UF WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

Hayden goes up against Georgia's powerful duo


Published: Sunday, January 18, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 18, 2004 at 1:16 a.m.

Florida All-American Vanessa Hayden has seen double and triple teams all season. Today at No. 11 Georgia, Hayden will be seeing double yet again. But this time, it's the Bulldogs' Twin Towers.

Georgia possesses the Southeastern Conference's most dominate post duo - 6-foot-5 senior center Christi Thomas and 6-6 junior forward Kara Braxton.

They combine to average 28.5 points and 17.4 rebounds per game this season for the Bulldogs.

Hayden, meanwhile, has averaged 19.8 points and 11.6 rebounds despite being swarmed by opposing defenses. And while Hayden faces her stiffest test of the season today, Florida coach Carolyn Peck looks at it the other way around.

"I look at it more as, Vanessa's the toughest player they've faced," Peck said. "I'll be interested to see what happens."

Interested because the Bulldogs are coming off a shocking 72-54 blowout loss at No. 20 Auburn on Thursday night. The undersized Tigers had no trouble slowing the Bulldogs and holding them to less than 30 percent shooting.

"I think that they're going to come prepared to play (today)," Peck said. "Losing just happens in the SEC. It's very similar to how we lost to Ole Miss and came back and played very focused against Vanderbilt. Georgia lost at Auburn, and they're going to come back and be very focused."

Florida, meanwhile, is coming off a 74-59 loss at No. 14 LSU on Thursday night in a game where Hayden only played 24 minutes due to foul trouble. She still logged 14 points and 10 rebounds, good enough for her fifth straight double-double, her 11th on the season.

Hayden said she is expecting a big challenge going up against Thomas and Braxton this afternoon.

"They have the best post combination in the country," Hayden said. "They get the job done, and it's going to be a challenge for us to see how we guard them."

Braxton did not play in the teams' last meeting - a 76-67 Georgia win in Athens on March 1. Hayden, though, scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds going against Thomas, who finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

"What we got to do is box out and hit shots," Hayden said. "We didn't hit any shots (against LSU), and we didn't box out, and we lost."

You can reach Brandon Zimmerman at 374-5051 or zimmerb@gvillesun.com.

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