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Playing with Five, Not Two

ATHENS - I’ve been wasting your time and my time here of late. I’m sorry. I won’t do that again.

I’m not going to write about this UGA team getting into the NCAAs anytime soon. Not because its out of the realm of possibility, and not because I’m against them. I’m going to stop bringing it up because, no matter how often that narrative is shoved down our throats by our friends at the SEC Network, it is not reality right now. 

This isn’t a tournament team as it stands today, and it doesn’t feel like it will be in the near future. Sure, a team like this one can be underwhelming at the start of the season and get their act together. Mark Fox’s last three teams have lost their season openers and rallied to win 20 games, so they’ve hardly fallen apart. But hardly falling apart isn’t the same as getting a bid. 

We’ve not seen Georgia get its act together this season yet. All you have to do is watch these Dawgs play right now to be able to see that this team is sloppy - sloppy when it doesn’t have to be. 

Tonight UGA, a 14-point favorite to win at home, was losing to Furman with eight minutes left in the game. That’s like Georgia being favored over Nichols or Vanderbilt at home in football and… oh, we’ve seen that this season - I don’t have to explain it. 

Not impressive. Not impressive at all. 

You try not to be too negative because teams can evolve. Teams can find themselves along the way - particularly young teams like Kirby Smart’s first team. But this is the third time now in three games where Fox’s team hasn’t played well in the first half and spent much of the second half scrambling to either get back into the game or to solidify a win against an inferior foe.

Its a bad sign. Just look back at the last few seasons: what happens in November is usually an indicator of things to come for this basketball program. Only once in the last four years has UGA left November with a winning record. And that season the Bulldogs wound up in the NCAAs. 

With games against George Washington and either UAB or Kansas looming next week, these Dawgs need to get it together quick. A chance to play Kansas on a “neutral court” would be a great chance to get, and I know this is nearly impossible considering what the Jayhawks just did to the No. 1 team in the country, an unreal win. 

The problem is that we are seeing the warning signs of a team that’s only got two real options right now. Yante Maten, certified man, is killing people. He’s gone for 19 and 12, 19 and 9 and 27 and 7. He’s as good as there is in the SEC, and possibly the country. He really is that good. We will see just how well we stacks up nationally if Georgia plays Kansas on Tuesday. 

Then there’s J.J. Frazier - Clemson stopped him, but he’s rebounded to go 18 points and six assists and then 28 points and two assists, which isn’t nothing. Frazier is doing his part.

Those two are playing… no question. But who else is going to help them? That duo, who finished tonight with 65% of UGA’s points, will not be able to drag Georgia into the NCAAs without other stepping up.

Those players have both scored double digits in all three games of the season. None of the other 12 players on the team have reached double digits in scoring. That’s a problem. You play basketball with five players on the court; not just two.

This team, outside of its two stars, is getting off to a slow start. And that’s never a good thing for Fox’s teams. I know for sure, at least for now, that I will do my best to put aside talk of this group making it to the NCAAs. Although it is a cheap, easy narrative for the TV talking heads, its just not a reality right now, and the talking heads are talking enough about it for the rest of us combined. 

So I will put it aside and wait to see if this team grows into something more than it is right now.

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