Georgia has proven it can play with the SEC’s top three teams, having lost by single digits in losses against Kentucky, Florida and South Carolina.
But there has been one constant in those games in Georgia’s past five defeats: the opposition has been able to hit the 3-point shot at a high clip. In last Saturday’s 77-75 loss at South Carolina, the Gamecocks made 11-of-24 3-pointers, which became a huge difference in the outcome. Kentucky’s Malik Monk made 7-of-11 3-pointers in the Wildcats’ overtime victory.
Georgia led Florida, on the road in Gainesville, for more than 35 minutes but could never pull away thanks to the Gators’ ability to make 39.1 percent of its 3-point buckets. Even Texas A&M was decent from behind the arc with 36.8 percent of its 3-pointers falling. And then in Georgia’s most lopsided loss of the season, a 20-point defeat to Alabama, the Crimson Tide sank nine of their 15 3-pointers for a 60 percent average.
Georgia will face Florida at home Tuesday in a rematch from its Jan. 14 game. And a focal point to slow the Gators down will be to limit perimeter opportunities. Florida forward Canyon Barry had one of his best games of the season against Georgia by going 5-of-8 shooting from behind the 3-point line. Keith Stone also made three of his four 3-point attempts.
Georgia’s game against South Carolina last Saturday was similar to its first showing against Florida. Each time Georgia appeared poised for a run, South Carolina knocked down a big shot en route to its 45.8 percent shooting average from the outside.
“When they’re shooting the ball like that around them, it’s hard because you want to guard the 3-point line,” senior guard J.J. Frazier said. “You have to pick your poison.”
ESPN BPI: 70
Team record: 13-10 overall, 4-6 SEC
Non-conference strength of schedule: 28
Overall strength of schedule: 23
Record vs. RPI 1-50: 0-6
Record vs. RPI 50-100: 5-3
Record vs. RPI 101-200: 4-1
CBSSports.com conference RPI rankings: 1. ACC, 2. Big 12, 3. Big East, 4. Big Ten, 5. SEC, 6. Pac-12, 7. American Athletic, 8. Atlantic 10, 9. Mountain West, 10. West Coast
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi: To no one’s surprise, Georgia moved completely off of Lunardi’s list. That’s what two consecutive losses to go with defeats in five of the past seven games will do. But considering the Bulldogs were most recently on Lunardi’s “Next Four Out,” one could conclude that a win over Florida might bump the Bulldogs back into bubble consideration. While Georgia isn’t being considered, Lunardi still has four SEC teams in his field of 68 – Kentucky (No. 3 seed), Florida (No. 3 seed), South Carolina (No. 5 seed) and Arkansas (No. 9 seed).
CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm: Georgia hasn’t been on Palm’s radar for quite a while. Even when Lunardi had the Bulldogs close to in, Palm didn’t. As far as the CBSSports.com bracketologist is concerned, the Bulldogs appear to have a lot of work to do. Palm is not as bullish on the SEC either with only three teams earning entry in his latest field. With SEC bottom-feeder Missouri upsetting Arkansas, Palm moved the Razorbacks completely out of his bracket. Kentucky (No. 4 seed), Florida (No. 6 seed) and South Carolina (No. 6 seed) are also not in as favorable slots compared to Lunardi.
Current state of affairs
Last 10 games: 4-6
Wins that help: What happened Saturday didn’t do Georgia any favors. Not only did the Bulldogs lose, but its lone RPI top-50 win, Vanderbilt, lost as well. But that loss was to Mississippi, a team Georgia also beat. The Rebels are now ranked No. 57 and representative of Georgia’s best win of the season. It didn’t help matters either that Georgia Tech lost to Wake Forest, although if the Yellow Jackets are able to score another upset or two, that will be a win that continues to help. While the Bulldogs don’t hold a top-50 win at the moment, they do have four wins on teams ranked 51-75 (Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Auburn and Georgia Tech). Georgia will need those four teams to keep winning, in addition to winning additional games of its own.
Losses that hurt: Again, Georgia’s loss to Oakland remains a glaring one and perhaps a difference-maker. A record of 14-9 with zero losses outside of the top 100 would look a lot better than 13-10 with a defeat to the RPI No. 148 team. The Texas A&M loss still stings with the Aggies’ RPI at No. 84. Then again, Sagarin looks much more favorably on Texas A&M than other computers with the Aggies receiving a No. 59 ranking.
A look around the SEC: Five teams are in the RPI top-50 in Kentucky (No. 7), Florida (No. 12), South Carolina (No. 18), Tennessee (No. 35) and Arkansas (No. 36). Georgia is the sixth-best RPI team in the SEC at No. 54. Ole Miss (No. 57) and Vanderbilt (No. 60) are the next two to fall in line. While Tennessee is still viewed highly by the RPI, its Saturday loss to Mississippi State could hurt its chances come March. It marked the Volunteers’ first loss to a team ranked outside of the RPI top-100.
What Georgia needs to do this week: At the risk of sounding too dramatic, Georgia is in must-win territory against Florida. The Bulldogs need a win for many reasons. It would be a sure-fire RPI top-50 win that wouldn’t pose a risk of dropping out of the category. It would give Georgia the needed confidence that it can, in fact, beat the teams it’s been competitive with. It would likely move the Bulldogs back into the RPI top-50 while significantly improving its standing with the KenPom and Sagarin computers. It goes without saying that a sweep of Florida and Tennessee this week needs to be in store to keep Georgia’s NCAA Tournament aspirations afloat.