Remember when everyone had Georgia playing in the Orange Bowl earlier this season? Me, too.
But this team, Mark Fox’s eighth, doesn’t seem like an NCAA Tournament team. Not tonight at least, and probably not any time soon considering the schedule.
Yante Maten, UGA’s best player, and Derek Ogbeide certainly did their part inside during UGA's loss to Clemson. Those two have the ability to use their raw physical ability to lean on and beat up foes. They are a heck of a tandem.
Maten is a star, no doubt. But the rest of this team looked lost. And trust me when I tell you Maten can’t do it by himself, although tonight he certainly tried.
The Robin to his Batman, J.J. Frazier, had more fouls (3) than field goals (1) 30 minutes into the game. There’s not going to be many games where Frazier plays like that and Georgia winds up winning. This might be a really bad sign from here on out for these Dawgs when they play quality teams - Frazier can get locked down if the other side really wants to. That very well could make this season a real struggle when it matters.
Nobody is going to shut Maten down - that’s not going to happen. OK, Kentucky is going to stop him. But that’s it. He's that good. He'a a monster.
Nonetheless, while it kept the game respectable most of the night - and made a second-half surge to get within three - Georgia most certainly didn’t win. Save that surge, the outcome didn’t seem in doubt too long after these two got rolling. Lest we point out that Clemson went from up three to up ten in about a minute after UGA's major surge.
You don’t get credit for a win for fighting back during games, but that’s certainly a good sign for a team that is going to have to show fight all of the time… particularly on the road.
But considering this was one of the few road opportunities these Bulldogs have to steal against a power foe, this was an opportunity lost. Let me be clear, Georgia shouldn’t have won this game, but it was there to steal. That didn't happen.
But this might be bigger than those two things. What’s most concerning were the results from around the SEC tonight. Vanderbilt lost to Marquette by 24. UTC beat Tennessee by 13. Ole Miss survived UT-Martin at home. This isn’t a good conference. UGA is going to have to make its way outside of SEC play because the SEC ain’t so good right now.
This was a chance to do that. It didn’t happen.