What could have been in Lexington

ATHENS – There was a moment in Georgia's loss to Kentucky on Saturday that could have turned the program around the same way the football program turned around when they beat Auburn in 1996.

That November, Georgia went into its annual game with Auburn at 3-5. It was a season full of lows. A season opening loss to Southern Miss was followed by a tough-to-take defeat in Columbia at the hands of South Carolina. National powers Tennessee and Florida had their way with Georgia. Even lowly Kentucky beat the Bulldogs.

Then, after UGA V nearly took a precious piece of Robert Baker's anatomy, Georgia fought back into the game. Many say the actual turning point was when the Bulldog defense recovered a Dameyune Craig fumble just before the half. It could have been Mike Bobo's desperation touchdown pass to Corey Allen.

Either way Georgia's football fate turned around that day. The Georgia seniors, who had never beaten any significant SEC program since they arrived in Athens, pulled themselves up and topped Terry Bowden's once mighty program from the SEC West race. (This game too could be considered Auburn's fall from grace.)

The same thing could have happened on Sunday in Lexington.

Again, a Georgia team that no one expected anything from had a powerful SEC team on the ropes. They were down, perhaps even out, but fought back to make the game a contest. Even the finest self-imposed Kentucky bourbon haze couldn't cloud the obvious – Georgia had momentum on their side late in the contest.

UGA V was nowhere to be seen; Jim Donnan is long gone; and Georgia's basketball coach in 1996, Tubby Smith, was dressed in blue. It was not 1996, and the game was not the turning point the program hoped it might have been.

With Georgia down only five, and the clock running, Georgia failed twice to take advantage of scoring opportunities – even after an offensive rebound gave the Dawgs another look at the basket on one of those possessions. The Bulldogs out-rebounded and out-hustled the Wildcats, but it was not enough.

February 12, 2005 will not serve as the turn around point for the basketball program the way November 16, 1996 does for the football program.


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