Georgia loses to Florida — and the NCAA tease continues

Georgia coach Mark Fox calls timeout but couldn't stop another second-half slide.

Georgia coach Mark Fox calls timeout but can't stop another second-half slide. (AP photo)

(UPDATED AT 10 p.m.)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Looking for the one victory that could lead fans to exclaim “We’re in!” and the NCAA tournament committee to place Georgia’s resume on the stack of 68, the Bulldogs instead prolonged the debate and the agony.

The Bulldogs were good enough at times Thursday night to lead 13th-ranked Florida on the road by 11 points. They also were inconsistent and panicky enough to melt down in the second half, go cold, let up on defense and lose.

Does the NCAA give style points for teases?

The Dogs lost to Florida 71-62 at the O’Connell Center. They are now 1-5 this season against ranked teams – the only win coming over Kentucky in January.

There is no shame in losing in Gainesville. But the lead-and-wilt act can wear on even the most optimistic fans. Also, the head coach.

“We’re not the most mature group when it comes to handling success,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “I think our leadership in [that area] has got to improve.”

Georgia is 18-9. This is how close they could be to 20 wins. They have led at halftime in the past six games but are only 3-3 (the losses coming to Xavier, Vanderbilt and Florida). Fox said the common thread is Georgia lost the rebounding battle in the second half. Guard Travis Leslie pointed to a slip in attitude, not a statistic.

“We’ve just got to keep grinding and keep fighting,” he said. “If we’re going to be in that situation, we can’t get comfortable and let teams back in it. If things [stop] going our way, we can’t start getting overly concerned have things start falling apart.”

The Dogs committed 13 turnovers to Florida’s five and were outscored in points off turnovers 23-5. There’s the game.

They played a solid first half, leading by as many as 11 points (31-20) and by seven (33-26) at the intermission. But Florida came out strong in the second half. Forward Chandler Parsons, who missed the last game with a bruised thigh, came off the bench and gave Florida a lift, scoring seven of the team’s first nine points and tied the game at 35-all on a 3-point shot.

The fast pace turned to Florida’s advantage. The Dogs had trouble handling the Gators’ press, turnovers led to fast breaks, and the Gators took a 52-46 lead with eight minutes remaining. After making only two 3-point shots in the first half, Florida made three consecutive in one stretch of the second half to take their biggest lead, 63-53, with five minutes left.

That pretty much was it. Georgia didn’t get closer than four points the rest of the way. The Dogs made only one field goal (1-for-8) in the final four minutes.

They were coming off an impressive victory at Tennessee, but a win in Gainesville would easily have been the best on their resume. Instead, they’ve now lost 14 of the past 16 meetings to Florida. That’s one-sided enough that maybe the basketball series should be moved to Jacksonville.

At 18-9, a tournament berth certainly is within reach. They should win the next two regular-season games against South Carolina (Saturday)  and LSU (next week), before finishing with Alabama before the SEC tournament.

A win Thursday night could have removed all doubt. A projected NCAA bracket by ESPN this week had Georgia as a precarious No. 10 seed in the East Regional. Their record creates just enough discomfort to spell the “bubb” in “bubble” team.

They’ve prolonged the debate for at least another week.

By Jeff Schultz

Last 3 posts (no charge)

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Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

188 comments Add your comment

Top Dawg

February 24th, 2011
9:11 pm

I’m beginning to question Fox’s conditioning of this team…and it’s heart! Pathetic with all the talent we’re supposed to have.

Ron

February 24th, 2011
9:13 pm

They are not a TOURAMENT TEAM.

IlliniDawg

February 24th, 2011
9:19 pm

This team is simply not that good.

Fox seems to be a good tactician, but these guys are Felton’s players, and, for the most part, are “athletic” and nothing else. Stupid decisions, poor fundamentals, and a lack of mental toughness are the hallmarks of Georgia basketball over the past decade. Not until Fox has a chance to clean house and recruit his own players will we have a clear indication if UGA basketball is moving in the right direction. For that reason alone, I almost hope that Leslie and Thompkins declare for the draft. Time to move on.

athdog

February 24th, 2011
9:19 pm

Face it boys, they are still, for the most part, Felton’s players. There’s a reason he’s not here anymore, probably several. We are still in need of a talent upgrade, and Fox is doing it, one year at a time.

kaput

February 24th, 2011
9:20 pm

IlliniDawg

February 24th, 2011
9:21 pm

Wow, athdog – we had the same idea! I agree, obviously, and am looking at least two years down the road.

5150 UOAD

February 24th, 2011
9:23 pm

But But But It was a Moral victory from the dawgs on thelive game blog. Fox and Richt really need to get in LEEBURNS bed. It would get them wins just like the GYM DAWGS.

Don Imus

February 24th, 2011
9:24 pm

These Tattoed Dawgs cant win the big ones.

Dawgs are Done

February 24th, 2011
9:26 pm

NIT here we come !

Gordon

February 24th, 2011
9:27 pm

Georgia is in if they just win their two home games against weak opponents. I’m a Tech fan, so they look like the Harlem Globetrotters to me. At least one team from our state will get in.

huh?

February 24th, 2011
9:27 pm

1-5 against ranked teams and they’re in???….. pathetic…..if they do get in they won’t last long….

Dan

February 24th, 2011
9:28 pm

Fox has been here for less than two complete years and the Dawgs ain’t won every game by 50!!!! FIRE HIS NON COACHING ARSE NOW!!!!

Guess what Sports Fans! It can take a while to take a team from the bottom, which is where the Dawgs were, to be a constant competitor in the SEC and the NCAA.

Worm

February 24th, 2011
9:31 pm

OK, as a former hoopster, this team has problems..
We are first half world beaters…Patient ,run the offense and rebound.
Second half-The other team turns up the heat and goes into their press which always cost us at least 2-3 timeouts and several turnovers.
Coach, do you NOT see the pattern here..A PRESS always “surprises” us.
The other team changes their offensive plan and ALWAYS shoots a high % in the second half..
We are a “Scared” basketball team in the second half and that’s a reflection on the Coach.
We freewheel the first half and are “Coached” the second…Let the athletes LOOSE!

[...] Gators welcome Bulldogs to GainesvilleMiamiHerald.comLSU is getting betterHouma CourierAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog) -Monroe News Star -Orlando Sentinel (blog)all 222 news [...]

IlliniDawg

February 24th, 2011
9:42 pm

@Worm: the problem is in fact the “athletes” as you so call them. They can play street ball with the best of them. But when the game gets intense and the pressure rises, and the situation calls for a more calculated approach to the game, these guys fold like the deck chairs on the Titanic. They are an undisciplined, mentally flacid, bunch of p******. Leslie and Thompkins won’t get off the bench in the NBA. But I sure hope they try, so the rebuilding process can begin.

bravedawg

February 24th, 2011
9:55 pm

Schultz you and Bradley need to make your minds up, one week they are definitely in, and the next week they are definitely out… let’s let the season play out and we’ll see… truth is you aren’t on the selection committee so who gives a d**** what your opinion is…

BJH

February 24th, 2011
10:03 pm

Win 2 of the next 3 with one win in the conference tourney and we’re in.
period.

Dino

February 24th, 2011
10:06 pm

With 1 more quality win, UGA’s in the NCAAs, but they will probably go out in round 1. Fox better get it together next year or he will not be around long.

Dog Island Gator

February 24th, 2011
10:06 pm

Hey, thanks. Didn’t know the Gators dominate the pups in basketball just like football, baseball,swimming, ect. But the pups are ranked in softball.

paw

February 24th, 2011
10:06 pm

UGA is not worthy of going dancing. Should be a nice road team for in the NIT. Looks like the Mark Fox honeymoon is about to end. Same talent last year and finished belly up in the weak East.

zzzzzzzz

M

February 24th, 2011
10:09 pm

Hey boy, let’s talk about those jackets. 30-74 the last few years in the acc lol…and you pro-techie ajc writers want Richt fired hahahaha

Skeezix

February 24th, 2011
10:09 pm

This is definitely a program on the upswing but they are still on the bubble.

sarfdawg

February 24th, 2011
10:10 pm

Of course, leave it to Schultz to stick it to Georgia whenever he can.

Bottom line is that this team is going to make the NCAA Tournament whether Schultz likes it or not. This is a testament to what Fox has been able to do in two years. Thompkins is hardly a 1st rounder, and their post is awful. One more solid recruiting class, and this team will contend for bigger and better things.

Buzz 2010

February 24th, 2011
10:10 pm

Enjoy the NIT experience!!

RaleighDawg

February 24th, 2011
10:13 pm

This is all about coaching – or the lack thereof. I can only hope some unsuspecting team buys the Fox hype and lures him away before UGA basketball has been completely undone.

scott

February 24th, 2011
10:14 pm

Dino,
you are a moron! your comment does not even deserve a reply, I’ll leave it at that. program was about to collapse and he comes in to take them to tourney in 2nd year, now his job on the line:) HA! Read a book.

They will win last two home games, and I think beat Bama too. 21-11 and sec tourney coming up, maybe get to 22 wins. I think this group is good enough to get 2nd-3rd round. Lets not forget ND (one of best teams in country) it took them 2ot’s to beat us.

Verne

February 24th, 2011
10:21 pm

Is Trey T. the most overated player in the SEC? I think so….

ChattaDawg

February 24th, 2011
10:23 pm

hey Buzz,

We will enjoy the NIT experience watching it between the DAWGS games in the NCAA

Lindz

February 24th, 2011
10:24 pm

Ok Bama, Carolina and LSU all suck. Winning any of those games aint gonna get us sh*t. Well bounce out of the first round and the friggin Gates will be in the sweet 16 or worse…tired of losing to them damn it

ChattaDawg

February 24th, 2011
10:28 pm

Raleigh,

Lack of coaching..Really? Lack of heart by our big guys is more accurate. Price can’t play defense. Tompkins too worried about NBA

TRUE BLUE

February 24th, 2011
10:32 pm

When has GEORGIA had a really true point guard. The guards are terrible ball handler. They can’t shoot the three or pass the ball low in the post.Tre’ had position all night on the offensive end but the guards couldn’t get him the ball. It took Mr. Leslie to get him the ball. Plus as team they can’t REBOUND or block anybody out. They look great in the first half , but the second half a totally different team.

Verne

February 24th, 2011
10:32 pm

Thomkins should be worried about the NBA. Where do I start…. He lacks heart, stregnth, he’s about 1 for his last 100 from 3 point range. How many times has he turned the ball over on an inbounds play? Poor decision making is probably his biggest fault. Perhaps he looked so good the last two years because there was no one else. Now that other’s have stepped up he’s pressing and it shows. He should have gone to the NBA last year and someone woudl have taken a chance. I don’t see why anyone would draft him before the second round.

RaleighDawg

February 24th, 2011
10:33 pm

ChattaDawg – I am in 100% agreement with you about JP and Trey…but who makes out the lineup and who leaves these guys in there ? These are Fox’s decisions. There are no consequences from Fox for not playing D, not hustling, or making continued boneheaded plays (like Gerald dribbling off the back of his foot at least three times tonight). These guys know they are playing 30+ minutes no matter what. Fox has GOT to instill a sense of PRIDE in these guys…or failing that, at least start playing the young guys and try to get the team ready for next year.

Abnerish

February 24th, 2011
10:34 pm

Our starters simply get tired. They can’t sustain the energy for 40 mins.

Upstate Dawg

February 24th, 2011
10:39 pm

“Bubble talk” for teams with RPIs below 40 is just job security for journalists. As BJH says, if we win two of the next three, we’re in. Since the rest of the East will be playing each other, it’s also likely we move up in the seeding. Basketball is a long season and March will be eventful for this team. Go Dawgs.

Hairy Dawg

February 24th, 2011
10:40 pm

If Fox gets us into the tournament, it will be a very successful year for our basketball program. We haven’t been good enough over the years for fans to p*** on this team. I don’t like some of what I see. Those second-half collapses have been consistent, so it’s obviously a problem with the personnel. Fox can only sub in so many guys. At some point, the leaders on the team, the older folks, have to nut up and take some control out on the floor. Until then, these problems will continue.

Nevertheless, a flawed team making the NCAA Tournament is better than the usual flawed teams going nowhere that we’ve seen around these parts.

Gen Neyland

February 24th, 2011
10:42 pm

I think UGA will make the NCAA Tourney. A strong finish to the regular season and a good showing in the SEC Tourney locks them. They have weaknesses but that’s a story for another day. IMO, they’ll make it…

Dawgy Boy

February 24th, 2011
10:45 pm

Fire Mark Fox!!! We Suck

joe

February 24th, 2011
11:16 pm

Thompkins has not improved from last year to this year. In fact he has regressed. Can’t blame it on his sprained ankle from 3 months ago. Overrated !!

Dawgy Boy

February 24th, 2011
11:23 pm

Oh yea! I forgot to say that I’m an idiot too!

Jeff Schultz

February 24th, 2011
11:25 pm

Bravedawg — Actually, I’ve been pretty consistent saying I thought Georgia would win 20 games and make the tournament. I haven’t backed off that at all. And the next time you resort to name-calling, you’re outta here.

Dino

February 24th, 2011
11:25 pm

“Dawgy Boy And I’m the kind of guy who likes men”

Well you’re my kind of guy sweetie!
Wanna go to a tickle pile?

Jeff Schultz

February 24th, 2011
11:25 pm

BJH- I agree, that should do it.

Jeff Schultz

February 24th, 2011
11:28 pm

Sarfdawg — Enlighten me, oh wise one. What in this column did you find inaccurate or overly negative? Tell me what I said that players or Mark Fox didn’t say himself. Or is it just fun to take shots with no basis of facts behind phony screen names? Yeah, that must be it.

Tuna

February 24th, 2011
11:29 pm

Georgia’s starting 5 in a nutshell:

Ware – respectable ball-handler with a pretty 3-point touch which has disappeared inexplicably in the last several games.
Robinson – Erratic on offense, often out of control. Defensive liability.
Price – Stepped up his game big-time offensively this year. Defensively, not so much.
Leslie – Gives max effort on offense most of the time, aggressive, still lacks consistency on perimeter shooting. Defensive liability.
Thompkins – Lack of effort. Had injuries early in the season but just looks lazy right now. Marginally-effective right under the hoop, just plain ugly outside. Extreme defensive liability.

NIT team, in my opinion (as a Georgia fan). NCAA bid, then Fox should get coach of the year with this bunch.

Panic Artists

February 24th, 2011
11:29 pm

Schultzie writes a blog, and everyone panics. Wow, nothing changes around here. Florida is a lock for a 3 seed, and pushing close to a 2 now….they ARE a very good team. I actually think they could beat just about anyone on a neutral floor, except perhaps Duke. Dawgs have Gators on the ropes until Florida shoots the lights out of the gym in the 2nd half on THEIR home court. What is the shame in this loss?…if for one am not feeling the panic everyone else is feeling. What I saw tonight was a REALLY good team go ‘en fuego’ from behind the arc at home, and the Dawgs were in it the whole way…Travis played really well, and Trey did offensively too (Trey’s D is another story). RELAX. Fox will get the hounds ready for a run here in the next 2 weeks. And Schultzie, I love your columns bro and you know football like its no one’s business….but hoops..that’s MB’s ichiban

Just like Football...

February 24th, 2011
11:29 pm

All you inbread redneck hillbillies rant and rave about Fox and how good the UGAY Basketball team was going to be in 2012.Now all you Leghumpers want to throw everybody under the bus( ie Mark Richt). Face it girls, UGA SUCKS AT EVERYTHING!

Ryno in Athens

February 24th, 2011
11:34 pm

Well, If you would’ve told me that we would split the two between Tennessee and Florida these past two games, I’d have been a fool to be greedy enough to be angry that we didn’t sweep them. As much as this game did mirror alot of these that are so close, I think the Dawgs are sitting pretty darn good right now. The “No Bad Loss” stat has to be impressive. I mean, we have three fewer bad losses than Florida, who has three. So, take care of business against SC and LSU, and I think we’re in great position. Win at ‘Bama and it’s a done deal, just like it would’ve been had we won tonight.

Ryno in Athens

February 24th, 2011
11:37 pm

You mean inbred, JUST LIKE FOOTBALL? Learn how to spell big boy.

BK ...hold the onions

February 24th, 2011
11:38 pm

Jeff you do an outstanding job. I enjoy reading your blog.Good night.