8-8; Auburn 17-12, 6-0
TV/RADIO: SEC Network (Tom Hart, Daymeon Fishback); Georgia Bulldog Radio Network (Scott Howard, Chuck Dowdle, Tony Schiavone); SIRIUS/XM (145/190)
Projected Starting Lineup
G Fr. Jared Harper (11.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg)
G Soph. Bryce Brown (7.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg)
F Fr. Mustapha Heron (15.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg)
F Fr. Daniel Purifoy (11.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
C Austin Wiley (8.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
G Soph. Turtle Jackson (3.9 ppg, 1.1 rpg)
G Sr. J.J. Frazier (18.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
G Jr. Juwan Parker (9.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg)
F Soph. E’Torrion Wilridge (1.7 ppg, 1.3 rpg)
F Soph. Derek Ogbeide (7.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg)
Tuesday had an unusual feel for Georgia’s Kenny Paul Geno.
On one hand, it felt the same as countless pre-game practice sessions the Mississippi native had experienced numerous times before. But on the other, knowing Wednesday night’s contest against Auburn (6:30, SEC Network) would be the last scheduled home affair for Geno – one of four Bulldog seniors - made it, well, different.
“It’s a weird feeling, especially coming into today when we’re getting ready to watch film, Coach (Mark) Fox walks in and says the seniors have media today,” Geno said. “It’s a very weird feeling that today’s the last practice in Stegeman, the last home game … it’s just a weird feeling. It will be little sad, but we’ve got a job to do and we’ve got to get these two wins.”
A native of Booneville, Mississippi, Geno, J.J. Frazier, Houston Kessler and Brandon Young will each play their final regular-season home game at Stegeman Coliseum, a contest the Bulldogs (17-12, 8-8) desperately need to win to keep their NCAA hopes alive.
“Four games ago we kind of just said we control our own destiny,” said Geno, who has averaged 9.5 minutes in 25 games played this year. “We knew we had a great strength of schedule. We knew we blew some games, but we still felt we controlled our own destiny. We’re focused really hard on getting a big win (Wednesday night).”
Ditto for Kessler.
The son of former Bulldog letterman Chad Kessler (1983-87), Houston Kessler is the longest tenured member of the Georgia program, having redshirted as a freshman during the 2012-2013 season.
While the 6.2 minutes he’s averaged is the fewest he’s played since his sophomore year, Kessler said he’s treasured the time he’s gotten to live out his dream as a member of the Bulldogs.
Like the rest of his teammates, he’s seen his share of dramatic moments, such as Saturday’s win over LSU when Frazier sank a pair of free throws with 1.6 seconds left to avoid an upset to the Tigers.
“During those final seconds, you’re really thinking about is how are you going to win the ball game at that moment, and then afterwards kind of assess where you are at,” said Kessler, who agrees with Geno that a spot in the NCAA Tournament is not out of the question.
“I think we believe that we were a tournament team even when we were not getting mentioned,” Kessler said. “Obviously, we hear about it but we’re just focused on winning the next game.”
Young – a former walk-on – said his past four years on the team have been very surreal, capped off by the scholarship he was awarded by Fox right before his final season.
“From the first day, I stepped foot on campus, even as walk-on I felt totally welcomed by everyone and by the coaches,” said Young, who hasn’t played in a game since Georgia’s win at Georgia Tech back in December. “I bonded well with everybody, and to get that scholarship was one of the coolest things that’s ever happened in my life. It’s really been something special.”