Before tipoff against Vanderbilt, the Bulldogs announced the one-game suspensions of freshmen standouts Billy Humphrey and Mike Mercer and a serious back injury suffered by freshman Terrance Woodbury.
The combined casualties left Georgia with just eight scholarship players against the Commodores, a painful reminder of the 2004 and 2005 seasons, when the Bulldogs played with seven scholarship players most nights. And, just like in those lean years, Georgia lost, 72-55 to the Commodores.
Mercer, who had started the last four games and is averaging 11 points per game, and Humphrey, who is averaging 8.5 points per game, were suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules.
Woodbury, a 6-foot-6 wing player who started five games this year and averaged 5.6 points in the 13 overall games he played in, will miss the remainder of the season due to a stress fracture in his back. Georgia announced on Friday that freshman forward Kendrick Johnson also will miss the rest of the season due to chronic ankle injuries.
The Bulldogs, who trailed by as many as 20 points in the second half, were led by Levi Stukes’ 15 points. Younes Idrissi had 12. Georgia has lost three straight and five of its last seven.
Vanderbilt, which improved to 14-10 overall and 5-7 in the SEC, was led by Shan Foster’s 23 points.
The loss means Georgia (14-11, 4-8) must win its remaining four regular season games to reach 18 wins, the plateau Felton thinks will get the Bulldogs into the NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection.
The night was supposed to be about the more pleasant parts of team lore. Hugh Durham, the school’s winningest coach, was recognized at halftime and received a standing ovation from most of the 7,537 fans in Stegeman Coliseum.
Durham addressed the fans at halftime.
“The only thing we remember is the roof,” said Durham in reference to the recent renovations at Stegeman. “The rest of this place is fantastic.”
The Bulldogs wore jerseys from the earliest years of Durham’s tenure as part of the SEC’s “Throwback” program. All 12 conference schools wore retro jerseys Saturday and will again next week.