Saturday was a busy day throughout Bulldog Nation, and not least of all in my household, as today marked the occasion of my daughter’s second birthday party. That combination of major Georgia sporting events with significant personal obligations prevented me from devoting individual writeups to each of three different athletic contests, so I hope you will pardon me for borrowing a page from Inigo Montoya, who once said: "Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up."
Men’s Basketball - LSU Tigers 50, Georgia Bulldogs 48: Mark Fox’s first season concluded without a conference win in a road game. Jeremy Price’s jump shot in the closing seconds likely would have forced overtime, but the basket failed to fall and the Hoop Dogs became just the second SEC victim of an 11-19 Louisiana State squad. The loss left the Fox Hounds stranded as the sixth seed in the Eastern Division, as a result of which Georgia will face the Arkansas Razorbacks in the first round of the SEC tournament in Nashville on Thursday. The Red and Black were beaten by the Hogs in Athens on February 3.
While the Bulldogs generally have played more fundamentally sound basketball under Coach Fox’s direction, and while it is clear that his program will be a contender if it can ever develop adequate depth, the truth is that this was yet another disheartening loss. The Classic City Canines have dropped seven outings this season by margins of four or fewer points, including two in the team’s last four games. Eventually, it becomes necessary to close the deal consistently. I believe that day will come, but today was not that day, and today’s poor effort gave me reason to believe that day will come later rather than sooner.
Gymnastics - Georgia Bulldogs 197.9, UCLA Bruins 197.875: In a clash of longtime powers in the sport, the fifth-ranked Gym Dogs defeated No. 3 UCLA in the meet that made the Red and Black look like contenders once again. The Bruins posted an exceptional 197.875 overall score, which would have been more than adequate to secure the victory on most weekends. The confrontation came down to the final performance of the fourth rotation, when Courtney McCool carded a 9.925 in the floor exercise to put Georgia over the top.
By every measure, it was the finest all-around performance by the Gym Dogs in 2010. UCLA tallied the third-highest score posted in the country this year, and the Gym Dogs beat it by coming through in the end to notch the second-best score earned by any NCAA gymnastics team this season. Grace Taylor put up the first perfect 10 by a Georgia gymnast this year and three Athenian ladies won outright or tied for the lead in three of the four events. Georgia has now won 33 straight meets in Stegeman Coliseum. Jay Clark needed a signature win over a marquee program to show that the Red and Black were not reduced to also-ran status by the departure of Suzanne Yoculan. Now he has just such a victory to his credit.
Baseball - Florida State Seminoles 9, Georgia Bulldogs 2: Second verse, same as the first. Jeff Walters was forced from the mound in the second stanza after having walked six and surrendered three earned runs. The Seminoles exploded in a six-hit, five-run fourth frame that broke the game wide open and the Diamond Dogs managed only a Johnathan Taylor RBI single in the third inning and a Colby May RBI double in the eighth canto.
I know the Classic City Canines are a young team beset by injuries, but this is ridiculous. Brett DeLoach (2 for 3) was the only Bulldog batter to card more than one hit, and, despite drawing six walks, the Red and Black could not manage to push more than two runs across the plate. Georgia played error-free baseball and the final two Bulldog hurlers (Cooper Moseley and Blake Dieterich) combined for four scoreless innings in which they fanned two, walked one, and allowed only a pair of hits. Nevertheless, the Diamond Dogs failed to compete with a quality opponent, and nothing in the Athenians’ last three outings suggests that this squad is up to the task of topping a team with a pulse anywhere other than Foley Field.