NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The game was already in hand, but a Georgia player had committed a foul. Some Kentucky fans booed. Georgia coach Mark Fox, standing on the other end of the court, yelled across at nobody in particular.
“We play till the clock hits zero!” Fox yelled, then repeated it: “We play till the clock hits zero!”
After the game, Fox was asked why, with Kentucky icing a 71-60 win in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals, his team kept fouling.
Fox hesitated for a few moments, but he seemed ready with his response.
“You know we didn’t get to play till the clock hit zero at Texas A&M,” he said. “That’s why we fouled till the bitter end.”
Claude Felton, Georgia’s longtime spokesman who was handling the postgame news conference, began to ask the media if there was another question.
“I’m not done,” Fox said. “There were a number of things that frustrated everybody at the end of that game. None more so than our players walking off with 5.6 on the clock. So we’re going to play till it’s zero. So that’s why I did it.”
He was harkening back to his team’s 1-point loss in January, when a clock malfunction led to the game being ended before Georgia’s final shot was taken. The SEC later admitted that officials erred by not noticing the clock had stopped and halting the game. Instead, the game was called after the replay review showed the clock had run out, even though Georgia players didn’t realize it.
That loss could prove costly if Georgia (19-14) doesn’t get in the NCAA Tournament, and it’s not expected to at this point. Of course, Georgia squandered a 9-point lead with 1:50 left. But the Bulldogs thought they were about to pull it out anyway, with Yante Maten fouled and headed to the free throw line. Then the review showed the game already had ended.
Fox was asked Friday if the NCAA selection committee was aware of the situation at Texas A&M and whether it should consider that.
“That’s probably above my pay grade, to be honest with you,” Fox said. “But I’m sure that the selection committee does their due diligence. And I’m sure the SEC has done their part to assist in the process of trying to educate the committee on our teams.”