Georgia had a chance to beat their hated rivals and get a quality road win over a ranked team, and couldn’t do it. Frankly there’s no excuse or explication as to why Georgia lost to the Gators in Gainesville today except to say that old habits are nearly impossible to break - particularly eight years into a coaching tenure.
Considering Georgia hasn’t beaten the Gators down there since Fred Gibson did the gator chomp on the free throw line in the final moments of Georgia’s 84-79 win over No. 2 Florida, this was a rare opportunity in that the Dawgs could have actually won in Gainesville for the first time since the U.S. invaded Iraq.
Actually it was a considerable opportunity missed.
Did officials have curious calls? Sure. But this isn't about them.
Up five coming out of the four-minute media time out, Georgia should have ended the game with solid offense in the closing minutes of the game. They should have executed. They did no such thing. In those last four minutes, the Dawgs did a lot of standing and watching on offense. Only in one possession, which ended in a Jordan Harris bucket, was the offense functional.
There was too much dribbling, and not enough movement. That’s not offense, and it showed on the scoreboard.
The Dawgs scored only three points in the final four minutes of the game. And when the Gators missed a free throw to tie the game with :24 left in the game, they got an offensive rebound right when they needed to and got back to the line.
A UGA rebound would have all but ended Florida’s chances.
Georgia should have won this game. Mark Fox said as such after the game. But they didn’t, and these Dawgs are running out of games where its going to matter if they win. The rest of this month - games against Vanderbilt, A&M, Alabama and Texas - UGA will probably be favored to win, or the line will be real tight. The key here is that none of those wins… not even a road win at A&M… is going to score this group points with the NCAA Tournament Committee. They won’t get “credit” for winning those games - they’ll just avoid the punishment of losing them.
Georgia’s season is going to come down to if they win the SEC Tournament (as always because that’s an automatic bid into the Big Dance) and how they play in these games: at Kentucky on Jan 31, at South Carolina on Feb 4, vs. the Gators on Feb 7 and vs. the Cats on Feb 18.
Those four games, three of which are contained in a week, will determine if UGA will have the win it all in Nashville or just get some more wins in Music City. That’s what today’s result means at the end of the day.
With a win, UGA would have had some real flexibility moving forward. Technically, it would still control its own destiny in terms of winning the SEC regular season title. Now, pretty much only bad things (losses matter more than wins at this stage of the season) can happen between now and that seven-day stretch that will define this season and perhaps Mark Fox’s tenure in Athens.