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Mark Fox, head coach of the University of Georgia men’s basketball team, Phillip Preston, assistant head coach, William Jackson II (0) and Jordan Harris (2) speak with each other in between free throws during the second half of a game between the University of South Carolina and the University of Georgia at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia on Saturday, January 13, 2018. (Photo/Tony Walsh)

The Georgia men’s basketball team has been through a brutal stretch over its last six games.

The Bulldogs went 1-5 in those contests and have fallen to a ninth-place tie in the SEC with a conference record of 3-5. Georgia also blew double-digit leads in losses to Auburn and Arkansas, both of which were good opportunities for the Bulldogs to enhance their NCAA Tournament resume.

Instead, Georgia sits at 12-8 overall and is, presumably, on the wrong side of the bubble. Now, the Bulldogs face a tough stretch of schedule in which they will face four ranked opponents in their next six games. And after being a confident team that was sitting at 11-3 earlier in the month, the Bulldogs now are searching for answers on how to remain sure of themselves.

“I think there is no question that our confidence has been shaken a little bit,” Georgia head coach Mark Fox said. “Every time you have a loss or two together, that can happen but we’ve got to fight to get that back. There’s no question that their confidence has taken a little bit of a hit.”

The inconsistency of the Bulldog offense is what lies at the heart of the team’s current problems.

Over the last six games, Georgia’s offense has been putrid, averaging just 61.2 points per game over the stretch. Those struggles on offense have offset what has been a pretty strong Bulldog defense, which holds opponents to a 38.7 percent field goal percentage on the season.

“We’ve got to get some consistent performance,” Fox said. “We’ve had a couple of guys over the last four or five games that haven’t shot it as well, and we’ve got to get back to putting the ball in the basket. As simple as it may sound, it is really important.”

Georgia is also doing some shuffling with its rotations and minutes distribution as the Bulldogs search for players that they can regularly rely on.

The Bulldogs played just nine players in their last loss to Kansas State, down from the 10 or 11 players that they typically deploy. Players such as Mike Edwards, Teshaun Hightower, Tyree Crump, Jordan Harris and E’Torrion Wilridge have all seen their minutes fluctuate greatly.

Hightower started two games against Auburn and LSU and did not play against Kansas State. Edwards also did not see the floor in that game after previously being a rotation fixture. Wilridge has started several games this season and has also had games where he played fewer than 10 minutes recently, including the Kansas State game. Crump has also been in and out of the rotation all season as Fox looks for players that he can trust to be steady.

“We’re still searching for the guys that will perform,” Fox said. “And I’d like to settle on a rotation but we won’t really do that until we get some consistency.”

Georgia’s season started with promise when it sat at 11-3, but it has taken a turn for the worst after a 1-5 slide.

As losses pile up, minutes fluctuate and confidence gets shaken, the Bulldogs are in the middle of a firestorm in the heart of SEC play. And the players realize that how they handle those obstacles now will define this season’s team.

“With all of the adversity, it’s easy for your resolve to be questioned,” junior forward Derek Ogbeide said. “And of course, ours has been questioned. I really do believe that we won’t crumble as a team or as individuals. I believe in us and I know the mindset of our players, our team and us as a whole.”

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