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Georgia-Ole Miss Preview: Can UGA Find Its Old Form?

If the Bulldogs plan to win, they're going to have to step it up.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia at Ole Miss | 9 p.m. ET | SEC Network

On January 20, Georgia edged out Ole Miss 69-64. Since then, the teams have gone in separate directions.

The Rebels are 8-1 in the interim, with the only loss coming by one point to Arkansas. Georgia is just 5-4 over the same time, with the only notable win in there being Texas A&M. The Bulldogs lost to South Carolina twice and to Auburn in their past nine, and they beat Tennessee by just three and needed overtime to beat Alabama by one.

Late in that first contest between the teams, the big players came up differently. For Georgia, J.J. Frazier scored eight points in the final 5:14, including hitting a pair of three pointers. Marcus Thornton got a key steal with 1:30 to go. Charles Mann drew a charge not long after, and he made a game icing pair of free throws with 16 seconds to go. For Ole Miss, Stefan Moody was the victim of Thornton's steal, and he missed a pair of three point attempts in the final minute. Jarvis Summers picked up the charge that Mann drew, and he too missed a shot late.

Those players have fared differently in recent action. Moody has hit 14 three pointers combined in his past two games, and he hasn't had two consecutive sub-50% shooting nights since January. Summers's scoring has fallen off some, but he's averaged six assists a night in the past month versus just two turnovers a game.

Thornton hasn't found double digits in scoring in the five games since his concussion, and Frazier barely registered anything in the box score other than free throws in his one game back from a concussion of his own. Mann has tried stepping up his contributions; he has as many games with nine field goal attempts since Thornton's first missed game on 1/31 as he had the entire season up to then. Alas, he failed to hit his season shooting percentage in four of those five games.

Without Thornton returning to old form, it's hard to see Georgia prevailing tonight. He was a difference maker in the first game, scoring 16 points, hauling in five rebounds, and blocking three shots. It was a game where Georgia had balance, with four players scoring in double figures and sharing the load. In each of the Bulldogs' four recent losses, only two players made double figures, and the bench contributed little in two of them.

Meanwhile, Moody has become a straight up assassin. Despite the late game mishaps in Round 1, he torched the Bulldogs in January for 26 points. He easily could have had more if not for an uncharacteristically poor night from behind the three point line, where he made just two of his nine attempts. If any Rebels can give him some backup, like Summers scoring 13 to Moody's 22 in Saturday's win over Tennessee, that might just be enough if UGA can't break out of its recent funk.

Georgia could really use this win to put a decently solid floor under its recent fall, but especially with the game in Oxford, it's going to be tough to pull out the victory.