Georgia entered the week with legitimate NCAA tournament hopes. Now the Bulldogs are left either needing a miracle run, or just playing out the string of a disappointing season.
Vanderbilt handed Georgia its second loss of the week, 80-67, dropping the Bulldogs to 14-11 overall and 7-7 in the SEC. There are two weeks left in the regular season, and making the NCAAs at this point almost certainly would require a 4-0 finish, and even then probably more wins in the SEC tournament.
Here are five observations:
1. A COMEBACK TOO LATE
Another porous offensive stretch doomed Georgia in this one, this time at the start, allowing Vanderbilt to grab a 16-point halftime lead. Georgia did show heart, however.
The Bulldogs cut the lead to four with nine minutes left, and had possession. But a shot by Yante Maten missed, and on the other end Vanderbilt’s Matthew Fisher-Davis hit a 3. A few minutes later the lead was back up to 12.
Vanderbilt was coming off a game in which it blew a 17-point lead at Mississippi State and lost. But the Commodores would hold on this time.
J.J. Frazier symbolized the game for Georgia, going scoreless in the decisive first nine minutes, then ending up with a team-high 21 points as Georgia’s comeback fell short.
2. SENIORS COME UP SHORT
Earlier in the week Georgia head Mark Fox basically called out his veteran guards, saying they needed to make better decisions. Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann, the team’s only two seniors, didn’t follow up with strong games. Quite the opposite.
The pair were scoreless in the first half, and finished with just five points apiece.
Gaines finally got his first points with 13:34 left, a jumper to bring Georgia within 47-40. His next basket, a 3, made it 54-48.
Mann, who had foul trouble, didn’t score until there was 9:50 left in the game, hitting two free throws to cut the score to 54-50.
But as Vanderbilt pulled back away, Gaines didn’t score again. He finished 2-for-10 from the field, while Mann was 1-for-4.
3. TERRIBLE EARLY OFFENSE
Georgia had just five points in the first nine minutes, going 2-for-15 from the field, and 1-for-4 from the free throw line.
It wasn’t just the seniors: Maten started 1-for-7 from the field. Frazier didn’t even get a shot off in the first nine minutes, and when he did later make a 3-pointer he needed the help of the backboard.
By the time Georgia finally got going the Commodores got hot too, building leads off 17-7 and 23-12.
4. OGBEIDE’S STRONG FIRST HALFF
The one encouraging thing for Georgia is Derek Ogbeide is coming into his own.
The freshman post player had a team-high 11 points in the first half, going 5-for-6 from the floor. He didn’t score in the second half, but considering Ogbeide’s offense has been the big question mark this year, the first half was a good sign for the future.
Still, Ogbeide only finished with four rebounds, as Georgia’s interior defense struggled against Vanderbilt’s bigger front line. The Commodores got a number of key baskets and plays from Damien Jones (15 points, 16 rebounds) and Luke Kornet (11 points, 4 rebounds).
5. FOX’S TECHNICAL
Fox’s frustration boiled over late in the first half. When Maten was called for an offensive foul — negating a made jumper — Fox drew a technical by walking out onto the court to complain. It was a six-point swing: The subsequent free throws, and a basket on the possession, made the score 35-19.
That would be Vanderbilt’s biggest lead, as Georgia answered the technical with a run to cut the halftime deficit to nine. But the damage had been done.