Friday night, the newcomers showed signs they might be able to handle it. Led by first-year forward Jeremy Price, Georgia beat Jacksonville State 107-65 in its season-opener.
A Stegeman Coliseum crowd of 7,446 watched as Price, a 6-foot-8, 270-pounder from Decatur, scored 18 points and grabbed five rebounds in his collegiate debut.
Price filled the role that was expected to be taken by senior Takais Brown, but Brown was kicked off the team two weeks ago. If Price keeps it up, Brown soon will be a distant memory.
â€œI wasnâ€™t surprised,â€ he said. â€œI needed to get my feet wet and get on the court. Once I got going, it was pretty good from there on out.â€
He hit seven of the nine shots he took and scored eight points in a 21-0 Georgia run that started the second half and turned a six-point game into a laugher.
Georgia (1-0), which plays Grambling State at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Stegeman Coliseum, scored its most points since Nov. 27, 1999, when it had 113 against Grambling State, and most in a season-opener since 1980, when it had 108 against Troy State.
Jacksonville State (0-1), a member of the Ohio Valley Conference that finished 9-21 last year, didnâ€™t score its first second half point until the 13:32 mark and by that time already trailed 68-41.
With junior guard Mike Mercer and sophomore forward Albert Jackson beginning the year on the bench due to suspensions, all of Georgiaâ€™s freshmen got a chance to contribute. The Bulldogs got a combined 54 points, 25 rebounds and 96 minutes out of first-year players.
â€œIâ€™m glad we were able to open up and have a comfort level to play them more minutes and let them make plenty of mistakes and still keep them on the floor,â€ Felton said.
Freshman point guard Zac Swansey played 16 minutes in the first half after senior starter Sundiata Gaines picked up two fouls in the gameâ€™s first four minutes.
â€œZac came in and played really well and didnâ€™t give our team any reason to panic,â€ Felton said.
Freshman Jeremy Jacobs had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Starting center Rashaad Singleton, a junior, had 16 points and 10 rebounds.