Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Paging Dr. Heimlich

Thursday February 17, 2011

Let’s get this out of the way – the Dawgs didn’t kill their postseason chances in last night’s loss to Vanderbilt. Bubble teams can and do lose to better teams, and the bracketology calculus knows that. Even if Georgia was a prohibitive favorite, it’s ridiculous to say that Georgia lost a game they should have expected to win.

No, what hurt is another missed opportunity to help erase the doubt and end the speculation about Georgia’s postseason. That didn’t happen, and with chances running out for significant wins, that uncertainty will likely be there right through Selection Sunday.

Let’s also get this out of the way – the Dawgs didn’t lose because of the refs. Mark Fox can throw his end-of-game tantrum to whatever end, and the crowd that’s never seen a correct call made against Georgia can boo and throw things. They were the same refs when Georgia was building its 14-point lead, and they didn’t put a lid on Georgia’s basket the final eight minutes of the game.

Vandy won the same way they did in Nashville: turn Georgia into a jumpshooting team and control the paint. Festus Ezeli scored just 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting, but it was his 12 rebounds and 7 blocks that set the tone inside. Price and Barnes had 9 points and just 5 rebounds between them. The Commodores were equally effective shutting down Trey Thompkins who finished with 8 points. Meanwhile, Vandy played to their strengths on the perimeter, finally got the shots falling, and learned how to close out a game on the road.

For the second-straight game, Georgia led at halftime thanks in large part to a sluggish start by their opponent. Vandy did a little better than South Carolina’s 9 points, but the visitors were just 8-of-37 (22%) in the first half. Yet Georgia led by only six at the break. They extended that lead thanks to an early second half run, but the outside shots soon stopped falling. Georgia’s streaky success outside temporarily masked the fact that they couldn’t play to their strengths inside, and they didn’t have much to fall back on as Vanderbilt made their run.

It’s pretty clear now that Georgia isn’t going to transform into a beast of a team with a ton of momentum heading into the postseason. Thompkins is banged up, and the book is out on everyone else with few signs of improvement over the past month. The rest of the season is going to be a mix of frustration, occasional brilliance, and still more close finishes. They lack a go-to player for those close finishes, and that also won’t change down the stretch. Georgia still has legitimate NCAA Tournament hopes, and we’re just going to have to grind out these last few games and see which ones the Dawgs can take.

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