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Felton's status uncertain as season ends

POSTED: March 17, 2008 5:00 a.m.

ATHENS — Georgia snapped a five-game losing streak when it took its first road SEC victory of the year on Wednesday night at Auburn, but there was no word Thursday how the win might impact coach Dennis Felton’s job status.

Georgia is 13-15 overall and 4-11 in the Southeastern Conference with one regular-season game left on Saturday against Mississippi.

Georgia athletic director Damon Evans traveled to Auburn for Wednesday night’s game, sitting behind the Georgia bench. When asked if his appearance at the game had anything to do with his review of Felton, Evans said he was only taking advantage of the opportunity to watch the game.

“I go to road games every now and then and Auburn was one I could make,” Evans said Thursday in a telephone interview from Nashville, where he attended the Lady Bulldogs’ game Thursday night in the first round of the SEC women’s tournament.

“I wanted to go watch our team and root our team on and I’m glad we got a victory,” said Evans of his decision to fly to Auburn Wednesday night.

There have been fewer wins than expected for Georgia, as Felton lost players to suspensions, injuries and other reasons.

Until this season, Felton had the Georgia program on a steady upward path, including 19 wins and a berth in the National Invitation Tournament last year.

But Felton kicked starters Takais Brown and Mike Mercer off the team before they could play a game. Brown was the top inside player and Mercer was the team’s most athletic guard. They ranked as two of the team’s top three scorers.

Two freshmen, Jeremy Jacob and Chris Barnes, were lost to season-ending injuries. Another top reserve, Rashaad Singleton, quit the team after he lost a starting job to freshman Jeremy Price.

Meanwhile, guard Billy Humphrey is back in the lineup after arrests in separate incidents for underage possession of alcohol and having a small knife in his dorm room. Humphrey has also missed time with a knee injury.

Evans has not given any insight how he will factor in the injuries, suspensions and dismissals when he evaluates Felton, who is 71-78 in five years.

“As always I’ll sit down with our head basketball coach at the end of the year,” Evans said Thursday. “We do everything in totality and until such time there is nothing more to be said.”

Saturday’s game will be the final home game for seniors David Bliss, the starting center, and Sundiata Gaines, the team’s leading scorer and top overall player.

“They’ve been a big, big part of bringing a program off the mat and bringing it to relevancy,” Felton said Thursday. “I’m disappointed for them that we ended up taking a step backward this year after so much progress, but also I think they understand it’s more a bump in the road than just a lack of progress.”
Evans has not said if he believes the losing season is a bump in the road or an indication that Felton cannot lift the program to the NCAA tournament.

Felton speaks with much enthusiasm about this year’s signees, including highly recruited forward Howard Thompkins of Norcross and Dustin Ware of Kennesaw.



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