The first time Georgia (14-11, 7-11) and Alabama played this year the Tide broke a school record by hanging 115 points on the Dawgs in a lopsided 33-point win. No matter how riveting Nate Oats’s pregame speech might have been, you can’t tell me that the Crimson Tide players didn’t come into their matchup with Georgia a little less focused on the task at hand than they should have been. How else do you explain the fact that after 10 minutes of play, Bama had just 1 three-pointer, 6 turnovers and trailed Georgia 20-13? Georgia managed to take a 36-30 advantage into the break after a chaotic 20 minutes in which these two teams combined for 25 turnovers.
The problem, however, is that Bama simply has a more talented team, and when one team is just plain better, there’s not a lot that can be done. The Dawgs shot better from the field (47%) and from beyond the arc (42%) than their SEC season averages. Georgia played carelessly and turned the ball over 20 times, but Alabama didn’t value the ball either as the Tide had 22 turnovers. Free throw shooting wasn’t great for Tom Crean’s team this afternoon as they hit 13 of 23; however, UGA has made only 69% from the line this year in conference play, so even if they shot like they have been, that’s just 3 extra points from the stripe, which wouldn’t make up the deficit in today’s 89-79 loss.
Not to state the obvious, but the Tide are a really good team, hence the SEC regular season championship. Bama has 3 players projected to go into the NBA in the next two years, according to NBADraft.net. The Tide had 5 players finish in double-figures and 4 players make at least 2 triples; Villanova transfer Jahvon Quinerly, who led the Tide with 18 points, may be their most dynamic offensive player and he comes off the bench. Bama’s second half offense took me back to what transpired in Tuscaloosa as the Tide connected on over 63% from the floor and 80% from the perimeter.
Nobody likes moral victories, but considering UGA was beat by 21 points by a lackluster South Carolina team on this same court a week ago, the fact that Georgia had this contest down to a one-possession game with a little over a minute remaining is somewhat remarkable in itself. Don’t lose sight of the fact that this UGA team won two more SEC games than they did a year ago when they had Anthony Edwards and Rayshaun Hammonds. The nucleus of this squad is coming back next year and there’s no reason to think that they won’t make even more progress.