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Beyond the Hedges: 1/24/2013

It's been a busy week since we last caught up with the athletes representing UGA in various sports. We've already brought you some good news (the Gym Dogs' triumph over Stanford Monday) and some bad news (the loss to the Gators in men's basketball last night). But wait, there's still more.

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

There was both good and bad news in women's basketball as the Lady Bulldogs split the last two games. Last Thursday night, Georgia was in Fayetteville to play the Arkansas Razorbacks. The UGA women fell behind 30-19 at the half, and Arkansas widened the lead to 13 in the opening seconds of the second, but thanks in very large part to the efforts of freshman Shacobia Barbee's double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds -- career highs for both), Georgia rallied in the second half, outscoring Arkansas 36-19 in the last 15:51 to escape with a 57-53 win. It didn't work out so well Sunday against Texas A&M at home in a nationally televised game against the Aggies. The conference newcomers from the West were on fire and blazed to a 39-16 halftime lead, and the Lady Bulldogs showed signs of life in a 14-2 run, but they could not maintain the rally and ultimately fell to the visitors 64-46. This was UGA's first home loss since January 2012. Landers and the ladies have an open date tonight and, we hope, will have the offensive struggles worked out by Sunday when Florida comes to Stegeman in a game televised regionally on CSS at 1:00 p.m.

In men's tennis, there was a big weekend in Palm Springs at the National Collegiate Tennis Classic. The tournament featured individual and not team competition from top programs around the country. I'm going to be frank with you here. These kinds of tournaments are extraordinarily difficult to recap in a few lines. There is no "Georgia advanced to the semi-finals where they were edged by Cal" kind of result to report. Georgia players went a cumulative 12-8 in singles competition and 7-5 in doubles play against some of the best players in the country. The level of competition was very good preparation for the season ahead and gave us a good luck at what we have and what needs work. The doubles team of junior Hernus Pieters and freshman Ben Wagland, for example, did not play up to their capabilities on Saturday in an 8-4 loss to Cal's Johnson/Konigsfeldt, but came back strong Sunday in a close 8-7 loss to Ole Miss's Kallberg/Skoge. Wagland does show promise, going 2-0 in singles play, and I'm confident we'll hear a lot about him as his career advances. As a team, Georgia is ranked No. 6 headed into the 2013 season, the highest-ranked team in the SEC. The conference is very deep this year, with all teams ranked in the top 60.

Dual match play opens this weekend with the ITA Kickoff Weekend, hosted on 15 campuses around the country. This will be the fifth consecutive year the event will be at the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Facility of the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. UGA starts against No. 39 Vandy tomorrow then either No. VCU or No. 34 Minnesota Saturday. All Georgia matches are at 2:00 p.m., win or lose. If you can't attend the event, (but if you can, think about it -- it's free) live scoring links are available for all matches. You also can participate in a live chat of Bulldogs matches, as well. Follow the ITA Kickoff link above to get to the live scoring and chat pages. I've followed the online chat before, and it typically is interesting, providing informed color. Each of the 15 Kickoff Weekends will send one winner to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, 15-18 February in Seattle. In the meantime, Georgia hosts No. 61 Clemson on 1/31 at 4:00 p.m., travels to No. 4 Ohio State on 2/3, and visits No. 60 Tech in Atlanta on 2/8.

In women's tennis news, No. 6 Georgia hosted No. 58 Memphis, No. 67 Kansas State, and Troy State in the Georgia Invitational Friday through Sunday. The Bulldogs did very well: 17-3 in singles and 8-1 in doubles against somewhat less challenging competition than the men faced out in California. Coming up, the women also host the ITA Kickoff Weekend, starting play against Columbia Sunday and either Oklahoma State or Georgia State Monday. The women's Indoor Championships will be in Charlottesville, Virginia, 8-11 February. On 2 February, UGA travels to Clemson.

We here at Dawg Sports are thrilled to give a big shout-out to the UGA Ice Dawgs who were in Savannah this weekend for the Savannah Tire Hockey Classic. Joining the Georgia club were teams representing FSU, Georgia Tech, Florida, The Citadel, and South Carolina. Georgia soundly defeated the Gators 7 goals to 3 Friday night but fell to two-time defending event champion Tech 3-1 on Sunday. When all was said and done, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida, and FSU were tied at one win and won loss each, but UGA took the championship by cumulative goal differential. Next up is Vandy tomorrow night at the Atlanta IceForum in Duluth. The puck drops at 9:30. The Ice Dawgs return to the IceForum Saturday night to host South Carolina at 8:45. Admission is $5.00 for adults and $2.00 for students. Kids six and under get in for free.

We're always taking scores and leads from readers here, so let us know what you'd like to see covered on these pages, and I'll get it done.