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Hayes, Thomas carry Georgia in overtime

3/9/2003

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Georgia coach Jim Harrick is trying to
keep the attention on his team.

He complains about having the third-best record in the
Southeastern Conference, but still having to play in the
tournament's first round. And Harrick praised his 25th-ranked
Bulldogs for their 60-55 overtime victory against South Carolina on
Sunday.

Still, everything seems to come back to allegations made by
former player Tony Cole that Georgia's basketball program gave him
extra benefits and committed academic improprieties on his behalf.

"I'm deeply saddened this happened," Harrick said. "I love
Georgia."

The Bulldogs (19-8, 11-5) have won twice in three games since
the allegations broke. Georgia beat No. 3 Florida 83-81 on Tuesday
night.

After Sunday's game, Harrick refused to answer any questions
about his future with the Bulldogs. Georgia guard Ezra Williams
said the team has not discussed whether Harrick will be let go.

Harrick said he told his players the allegations were now in the
past and they should just focus on the SEC tournament and Georgia's
bid to the NCAA Tournament.

"We have to put this behind us," Harrick said. "We are
focusing on nothing but basketball."

Harrick said his players have bonded because of the problems,
even coming on their own to his house on a day off to watch
basketball with him.

"That's my coach," Williams said. "He's like a father to me
since I've been at Georgia so I'm going to give him everything I've
got."

Members of the national media came to hear what Harrick had to
say. Fans jeered the coach before the game and there were yells of
"Cheater!" and "Goodbye Harrick!" as he gave a postgame
interview.

As for the game, Jarvis Hayes and Steve Thomas combined for all
10 Georgia points in overtime as the Bulldogs won in Columbia for
only the second time in 12 games since the Gamecocks (12-15, 5-11)
joined the SEC in 1991.

The Bulldogs trailed 48-37 with 9:49 to go in regulation, but
held South Carolina to just three field goals over the game's final
14:49.

Georgia tied it at 50 on Chris Daniels' free throws with 2:34
left. Dainels had sparked the Bulldogs' 13-2 run with a steal and
dunk immediately after hitting two free throws.

Neither team would score the rest of the second half. South
Carolina lost its chance for a game-winning shot in regulation when
Warren was called for an offensive foul with less than 6 seconds to
go, and Richard Wehunt's 3-pointer from the corner at the buzzer
was off the mark.

Hayes led Georgia with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Thomas
had 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Chris Warren led South Carolina with 14 points, while Tony
Kitchings had 10 points and 13 rebounds and Rolando Howell added 10
points and 11 rebounds.

Harrick's program is answering allegations that his son and
assistant coach, Jim Harrick Jr., provided Cole with $300 to pay a
telephone bill, paid more than $1,200 in hotel bills, had
collegiate course work done for him and gave him an "A" in a
class he never attended.

Georgia has suspended Harrick Jr. and will not rehire him when
his contract expires in the summer.

And at Harrick's old job at Rhode Island, a former employee in
the athletic department has sued the coach, contending she was
sexually harassed and that he broke NCAA rules.

About a dozen reporters listened to Harrick's postgame interview
with the Georgia radio announcers even though the allegations were
never addressed.

Television cameras were trained on him every second outside of
the locker room, including one perched at his feet as he sang along
with the national anthem.

"It certainly takes the fun out of being a basketball coach,"
Harrick said.

Harrick wishes more attention was being paid to his basketball
team. The Bulldogs have won 17 of their last 22 games and could end
up with as high as a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament.

He laughed as a reporter asked him to assess his team's season
outside of the allegations.

"It's been a fabulous year," Harrick said, smiling.

The Bulldogs finished third in the East and will play Arkansas
on Thursday in the SEC tournament, while the Gamecocks finished
fifth in the East and will play Alabama on Thursday.