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UGA interviews Thad Matta for job

Georgia officials interviewed former Ohio State coach Thad Matta on Monday, launching their coach search only two days after the school fired Mark Fox.

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Matta's visit to Athens was closely monitored by his older brother, Greg Matta, who is the coach at North Cobb Christian School in Kennesaw, Georgia, about a 90-minute drive away.

Greg Matta said Monday his younger brother told him before the interview ''what an exciting place'' Georgia is as a possible next coaching job.

Thad Matta's visit to Athens was a poorly kept secret.

''I had people in school tell me `Your brother is in Athens,''' said Greg Matta, who added that ''it would be awesome'' to have his brother so close to home.

Thad Matta, 50, led Ohio State to nine NCAA Tournaments, including two Final Four appearances, and five Big Ten regular season championships in 13 years.

He also led Xavier to the NCAA Tournament in each of his three years at the school and had another NCAA appearance in his only season as Butler's coach.

He was fired by Ohio State following a 17-15 finish in the 2016-17 season.

''I know Thad has always missed it,'' Greg Matta said. ''It's in his blood.

''Thad is a great coach. Whoever gets Thad is going to get an unbelievable basketball coach and a great person.''

Matta's overall record is 439-154. He has been troubled for years by chronic back problems and said after he left Ohio State his focus would be on his health.

Greg Matta said the brothers don't discuss Thad Matta's health issues. He said Thad Matta ''looked great'' when the two were together around Christmas.

''We didn't go play golf or anything like that but he seemed to be doing fine,'' said Greg Matta. ''We really don't talk about that. ... All I know is he looked great and was moving around and even the color in his face, he was looking great.''

Fox was fired Saturday .

Georgia (18-15) lost to Kentucky in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament, ending the Bulldogs' hopes of landing a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Georgia earned only two NCAA bids in Fox's tenure, losing in the first round in 2011 and 2015. Fox was 163-133 at Georgia.

Another possible candidate to replace Fox is former Indiana and Marquette coach Tom Crean.

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity did not respond to a request from The Associated Press for a comment on Matta.

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More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25

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