ST. LOUIS — Here is what Georgia coach Mark Fox said Wednesday night after his team beat Vanderbilt 78-62 to advance to today’s game against Missouri with the winner then facing Kentucky Friday at about 3:30 p.m. EST.
Q. Michael Porter has played, I think, two minutes this season for Missouri. Obviously, everyone saw him in the AAU circuit and summer circuit type thing. What is it like to prepare for a Missouri team that’s going to throw him in for the first time since November?
MARK FOX: Well, the challenge is I’m not even sure what position they’ll play him at. He’s a very versatile player, and I’m thankful that the kid’s gotten healthy because he was a terrific talent. Could be, obviously, a very highly picked kid one day when he goes to the draft. He’ll be a top five selection. I remember watching him in high school, and he’s as complete of a player as there was at that level. So we’re not sure, as I think about it right now, where they would even play him because he has such great versatility.
So our preparation will have to be somewhat generic because, until we see what they’re doing with him, we really don’t know.
Q. Coach, the first time against Vanderbilt, you seemed displeased with the defensive effort that you all put forth. Just what do you think was the biggest difference tonight in that department?
MARK FOX: Our team was in a bad place when we went to Vanderbilt. We had a stretch where we didn’t guard anybody, not just Vandy. We didn’t guard Mississippi State. We didn’t guard Vandy. We just didn’t — we weren’t playing well at the time defensively. We’ve grown up a lot since then, and so I think really just the fact that we’re, you know, just a little bit more seasoned and we understand our roles now a little better and we just certainly executed the plan much better than we did in Game 1 because, really, to be honest with you, it was the exact same thing we tried to do in the first game.
Q. Mark, it seems like a common denominator in really good games for you guys, this one, the Tennessee win is everyone besides Yante also having a good game. Is there anything to contribute to that? Is it effort? Is it matchup based? What happens when everyone is playing well?
MARK FOX: We had three freshmen play well tonight. They played a lot this season. Freshmen are going to be up and down. So that’s part of it. Our premier players have been a little bit inconsistent, and that consistency certainly is something we’ve tried to overcome.
But tonight we had a lot of guys play well, and that’s really important for us to have some of the guys chip in besides Yante because he’s been pretty consistent all year. We knew tonight he was going to get double-teamed, and it’s a good play for us when people trap him because we know where to — he knows where to put the ball, and we know what to do against a post trap.
But you’re right. We need guys to play well around him, and that was key for us tonight.
Q. Coach, what was Missouri able to do effectively against Yante in that first meeting? Few teams have been able to limit him to what he did in that game.
MARK FOX: I thought Mizzou did a really good job defending us in Game 1. We played a good first half, both teams very physical; and in the second half, they wore us down. Really, I thought their physicality in the second half got the better of us in Columbia.
Q. Just kind of following up, you mentioned the physicality wearing you all down. Did the emergence of those three freshmen you talked about against the physicality given the depth that you guys are starting to establish now?
MARK FOX: I hope it will help us. Again, they have to become consistent and playing in a way that contributes to winning. We’ve got to stay off the roller coaster, and hopefully we can do that.