It was all over.
Fans were barking, players were pumping fists and commentators were discussing whether Georgia would have the legs to play four games in four days to win the SEC tournament.
Hell, even Travis Leslie had seemingly put a stamp on Georgia’s inevitable victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide on Friday with a signature dunk on an alley-oop pass from Gerald Robinson.
And then—roll Tide.
It was a long con, and we were just gullible enough to avoid recognizing the one simple fact about this Georgia basketball team.
It just wasn’t good enough.
Georgia’s 14-point lead withered to a tie and a last-ditch heave from Dustin Ware was called off when head coach Mark Fox inexplicably called a timeout. With that lead, any certainty of an NCAA tournament birth and the hopes of the Bulldog Nation were eliminated.
Such has been this season of what-ifs for Georgia basketball.
What we thought we’d see this year was an experienced team taking the next step in its transition from SEC court jester to perennial contender. Instead, we got a team unsure of its identity, struggling with the pressures of being a tournament contender.
We have watched all season as this team has taken sizable first-half leads over top-tier opponents like potential No. 1 seed Notre Dame and regular season SEC champion Florida.
But with each lead came a second-half meltdown full of costly turnovers, forced shots and missed free throws. Even pre-season SEC player of the year, Georgia standout Trey Thompkins, has seemed unable to handle the pressures of protecting a lead.
He turned the ball over four times against the Crimson Tide, the majority of which occurred in crucial moments down the stretch.
Let me be clear: this is a team with top-20 potential. We have seen it throughout the season.
But potential and the ability to string 20 minutes of solid basketball together do not make a team successful.
All that means is that the team is immature, inconsistent and, ultimately, incapable of succeeding at a high level.
Now the team, as well as its fans, must sit and anxiously await the announcement on Sunday of teams selected to play in the tournament.
With a win, it would have been a done deal.
Not so anymore.
The committee will pore over stats, wins and losses, RPI, and records against top opponents.
That’s fine, and Georgia may still have a chance.
But for my money, nothing beats the eye test.
And from what I’ve seen, these Bulldogs just aren’t good enough.
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