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Georgia extends Mark Fox’s contract through 2018

Apr 2, 2014, 5:49 PM EDT

fox AP

One of the more surprising occurrences in the SEC this season was the performance of Mark Fox’s Georgia Bulldogs, especially in the aftermath of their 6-6 run through non-conference play. Picked to finish 11th in the conference’s preseason poll, the Bulldogs won 12 SEC games and managed to finish in a tie with Kentucky for second place.

While that didn’t result in an NCAA tournament berth, as their performance outside of the league kept Georgia off the bubble, it did help build optimism regarding the status of the program.

Wednesday afternoon the school announced that Fox has been given a two-year contract extension through the 2017-18 season, and with the Bulldogs losing just one starter there’s optimism that Georgia can take another step forward in 2014-15.

“From Day One, we have worked to establish basketball success within the SEC, academic success in the graduation of our players and developing a culture where we remain consistently successful,” Fox said in the release.  “As we move forward and continue to recruit and develop young men who can compete for championships, this is a great step to aid in the process.”

6-foot-9 forward Donte’ Williams, who averaged 4.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game this season, is the lone starter departing with guards Charles Mann (13.9 ppg) and Kenny Gaines (13.0 ppg) being the team’s leading returning scorers. Georgia’s top five scorers from the 2013-14 season return, and of those five only forwards Nemanja Djurisic and Marcus Thornton will be seniors in 2014-15.