Georgia basketball lost 63-62 to Texas A&M after allowing a 10-0 run by the Aggie to win the game and turning the ball over on three straight possessions.
Georgia (12-7, 4-3) might win 20 games this season to have their fourth such season in a row which would be a school record. They might have a good showing in the SEC Tournament, maybe even finish in the semi-finals.
But if Georgia basketball is not in the NCAA Tournament, the 2016-17 season will be a disappointment. And they loss to Texas A&M on Saturday was probably the final shot on their resume.
At times, Georgia looked dominant. They came in with the better record and thought of as the superior team. They even led by 10 late in the ball game with plenty of chances to put the game away. But turnovers, players fouling out, missed shots and sloppy defense allowed Texas A&M to come back and win the game.
Yes there was a little controversy at the end. The clock stopped at 5.6 seconds with the ball in J.J. Frazier’s hands. He looked up, saw 5.6 seconds and passed the ball down low to Yante Maten who was fouled well after the time when the buzzer would have sounded.
Could Maten had tied or took the lead at the foul line? Probably, other than Frazier, who else would you want on the line at that moment? Could Georgia have gotten an open shot if the officials had restarted the game with 5.6 seconds remaining? Again, it’s very possible.
But Mark Fox, Frazier, Maten, Juwan Parker, Derek Ogbeide and the rest of Georgia basketball has no one to blame but themselves. It should never have come to that. Just put the game away when you’re given the chance.
The impact of the loss
After opening conference play with losses to South Carolina and Florida, and after going 8-4 in non-conference play, the Bulldogs knew they couldn’t afford to lose to teams like Texas A&M.
They knew that Tuesday night against Vanderbilt and that night was a success, but that didn’t change from Tuesday to Saturday. Georgia knew they had to win all of the games they were favored to win, and win most of the other games.
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That was their route to the NCAA Tournament and it was a very clear route. It was as difficult as can be with games against Florida, South Carolina, Auburn, Arkansas, Mississippi State and two games against Kentucky. But at least they were right on the outside. Just win the games they were favored to win, and it’s just down to the five toss-up games. Win four or maybe even just three of those games and the Bulldogs might have the resume to get into the big dance.
The loss to Texas A&M has made their route to the NCAA Tournament twice as difficult if not impossible. Now they really can’t afford a loss to Alabama, LSU or Texas. They probably need to sweep those five toss-up games with Florida, Carolina, Mississippi State, Auburn or Arkansas because it might be too much to ask that Georgia beat Kentucky.
Georgia basketball entered the 2016-17 season with the goal of not only winning 20 games again and making the NCAA Tournament, but the main goal was to build on the previous three years. If Georgia wins 20 games this season, but settles for the NIT, that would not be building on success, that would mean that the program has become stagnant.
Four straight 20-win seasons and only one NCAA Tournament birth is great considering where the program was just 10 years ago. But at some point you can’t just be satisfied with making the post-season. You want to be in the NCAA Tournament more often than not.