What’s the next level of desperation after “must-win”?
“Have to win”? “Please, any sort of win”?
Whatever it is, Georgia is there as the Bulldogs prepare to take on the Texas Longhorns in the Big 12/SEC Challenge this afternoon at Stegeman Coliseum (4:00 p.m., ESPN, Bulldog Radio Network).
First there was last weekend’s last minute collapse against Texas A&M. Then Mark Fox’s team never really came out of the locker room in an 80-60 midweek home loss to Alabama. The Hoop Hounds stand 12-8, 4-4 in the SEC, and have a Tuesday night date in Rupp Arena with #4 Kentucky. Next weekend they play at #23 South Carolina before returning home to face #25 Florida.
In other words, Georgia just lost the two conference games that would have made going 1-2 in the upcoming stretch tolerable, if a little disappointing. Fox’s squad now sits at a crossroads at which their season could easily go rambling down a really bad path. Truly, since Georgia was unable to hold a lead against Florida in Gainesville on January 14th, this team hasn’t really had much of anything go right. If it’s true, as they say, that you make your own luck the ‘Dawgs just don’t seem to have all the right parts or have lost the instruction manual.
If there’s a team against whom they can right the ship, this is it. Texas is 8-12 on the season, 2-6 in the Big 12. They’re also 0-5 in road contests this season. Long sophomore guard Tevin Mack leads the Longhorns with 14.8 points per game this season. But he’s been suspended for the last four games due to an undisclosed violation of team rules. In his absence, freshman big man Jarrett Allen has stepped up his game significantly, including a 22 point effort against #2 Kansas last weekend (the ‘Horns ultimately fell 79-67).
Shaka Smart is working to mold a team approach in Austin, and eventually I think he’ll succeed. But for now the Longhorns should be vulnerable on the road. The question is whether the equally fragile Bulldogs are in a position to take advantage of it. Until later . . .