Most everyone will focus on the collapse - being up nine with under two minutes to go and still losing - or the fact that Texas A&M’s game clock worked for all but the final 5.6 seconds of the game. That’s fine.
But the reason(s) for the collapse is just as important as the collapse itself. UGA simply refused to value the basketball in the final two minutes of the game, and its lack of offensive execution at the end of games is not isolated to this contest.
First, the collapse…
Up nine with under two minutes on the clock, the Bulldogs almost ended the game, but came up just short. A loose ball that Juwan Parker narrowly missed getting turned into two points for the Aggies moments later. Parker got on the ground to get the ball; he just didn’t get it, and there’s no real harm in fighting for the ball and not getting it.
After the A&M score, J.J. Frazier, who has struggled with making the right decision in the closing moments of the game lately, drove the ball, but jumped into the air with no one to pass the ball to and no real shot to make. It was horrible late-game offensive execution.
Georgia then fouled, and A&M converted two FTs to close the game to within five with 1:11 to go in the game - meaning at that moment that Georgia should have still won.
Yante Maten took the ball out and lobbed a ball to Parker, who had it tipped from underneath his hands which allowed A&M to steal the ball.
A missed Aggie three resulted in Parker’s final foul and two more A&M free throws. Suddenly the game was 62-59, but UGA was still in control up three in the final minute of the game.
Maten, once more, threw in the ball - this time to Frazier who was double and then triple teamed in the corner. Is the corner the right place to set the ball into play? Particularly with a guard who is so small? This time the ball went off A&M out of bounds. Maten threw the ball in again to the same spot, this time to Jordan Harris, who was double teamed again and lost the ball.
Now in zone, UGA couldn't prevent a very nice move by an A&M big man to cut the lead to one. The collapse wasn’t yet complete, however. Maten again put the ball in play, and once more threw the ball to a guard (Frazier) near the sideline as the Aggies pressured him. Frazier lost the ball out of bounds.
Amazingly, UGA still had the lead. It just needed to defend, and it would likely win. A&M drove the ball wildly towards the basket and threw up an equally wild shot, but the Aggies were there for the awkward offensive rebound and unskilled put back to take the lead.
Unfortunately for UGA, unskilled baskets still count as two points on the score board.
Now down one with plenty of time on the clock, the Bulldogs had the ball once more with a chance to win the game. The problem was that Frazier dribbled ineffectively around the perimeter and then picked up his dribble. He got the ball back and picked his dribble up once more. By the time he passed the ball to the Dawgs’ best player, Maten, time had expired - at least that’s what had been determined by officials, who ended the game even though the final horn never sounded.
It was confusing, and UGA partisans have a right to be angry that in today’s SEC folks can no longer depend on a functional game clock - even though these 14 programs pull in dozens of millions of dollars each year as a result of these their athletic cartel. But the game was over.
Consider that UGA didn’t shoot at their basketball in the final two minutes of the game. For three consecutive inbounds, the Bulldogs entered the ball into play at the corner of the floor and never advanced the ball from that position, either losing the ball out of bounds off A&M or turning the ball over outright. Both times the Dawgs got the ball past half court Frazier spent too much time dribbling, and either turned it over or had the clock run out on him.
Georgia’s offensive execution at the end of games needs to be executed.
It was a stunning collapse by a team and program that can’t have collapses of any sort right now. Sitting at 12-7, Georgia will have to do more than win the games it is supposed to now. Home games with the likes of the Gators and Kentucky are looking more and more like must-win games. Frankly, any home game is a must-win game now.
But somewhere along the way beating the likes of the Cats or Cocks (the Gators took a major step backwards Saturday with a home loss to Vandy) or both, is the only way to jump start this post-season campaign.
Georgia is going to have to get on a major run to play in the NCAAs now. Only 13 games remain. Ken Pom says Georgia will be favored in five of the 12 regular season games that remain. The rest of the games - at UK, at USC, vs. Gators, at UT, vs. UK, at Bama and at Arkansas - are rather difficult for whatever reason (away or skill of the other team, or both).
This was the loss Georgia couldn’t take. Its best win remains at Ole Miss, which is not a great win. These Dawgs are going to have to win the bulk of their games down the stretch, and Saturday’s loss at A&M makes me very skeptical that will happen.