ATHENS, Ga. -- Mark Fox didn’t exactly give a straight answer Wednesday when asked whether last Saturday’s upset win against No. 16 Florida brought a new confidence to his team.
“A win Thursday would give you great confidence,” Fox said with a grin.
The possibility of Fox’s Georgia club (13-15, 4-10 SEC) winning Thursday’s 9 p.m. ET game at Kentucky is not necessarily laughable, but it certainly seems unlikely.
The top-ranked Wildcats (28-1, 14-0) own the nation’s longest home winning streak at 51 games and beat Vanderbilt on Saturday to claim the program’s 45th SEC crown.
A possible glimmer of hope is that Georgia is actually the last team to win at Kentucky’s Rupp Arena. Guided by interim coach Pete Hermann -- who took over when Dennis Felton was fired in late January -- the Bulldogs stunned the Wildcats 90-85 on March 4, 2009.
That will mean very little on Thursday night, Fox said.
“The only thing I’ve mentioned is that we’ll be one of the few teams to go in there that has a player that’s won there before,” Fox said, referring to senior guard Dustin Ware, who scored 18 points in that surprise win on Kentucky’s senior day. “But that has nothing to do with the game, so outside of one statement, we haven’t said anything else about it.”
This Kentucky team is far different than that Billy Gillispie-coached bunch that finished 8-8 in SEC play, leading to Gillispie’s ouster and John Calipari’s hiring.
These Wildcats sit at or near the top of the SEC rankings in nearly every significant statistical category. Most importantly, they are the league’s top scoring team (77.8 ppg) and rank second in scoring defense (58.8 ppg). Their plus-19 scoring margin also leads the SEC by a wide margin.
“They’ve just dominated this league. … This team arguably could be undefeated,” Fox said.
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, have improved significantly since January with wins in the last month against Arkansas, Mississippi State and Florida. Regardless of whether his team pulls off a massive upset in Lexington, Fox likes the way the Bulldogs have attacked the task of progressing throughout the course of the season.
“One thing about this team, they haven’t stopped the process of trying to get better,” Fox said. “They have not discontinued the mission of getting better each day and each week, so any win would help. Every win would help.”