GEORGIA MEN’S PREVIEW

GEORGIA

Season opener: vs. Georgia Tech, 7 p.m. Nov. 14

SEC opener: vs. Arkansas, 7 p.m., Jan. 6

2013-14 record: 20-14, 12-6 SEC

Previous game: Lost to Louisiana Tech 79-71, March 22 in the second round of the NIT.

2013-14 recap: The Bulldogs got off to a slow start, losing four of their first give games as they adjusted to playing without NBA lottery pick Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. But they turned it around in SEC play, shocking No. 21 Missouri with a 70-64 road win in the league opener and then going 8-1 at home the rest of the way. A late January swoon, fueled by injuries to Kenny Gaines and Juwan Parker, led to consecutive losses to Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Auburn, and might've been the difference in not earning an NCAA tournament berth. As it was, Georgia tied Kentucky for second in the SEC and was a high seed in the NIT.

Reasons for optimism: The Bulldogs return three starters and eight of their top 10 scorers from last season, including point guard Charles Mann, forward Marcus Thornton and Gaines. The 6-foot-5 Mann, a junior, is Georgia's best overall player and the man through which everything runs. His specialty is driving to the basket and getting to the free-throw line, where he shot 70 percent and led the SEC with 278 attempts. The Bulldogs brought in Yante Maten, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound power forward and four-star prospect from Detroit, who is expected to provide immediate help with scoring and rebounding in the paint.

Reasons for pessimism: Coach Mark Fox might have gone overboard in his zest to build a more competitive schedule. Georgia's nonconference slate includes road games at Georgia Tech and Kansas State, appearances against Gonzaga and Minnesota or St. Johns in the NIT Tip-Off in New York and home games against Colorado and Seton Hall. In conference play, the Bulldogs drew road games at LSU, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Alabama and Ole Miss. Meanwhile, Georgia also lost one of its best if not unsung players on last season's team. Brandon Morris, a 6-7 small forward who would have been a junior, was dismissed from the team after a marijuana arrest during the summer. He transferred to California State-Bakersfield.