ATHENS — There’s not a lot Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean and his players can say after losing a 22-point lead at Florida last Wednesday night.
But Crean and seniors Jordan Harris and Donnell Gresham Jr. tried to put the ugly loss to the Gators into perspective on Friday, answering questions even as their focus has shifted forward.
No doubt, the Bulldogs (12-10, 2-7 SEC) have to get back on track quickly to have any real hope of a postseason appearance of any kind.
The next game is at 6 p.m. on Saturday (TV: SEC Network) against Alabama (12-10, 4-5), a program that can match or exceed Georgia’s athleticism, size and certainly experience.
Harris, however, believes the Bulldogs can continue to ratchet up their game.
Especially with another sellout home crowd at Stegemen Coliseum awaiting the Crimson Tide.
“We can’t just fall off,” Harris said. “We’ve got to keep getting better and attacking it every day. We’ve always got to play to win at the end of the day and make winning plays.”
Crean didn’t change his tune on what happened in two of the last three games when UGA lost leads of 20 or more points in road games at Missouri and Florida.
Too much standing around, not enough movement, not enough communication, and basically, not enough resolve on the floor.
“It’s almost like a mindset like, ‘We’re going to get this stop,’ especially when they’re trying to play one-on-one like they were, and we just gave them way too much comfort,” Crean said.
“Like I said to our team, and like I said after the game when it started—especially with a younger team, where there’s not that level of, ‘Okay, here’s the couple of guys who will make sure this gets done right,’ ” he said. “We’re going to talk it out, we’re going to get this thing stopped. And it came, and it just got quiet, and then that’s the frustrating part of it. Because it can’t get like that, right?”
But it did, and it has, and a Georgia team that by all rights should be in the middle of the SEC is instead near the bottom.
The progress Crean has made — the historic win over a top 10 Memphis, double-digit home wins over Tennessee and Texas A&M — has seemingly gotten lost in the shuffle.
The Georgia fans who want to dislike basketball for whatever odd reason have their ammunition.
The Bulldogs’ fans who want to get excited are discouraged by such defeats.
And the Georgia players, the nine freshmen, three seniors and junior Rayshaun Hammonds, they have to find resiliency after losing five of their last six games.
“It’s tough to sleep after a loss like that, definitely,” Gresham Jr. said on Friday. “Because we lost to Missouri in a similar way. It’s tough to regroup. But we had a good practice on (Thursday) and we’re looking to build on that today and be ready for Alabama.”
The Crimson Tide, meanwhile, looks to snap a season-long three-game losing streak coming off a 69-68 loss to Tennessee.
Alabama leads the SEC in scoring in conference games, averaging 80.6 points per game, so it’s likely Saturday night’s game in Athens could take on the look of a track meet.
Georgia coach Tom Crean
DawgNation Georgia basketball