Like It Is

Bulldogs had no bite in Fayetteville

Georgia coach Mike White is shown during a game against Arkansas on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023, in Fayetteville.

If it had been a game of H-O-R-S-E, Georgia would have only lost by five letters.

Instead, the Bulldogs looked like a football school in the 97-65 loss.

The turning point wasn’t the opening tip, but it was close.

It was a game for all of 20 seconds. That’s how long Georgia led the Razorbacks before the talent kicked in. The home team led by as much as 23 in the first half and took a 43-23 advantage into intermission.

The Bulldogs got a three-point play for a 3-2 lead and then the Razorback avalanche began.

Arkansas controlled the boards, the ball and the tempo.

Want to know the difference in talent? Arkansas’ bench had 22 halftime points, outscored just one by the entire Georgia team, and seven of the eight Hogs who played scored in the first half.

If there is a word to describe this team, a word Eric Musselman loves, a word fans appreciate and a word that’s difference maker is unselfish.

Freshman Anthony Black had more assists, eight, than he did shots, seven. The team had 26 on 37 field goals.

Arkansas’ defense, which let up in the second half, forced the referees to get too involved and call ticky-tack fouls, so the Razorbacks’ momentum waned, but the Bulldogs didn’t match the Hogs’ first half scoring until there was 9:29 left to play.

The game was over almost from the start, but the officials — using the term loosely — acted like they were getting paid by the minute. This is the time of the year when teams are supposed to be getting ready for the physical play of the NCAA Tournament.

The Bulldogs struggled on both ends of the court. They couldn’t go over or around the Razorbacks and made just eight of 22 field goals in the first half.

It was a big night for NCAA bubble teams. Arkansas and Missouri are looking to ensure they are in March Madness and improve seeding as well.

Some experts think Texas A&M is a bubble team, but the second-place team in the SEC beat No. 11 Tennessee on Tuesday night, and if that doesn’t outweigh a December loss to Wofford then nothing will.

In fact, don’t count the Aggies out of the SEC regular-season championship after what happened Tuesday at Alabama. The Tide had already lost Darius Miles on capital murder charges, but it was revealed a gun was delivered to him by freshman Brandon Miller, who is projected as a lottery pick in the NBA Draft this summer.

Miller is the leading scorer in the SEC, averaging 18.7 points per game.

He was not charged with anything Tuesday, and according to Tuscaloosa Police, may not be. Although Miller’s car was hit twice by gunfire. It definitely is another shadow over a program that appears good enough to win the national championship.

Missouri kept its hopes alive with a 66-64 overtime win over Mississippi State.

Arkansas moved to 8-7 in SEC play and is most likely one win away from a NCAA Tournament bid, but the Hogs’ final three games are at Alabama and Tennessee before closing the season at home against Kentucky.

Three of the Razorbacks’ league losses were by three points, but the return of Nick Smith has put them back on the radar, and the Tide, with off-the-court issues, will need to be on top of their game this Saturday.

Tuesday night’s win was critical for the Hogs because Georgia is ranked No. 131 in the NCAA NET rankings, and while the win most likely won’t move the No. 19 Razorbacks up, they shouldn’t fall much either.

A win over No. 2 (NET) Bama and No. 3 (NET) Tennessee could boost them as much as two spots in the NCAA Tournament seedings.