The Georgia Bulldogs are expected to make a run toward the NCAA Tournament this year. With Charles Mann, J.J. Frazier, Kenny Gaines and Yante Maten returning, there’s no reason why Mark Fox’s group can’t finish in the top-five of the SEC and make that eventuality possible.
However, Georgia’s Tournament resume took a slight hit in its first game, as the Bulldogs fell to Chattanooga in overtime 92-90. The Mocs — in coach Matt McCall’s first game following the departure of Will Wade to VCU — got big games from returning star senior Casey Jones and newcomer Johnathan Burroughs-Cook, each of whom scored 23. Sophomore Greg Pryor added 18.
This one isn’t totally out of left field, as Chattanooga finished second in the SoCon last year with a 15-3 record in-conference and returned a lot of their talent. In fact, they were one of the favorites in the league this season, and could make an NCAA Tournament run if things break right for them.
But still, losing to a mid-major in the opener isn’t a great look, especially when the energy stats went against the Bulldogs in the way that they did.
After hanging their hat on defense last season, Fox won’t be pleased with the Bulldogs effort on that end in this one. His team gave up 12 3s on 30 attempts to the Mocs, and got destroyed on the glass to the tune of 15 offensive rebounds. They also lost the turnover battle 21-16, as McCall’s group pressured the Bulldogs pretty heavily. The telling stat here came with simply how many more shots the Mocs took than their counterparts, as the Bulldogs were outshot 69-48. That typically means a ton of extra possessions, and that is usually how you can win a game that you aren’t supposed to win.
Overall, this shouldn’t be a resume-buster or anything for the Bulldogs. There’s a downside that Chattanooga ends up outside of the top-150 of the RPI, but the odds are also reasonable that they end up in the top-100. But more than anything, it points to things that Fox will need to fix in the coming weeks in order to get things rolling in Athens.