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February 7, 2013

Georgia defeats Tennessee in Knoxville

I'm still not ready to proclaim all is well...but I'll admit I was wrong about one thing: Coach Fox can motivate players to step up.

Dawgs get their fourth straight SEC victory (and 5th in their last 6 games) on the road against Tennessee. This wasn't like the LSU game where someone had to win. Georgia went up there, shot well, handled the ball well, played strong defense, withstood a late rally and still won against a talented team.  With the win, Georgia moved into a tie for sixth in the conference at 5-4. Pending Missouri's game at Texas A&M tonight, we could be tied for fifth.

Have we turned a corner or has the conference just fell back to us a bit? That might remain to be seen, but as long as we are winning, I don't care. I think we'd have to win out and make some noise in the SEC Tournament to have a legit shot at the NCAA tournament, but if we win Saturday against Texas A&M, we'll move into the top 100 in RPI. I believe we need to go 6-3 for us to have a shot at the NIT. I know I dissed the 'make the NIT' mentality a couple of weeks ago, and I still believe we should strive for the NCAA every season. However, after our start, making the NIT would be quite a nice achievement.

Getting back to my first sentence, let me say this: Coach Fox has started letting Mann, Gaines, Morris and Cannon get more playing time. It is paying off. We can quibble about how he used those players early and allowed them to develop, but it is easy to see they are coming together some.  That is big. We have some very tough games to go: Kentucky at home, road trips to Ole Miss, Arkansas and Vandy. We have games we should win: Texas A&M, Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee at home. If we win the four we should win, the one toss up (@Alabama to end the season) and one of the tough games, we'll finish no lower than fifth in the conference.

We could finish fourth and get a double bye in the SEC tournament.

TD
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I was going to write this, but PWD put it on the Twitters:

7 comments:

Doug said...

As a graduate of both UGA (grad school) and GW (undergrad), there's striking similarities in both teams recent success. Both are starting mostly freshmen, which is allowing for their talent to show.

The game between UGA and GW was probably where both Coach Fox and Coach Lonergan realized that something had to change.

Anonymous said...

At the game last night. Could not believe this is the same team that I saw in December. Better defense, hitting their shots and Coach Fox with more animation than I have ever seen. Best moment of the night was when Brantley fouled their 3 pt specialist (McBee???). Fox was seething as soon as it happened. When the tennessee player made the first shot Fox couldn't take it any more and called a time out before the other two free throw were attempted. Over a hushed crowd Fox could be heard screaming "GET YOUR ASS OVER HERE!!!!!!)He chewed on Brantley and the team until he finally walked away.

Unknown said...

6-3 with one bye in the tournament would be the ideal finish to the season. The double bye scares me. We're not winning the SEC tournament, so getting a bye and two wins in the tourney would be ideal.

All that would leave us at 19-15 and give us a shot at an NIT birth.

If you had offered that up before the season, I would have taken it...

Hunkering Hank said...

Awesome. Just like football.

Nice turnaround Coach Fox. Keep it going!

Tyler Dawgden said...

Unknown,

I agree that we are better off getting the one bye than the double as far as NIT chances go. But, if we go 6-3 the rest of the way and lose only road games to Ole Miss and Arkansas and the home game to Kentucky, we'll have a sub 70 RPI, so I think we make the NIT (unless we lose to Mississippi State in the tournament).

Not trying to be that guy, but we should be around 15-7 (6-3). We'd be a bubble team, at worst. With the conference as it is right now, we'd be sitting where Mississippi is, mid-40s RPI, and be a pretty strong lock for the NCAA tournament.

That is what losing to Youngstown State, Georgia Tech (who has a worse RPI than we do now), and Mississippi State (who has a 239 RPI) will do to you. At this point, winning out and getting another top 50 RPI win in the tournament will get us to that discussion.

We aren't going to win out.

Steve said...

Tyler,

I'm 'Unknown.' Hopefully I'm actually Steve now, because I am definitely signed in and known.

Anyway, we are in total agreement. However, I'm always hesitant to say things like "we should be." That's revisionist history. I suppose we "could be," but we are not.

If we took today's team and replayed those three games (and maybe more), would we win them? Quite possibly. Honestly, the way we're playing now (good, but still not great), only Indiana, Florida (x2), and Missouri would be certain losses.

Reality is what it is though, and the NIT is a good goal for this team. Mark Fox's favorite talking point this season has been the youth of the team, and how we lost some games because that youth needed some time to mature. It sounded like excuse making, and I mentally fired him after the first Florida game, but suddenly there may be some dim light at the end of the tunnel.

My (semi)-realistic hope is for a strong finish to this season, a potential NIT birth, and the recruiting job of a lifetime to keep KCP around one more year. If that happens, the NCAA tournament is a must in 2013-14.

I'm curious: do you think there's a chance KCP stays? Most seem to think he's a lock for the draft...I'm not so sure. I think there's at least a 50/50 chance we keep him around one more year.

Keep up the good work and, honestly, thank you for blogging about Georgia basketball. There are folks out there that care!

Mr. Sanchez said...

I'll doubt the NIT until it happens. If I'm not mistaken, between the reduced field and mandatory mid/low major regular season conference winners, it's become very hard for a team without name recognition like Georgia to get an invite.

 
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