ATHENS – On a frantic final possession, when one shot would win it, and a foul would give two free throws to tie or win it, Georgia elected not to use a timeout. It cost the team dearly.
Georgia lost 61-60 not using any of its three remaining timeouts, with senior Juwan Parker instead hoisting a contested shot from the corner. It missed, Texas A&M rebounded, and the game ended.
Texas A&M had missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw with 12 seconds left, and Georgia rebounded and got down court. Coach Mark Fox let his team play it out, but the Bulldogs couldn’t get off a good shot. Georgia star Yante Maten, playing on senior night at Stegeman Coliseum, did not appear to touch the ball on the final possession.
It was an abrupt ending to what until a minute earlier had been a stirring Georgia comeback, leading by as many as 4 with the ball.
Georgia (16-13 overall) almost certainly has now lost whatever margin for error it had in making the NCAA tournament field as an at-large team.
By falling to 7-10 in SEC play, UGA also dropped into a three-way tie for 10th place in the SEC with LSU and South Carolina. Only one of those teams will avoid playing on Wednesday of the SEC Tournament. Georgia likely has to upset Tennessee on Saturday to avoid that.
3 who mattered
Maten: On senior night the team’s best player had game-highs of 16 points and 12 rebounds. Maten’s defense was huge down the stretch: He blocked a shot that ended up hitting the shooter out of bounds, giving Georgia the ball up 4 with 2 minutes left. He also had great spot-up defense a few possessions earlier to lead to a missed shot.
Teshaun Hightower: The freshman was a big spark off the bench, playing most of the minutes at point guard. He led the offense well, and hit some big shots, including a layup to draw UGA within 1 and then a huge 3 to put Georgia up 58-54 with four minutes left.
Nicolas Claxton: The Georgia freshman had a great sequence in the first half, blocking 2 shots on the same possession, knocking away an entry pass and grabbing 2 offensive rebounds. It was one of the few sparks the team had in the lackluster first half.
Georgia was leading by 4 when Maten’s hook shot rolled out, and on the other end Adman Gilder hit a quick 3 to bring Texas A&M within a point with 1:12 left. Then the Bulldogs threw the ball away. T.J. Starks hit a short basket in the lane to give Texas A&M the lead, for good it turned out.
Struggling up close: Georgia missed a slew of layups and other close shots all game. It began with Turtle Jackson missing two shots in the lane to begin the game, and continued when the second half began, with even Maten missing a layup.
Free throws: A staple of Georgia’s offense is getting to the line, and it didn’t do it much in the first half, going 3 of 5 from the line. But when the Bulldogs rallied ahead in the second half it was at the line, drawing fouls and free throws on three straight possessions. Maten and Parker each had 2-for-2 trips to put the Bulldogs ahead 55-52.
Georgia has its regular-season finale at Tennessee at 6 p.m. on Saturday.