I don’t know about anyone else, but coming into this week I was optimistic that the Dawgs might sweep their two conference games – Vandy at home and Auburn on the road.
Unfortunately, I think that the UGA men’s basketball team might have been thinking the same thing, which ended up allowing them to get upset 59-54 by Vanderbilt in front of the largest student crowd of the season.
Coach Mark Fox’s team was playing its second straight game without Kenny Gaines. However, considering that the Commodores currently have just seven scholarship players on their roster, Gaines’s absence is no excuse when playing at home.
UGA looked lost on offense, hitting only 27% of their field goals and going 4 of 17 from beyond the arc. As a team, Georgia only compiled 3 assists – the lowest total of the Mark Fox Era.
The only Georgia player who managed to bring his game to Stegeman on Wednesday was sophomore Charles Mann, who scored 20 points on a 5 for 10 shooting performance from the field. The other starters – Donte’ Williams, Marcus Thornton, Brandon Morris and Juwan Parker – shot a combined 4 of 26 on field goal attempts (15%).
Vanderbilt did not have a spectacular shooting night, but the ‘Dores did knock down their three-pointers, making 8 of 18 from beyond the arc.
Rod Odom, who led Vandy with 16 points and hit 4 three’s, hit several of his shots from the perimeter at very timely moments. With Vanderbilt’s lead at just 36-33 and 7:59 left in the game, Odom buried a three that pushed the Commodore advantage to 6 points.
Later in the half, Georgia trailed again by only 5 points until Odom sunk another monster three that gave the ‘Dores a 44-36 lead with 3:25 remaining. This shot from Odom was a real dagger as UGA never managed to get closer than 4 points, which didn’t happen until only 15 seconds were left on the clock (following a three-pointer from Charles Mann).
Vandy knocked down 14 of 19 free throws in the game’s final minutes and walked out of Athens with the 59-54 victory.
This loss was extremely deflating considering Georgia’s excellent start to SEC play, and it essentially negates UGA’s road win at Missouri.
Now Georgia must hit the road this Saturday and try to steal one back at Auburn – a team that is still searching for its first conference win. While the Tigers are struggling this season, winning away from home is tough no matter who the opponent is in league games.
The Dawgs are 10-9 overall and 4-3 in the conference, and a winning record for the season now appears a lot more difficult to achieve. Without an above-.500 finish, UGA will have a difficult time being selected for any post-season tournaments (namely, the NIT).
Who knows what Georgia’s mindset was entering last night’s contest, but I am thinking that they might have been just as guilty as I was of looking ahead to a 6-2 SEC mark.