Georgia head coach Mark Fox has mentioned the value of "resumé games" to his team ever since the Bulldogs tipped off preseason drills way back last October.
In other words, it's the type of contest where the outcome can have a direct effect on several levels - seeding in the upcoming SEC Tournament, as well whether or not one qualifies for the 68-team field in the NCAAs.
"Oh sure, been talking about that with them all year because it's just not the last six games," Fox said Tuesday. "It's the games in November that matter, the games in December that matter, so it's something that we've talked about."
With six games to go in the regular season, Wednesday night's game against 18th-ranked Vanderbilt (7:02 p.m., ESPNU) certainly qualifies as well.
In case you haven't followed the scrum that is the SEC Eastern Division, the Bulldogs (17-7, 6-4) find themselves tied with the Commodores (18-6, 6-4) for second place behind Florida.
Not only would a victory put Georgia in sole possession of the second spot with five games to go, it would also put Fox's squad one step closer to a coveted berth in the NCAAs.
"We knew last Saturday there was going to be some movement. Last Saturday was the only day where all the Eastern teams played just the Eastern Division. There was no crossover, and that's the last Saturday where that happens," Fox said. "Right now we're all bunched in a group for second place and at the end of the day somebody else is going to be there and somebody else is not. But most of our focus is the next game and if we just focus on the next game all these other things will take care of itself."
But for a team not used to being in this particular situation, Fox remains wary as to how they will handle the spotlight as it continues to grow.
"I'll be honest, the first time I talked with them about a 'resumé game' which was back in August, I'm not sure they knew what that was," Fox said. "So they haven't been in this position before. That's not their fault. But it is the first time and being able to manage that is certainly a challenge."
Junior guard Gerald Robinson Jr. said Fox has done a pretty good job of meeting that challenge.
"We know you can't look ahead. It's all about focusing on that one game you're playing that day," Robinson Jr. said. "If you focus on that one game, everything else will take care of itself."
A victory would also boost the Bulldogs' all-important RPI.
Georgia currently has the league's fifth-highest RPI, coming into play at No. 39, behind Florida (12), Kentucky (14), Vanderbilt (15) and Tennessee (25).
Ironically, all five teams are in the SEC East.
But Fox certainly isn't counting any chickens just yet.
"By no way do we think we're a lock for the tournament," said Fox, who added that maintaining that type of attitude will likely serve his team well as they push toward the SEC Tournament three weeks from now in Atlanta.
"It's all about staying grounded, listening to the inside voices and not to those on the outside," Fox said. "There are a lot of people with all answers and no solutions. We have to stay on the same page and we have to continue to try to be the team we're capable of and take it one game at a time, simple as that.
"We can't get caught up in the wildness that comes with it. It's a great part of the college game but we've got to be able to deal with it."
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