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[Blog] Downey outruns the Fox

Georgia coach Mark Fox on Monday revealed something interesting about the waning moments of Saturday’s game against South Carolina.

Fox, his team leading by three with about 30 seconds left, had ordered his players to foul Gamecock star Devan Downey, rather than let him shoot. Downey still got off two shots – a layup then a 3 – though each missed and the Bulldogs won.

“That’s how fast he is. We couldn’t even catch him to foul him,” Fox said. “He’s a terrific player. It’s one thing to get 30 points a game, but when the other team knows you get 30 points a game and they gear their defense to stop him and he still gets 30 points, that’s a terrific tribute to him.”

There was more discussion of Downey’s sore ankle on the SEC coaches teleconference. Florida coach Billy Donovan mentioned seeing Downey in a brace last week, and felt there was a difference in his play, but it was still enough to beat his team.

“I didn’t think he was as aggressive in Columbia. But when I say non-aggressive I thought he did a terrific job of incorporating the other guys in the game,” Donovan said.

Downey’s numbers have slipped a bit the past two games: From averaging more than 30 points a game over the first eight SEC games to 24 points against Florida and 18 at Georgia.

But South Carolina coach Darrin Horn reiterated Monday that the injury was nothing to worry about.

“He’s fine. It’s a minor kind that probably everybody in our league has right now but it just gets magnified because he’s our best player,” Horn said. “I think if it hurt him at all it was when he didn’t get to practice last week.”

Downey is still averaging 28.9 points in SEC play, which is nearly 10 points better than second place Courtney Fortson of Arkansas. Downey and the Gamecocks travel to Arkansas on Wednesday.

LSU coach Trent Johnson, whose team was also torched by Downey, started out sarcastic when asked about him.

“I don’t think Devan’s very good,” Johnson said. “I think out of about 1,000 players in college basketball, he’s at the bottom of the barrel.”

Then Johnson turned serious:

“He’s as good as it gets. When you look at what’s going on with South Carolina … for him to put up the amount of points he’s putting up, it’d be hard for me to imagine a player playing better than he’s played. Especially against Kentucky. … I’m ready for him to leave.”

The questioner pointed out that Downey was a fifth-year senior and was indeed leaving.

“There’s a lot of fifth-year seniors that don’t average 30 points a game,” Johnson replied.

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