The fate of Georgia basketball’s season will depend largely on their performance in the upcoming week and a half.
The Bulldogs got off to a decent start in SEC play with a record of 2-1. They began conference play with a win at Auburn behind a 31-point outing from SEC standout Yante Maten, then took a loss at home to a strong South Carolina team. In their most recent game at home against Missouri, Georgia followed a weak first half that ended in a scuffle among players and coaches with a strong second half led by Maten’s 17 points and J.J. Frazier’s 16.
Georgia will now continue SEC play on the road, heading to Mississippi today. The game against Ole Miss is likely to be a highly-contested matchup, with both teams posting a record of 10-5 so far this season. Ole Miss is 1-2 thus far in SEC play, having faced the two best SEC teams, No. 23 Florida and No. 8 Kentucky. A win on the road against Ole Miss would be an important confidence boost heading into another tough game at rival Florida on Saturday.
Florida has begun the season with an impressive record, going 13-3 overall and 4-0 in the SEC. The Gators have lost to only No. 7 Duke, No. 9 Florida State and Gonzaga, the only remaining undefeated team in Division I men’s basketball. The game against Florida will likely be Georgia’s most difficult test of the season since facing No. 2 Kansas in November. If the Bulldogs can come out of Gainesville with a win, they will gain momentum heading into a home game against Vanderbilt on January 17 and another road game at Texas A&M on January 21.
A win would also greatly improve Georgia’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament this year. The Bulldogs have not made the tournament since 2015. The team is likely to be on the bubble of teams considered for the tournament. They will need to build a resume of success in SEC play and signature wins. A win against Florida would be a good opportunity to boost their resume and gain confidence for the rest of the season.
In order to improve, Georgia will need to see more players step up and become big scorers in addition to standouts Maten and Frazier. Players such as Derek Ogbeide and Juwan Parker have begun to make their case for the role, with Ogbeide averaging 7.3 points per game and Parker with 8.6 points per game.
Georgia’s record in the next week and a half will impact not only their SEC record and case for a spot in the NCAA tournament, but also their level of momentum going down the stretch.