Nelson Chenault / USA TODAY Sports

UGA's Bubble Bursts

When it needed it the most, UGA came up with its worst defensive effort of the season.

I don’t say that because I know it to be a fact supported by numbers - although allowing 56% from the field for a game is about as bad as it could possibly get. 

I say that because I watched one of the most pitiful displays of defense I’ve seen from this program in a very long time. And it came after a week of UGA “moving up” the bubble (and one must point out that the moving up was a result of surviving - and I mean surviving - two of the worst teams in the conference at home). 

Naturally UGA fans were geeked up about the chances of salvaging this disappointing season with a late-season miracle run that involved losing its best player, and still getting into the NCAAs. 

UGA fans should know by now that miracles only happen when tornados strike unexpectedly and cocktails are spilt in euphoria in Jacksonville. 

But there’s nothing to be saved any more in the at-large world - not after today. 

Let me do some cleaning up for folks around who seem to be confused about Georgia’s NCAA hopes heading into Nashville - they are as follows:

Win the SEC Tournament or you will be, once more, playing your postseason in the NIT. The notion that Georgia can leave Nashville without cutting down the nets and still get into the NCAAs is beyond delusional. 

Mark Fox argued for his team and program after the loss to Arkansas. That’s his job, and he’s right to fight for his guys. There’s no shame in that. Anyone else participating in that talk is either a hopeless romantic for Fox, doesn’t understand college basketball or both. 

This team doesn’t belong in the NCAAs without automatically qualifying to get in. Its that simple. Today didn’t exclusively prove that, but it was a pretty good indicator of reality. UGA has not taken advantage of the opportunities which presented themselves during the season against teams that matter, and now the regular season is over. 

There’s a better way of putting all of this. 

For all of the oxygen spent talking about Georgia’s close losses at Texas A&M (16-14), at Florida (24-7), at Kentucky (26-5) and at South Carolina (22-8), those calling UGA’s games on TV (and Fox’s apologists elsewhere) fail to point out Georgia’s narrow wins vs. Texas (10-20), at Tennessee (16-15), vs. LSU (10-19) and vs. Auburn (17-13). 

Close losses are not wins. Never have been; never will be. 

Also, commentators on the Dawgs never mention difficult double-digit losses to Clemson, Kansas, Marquette, Alabama, Florida and now Arkansas even though those also make up what this team is. Harsh? The warts come out at the end of the year in all sports. 

The same goes for Kirby and company - yes close losses to Vanderbilt, Tech and Tennessee hurt, but UGA narrowly beat Nicholls, Kentucky, Auburn and Missouri. You are what you are at the end of the day. 

This basketball season, and this goes for everyone, doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Yes, Georgia played Kentucky and South Carolina hard as hell four times this season, but it lost. Yes, Auburn and LSU saddled up and nearly won in Athens last week, but they lost, too. 

Its both. Georgia is both the good and the bad. Those things make up what this program is and has become - not necessarily what it is capable of becoming. Those are two different things. 

The question for the future is if what this has become good enough any more. More on that after Nashville.

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