Georgia was in control of Saturday’s game against Texas A&M for roughly 38 minutes. In the game’s final two minutes, all it needed to do was get the ball up the court, draw some fouls and hit its free throws.
The Bulldogs could never get the ball up the court.
Texas A&M pressed and forced Georgia into four consecutive turnovers. The Aggies rallied as a result and stole a 63-62 win from Georgia.
It was a frustrating way to lose, and that doesn’t even factor in the clock confusion on the game’s final possession. In subsequent practices, getting the ball up the floor in those situations was addressed, with the hope that Georgia will be better prepared in those situations moving forward.
“We know what we need to do to be better, and we will,” senior guard J.J. Frazier said after the Bulldogs prepared to host Alabama at 9 p.m. on Wednesday.
Georgia head coach Mark Fox lamented the way the game ended. Two offensive fouls ended possessions in the final four minutes. He said much of the issues with inbounding the basketball down the stretch had to with mistakes Georgia made — one came on a slow pass and another occurred when Frazier couldn’t handle one.
Not helping matters was the fact Texas A&M forward Robert Williams took away much of the baseline with his height and length, forcing the inbounds pass into the near corner farthest away from Georgia’s basket.
While Georgia has worked on correcting those late-game inbounding problems, Fox admitted there were decisions he’d like to have back near the end.
“I think you look back at every game and in hindsight say, ‘Man, we maybe could have done this,’ ” Fox said. “Every game you look at that. A&M, I could’ve done a couple of things differently. I’m not blaming the players. We all could have done some things differently. You do that after every game but you can’t live through the rear-view mirror.”
Fox told his players afterward that he could have done a better job coaching in the closing moments. But as sophomore forward E’Torrion Wilridge said, players still have to make plays in crunch time.
“It’s really on us too. We’re the ones out there who have to execute,” Wilridge said. “He puts us in the spot to be successful but we just have to do it.”
Georgia will certainly face pressure defenses in upcoming games, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if a few upcoming opponents throw something similar since Texas A&M had so much success doing so.
Frazier said this is an area the Bulldogs must grow from so that history doesn’t repeat itself.
“At the end of the day it’s a learning experience for us,” Frazier said. “We have to get better there. That’s something where the first time we were in that situation we didn’t handle well. The next time we’re in that situation it will be better.”
When Georgia left Texas A&M following the stunning defeat, Fox said he saw his team upset at what transpired.
Since returning to Athens, he’s seen a team do its part to forget the loss and move forward. With games against Alabama and Texas upcoming, there is no time to dwell on the final two minutes of last Saturday’s game.
“I think what I’ve seen is obviously we had some very disappointed young men,” Fox said. “But they came back and stuck together and went back to practicing yesterday like we hoped they would. I’m sure they were having a lot of conversations in the locker room and when they’re on the campus bus. We have good people on this team and hopefully they’re saying the right things.”