This time last week, I would have certainly agreed with that premise. We were coming off two subpar losses against Auburn and Tennessee. Then, for some odd reason, we decided to absolutely hammer a potential NCAA Tournament team (Arkansas) and follow THAT up with an even more improbable win -- arguably Fox's best at UGA -- at #18 Mississippi State. Somewhere in between the Tennessee game and the Arky game, three main things happened:
- Gerald Robinson decided to put the team on his shoulders and largely avoid the "stupid" decisions (I'm knocking on wood heavily right now)
- Marcus Thornton figured out how to contribute: with solid D and rebounding
- We are getting open shots in rhythm, mainly because we are more confident on offense.
Sure, there are other reasons (like Fox unexpectedly installing a matchup zone against MSU) but those three are largely responsible.
The game against 9-15 South Carolina is a short-term "crossroads" game for our team. I would actually say both teams are pretty even (we're probably slightly better), and with a big home game this Sunday against Vandy, tonight is setting up to be a huge "trap game" (despite S.C. coach Darren Horn being squarely on the hot seat). No, I'm not ignoring the first 22 games, but the last two have me intrigued.
So here's the question: Are our last two games a complete fluke or is it genuine improvement? I say a little of both but we should know after tonight's game.
I will leave you with one more intriguing tidbit: by my estimation, the only game left on our schedule in which we have no chance to win is at Kentucky. IF IF IF we win five out of our last six (not that I'm expecting this) we will be 17-13 (8-8) heading into the SEC Tourney. Last season, Tennessee received a 9-seed in the NCAA Tournament after finishing the regular season 18-13 (8-8). Michigan State received a 10-seed after finishing the regular season 17-13 (9-9). We have a top 20 RPI schedule strength...Belmont and Wyoming are currently listed as at-large bubble teams...I'm just sayin'.