Metrics are great and everything, but just watching this game was enough… Georgia pretty well played the best its played all season.
The Rebels came into the night with a No. 38 RPI, which means this is the best win of the season so far for Georgia. All you had to do was watch the way the Bulldogs defended to tell that this was a good night for the Dawgs.
Ole Miss didn’t even hit 28% of their shooting attempts. Georgia out rebounded Ole Miss by ten. If there’s ever a formula for a team to win, particularly this team, its contained in those two sentences.
So the Bulldogs now sit fourth in the SEC with a 3-1 record after four games. Their wins have come against teams who are a combined 2-9 in SEC play. Their lone loss, to South Carolina (13-3, 3-0), came at home.
And look who is next. The Gators - probably the second-best team in the conference. If Georgia is going to make some noise this season, and its yet to be proven that it will, taking out Florida in Gainesville is one of the quickest ways to do just that.
The Gators are one of two certain NCAA teams in this league. I don’t think I have to lay out who the other is. Georgia has already lost to South Carolina (No. 37), so one of the opportunities to pick up a win over a likely NCAA team is gone. Road contests with the Gators (No. 3), Cats (No. 8) and the final “likely” NCCA team, the Hogs (No. 41), remain.
And make no mistake, at win at No. 38 Ole Miss is a good one… right now. We don’t know what it will be in the future. We know those other four teams will be good or pretty good at the end of the season. So the game with Florida is an important one.
There are several “opportunities” to take a step back this winter as No. 143 Mississippi State, No. 105 Texas A&M, No. 102 LSU are still on the schedule. This team nearly went down that path against Missouri before a halftime fight jumpstarted the team to a win against the lowly Tigers.
What we saw tonight - very-good-to-great defense coupled with outstanding rebounding and point-blank shooting - is the only way this team can move forward in a positive way. Simply put, this program hasn’t recruited enough talent on the roster to realistically expect it to do any real damage in March.
But if they play like they did tonight more often there will be more solid wins, and probably a little confusion about the fate of the team heading into Selection Sunday. This was a good step forward for the Dawgs tonight in Oxford - that shouldn’t be undersold.
What I want to see on Saturday in Gainesville is if there is a leap forward, or the usual result.