ATHENS - Mark Fox has preached the long view all season, and he stuck to it Monday, two days after his Georgia basketball team's worst loss of the season.
"We don't have to be perfect. That's not going to happen," Fox said. "You're not gonna win every game, you're going to have some losses, other teams are gonna have some losses too. You've gotta trust that at the end of the year your body of work is gonna be strong enough."
Right now it is for Georgia (16-8 overall, 7-5 in the SEC), despite its home loss to Auburn, a team with a losing record. Thanks to bad losses by other teams, and Georgia's previous performances, it remains in good position, according to updated NCAA tournament projections.
ESPN has Georgia as a No. 8 seed, as did Syracuse.com in brackets posted on Monday. The Bulldogs were a No. 9 seed in Monday’s projection by Jerry Palm of CBSsports.com.
Georgia’s RPI rank entering the week is 32, down 10 spots from where it was before the Auburn loss. But that’s still a decent position to be in at this point in the season.
The last time Georgia made the NCAA tournament, in 2011, its RPI rank was 45 the day of the selection show, and its record against teams in the RPI top 100 was only 5-11.
This year Georgia is 6-5 against RPI top 100 teams, including two wins over top-50 teams (No. 37 Ole Miss and No. 44 Texas A&M). The Bulldogs also have a winning record on the road (5-4, though 0-2 in neutral-site games), and have only two home losses.
While the loss to Auburn (which has an RPI rank of 136) loss is bad, it’s not as bad as some other teams have on their resume’s: Ole Miss lost at home to Charleston Southern (157) and LSU lost at Mississippi State (178) and Missouri (190). Those are just two examples of bubble teams with bad losses to overcome.
Still, Georgia’s body of work is by no means overwhelming. That’s why it needs to avoid any more bad losses, and win at Alabama or Auburn in order to feel safe entering the SEC tournament. A road win at Ole Miss, or the home upset of Kentucky, would probably seal it up.
"I think it's something everybody enjoys, you're in the hunt," Fox said. "You've got to embrace challenge, and I think everyone, players, coaches, fans, should enjoy the fact that you're playing for something."
South Carolina, another team with a losing record, visits Georgia on Tuesday night. This would qualify as a bad loss too, especially since the Bulldogs have Marcus Thornton, unlike when they lost at South Carolina earlier this season.
Thornton has been back for three games, but Fox said the senior post player is "still trying to get back in a groove, post-concussion." That's part of the reason Fox thinks his team has been "disjointed" on offense lately.
"I don't think that we've really been helping each other offensively," Fox said. "I don't think we've been as cohesive an offensive unit as we were earlier. And part of that's due to the fact that we're moving guys around so much. ... We just haven't had the consistency to develop the cohesiveness, and consistent offensive play that we want."
Small forward Juwan Parker, who has missed the past 10 games with an achilles injury, had what Fox called a "minor setback" late last week. Parker will attempt to practice again on Monday, Fox added.
"Juwan is kind of day-to-day, we'll see what kind of progress he makes," Fox said.
Kenny Paul Geno remains in a cast and his return date remains indefinite. The sophomore small forward has missed the past 11 games after wrist surgery.