Georgia Bulldogs Basketball: Dawgs Might Be Cursed, and It Might Cost Them

Mike Foster@michaelsfosterCorrespondent IFebruary 17, 2011

photo taken by Curtis Compton,
photo taken by Curtis Compton,

Tonight Georgia dropped another heart breaker at home, continuing what has been one of the strangest and hardest-to-swallow sporting seasons in recent memory for the basketball program.

It's been a season filled with irony, confusion and questioning.

The main question is this: Why?

This time, Georgia fell victim to the Vanderbilt Commodores. We saw a back and forth shooting stretch in the second half that went like this:

Georgia drains three. Vanderbilt drains three.

Georgia makes field goal. Vanderbilt makes field goal.

Georgia drains three. Vanderbilt drains three.

Georgia drains three. Vanderbilt drains three.

As much as Georgia tried to pull away from their SEC East rival, they couldn't. After Vanderbilt followed a Georgia three in the second half at the end of that strange shooting stretch to make the score 50-40, I knew Georgia would let another lead get away.

They have for the past two seasons. Last year it was almost excusable. This season it has been a nagging and draining parasite for a program that had seemed to be on the rise.

Or possibly, heading towards an NCAA tournament. After tonight, Georgia's chances of making the NCAA tournament look slim. They have failed, over and over again, to produce a quality win when on national television.

They have lost countless heart breakers where they have simply been the stepping stone for the victorious to shine on.

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Heading into the season there was an alien sense of excitement surrounding Georgia basketball. Many claimed this was going to be the year for them, mainly because of their star-studded lineup featuring All-SEC players like Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie.

Georgia started the season with an 11-2 nonconference record, which was great, but unimpressive because of multiple single-digit wins over second-tier opponents. They also had a 6-4 SEC record heading into tonight's contest, as well as an 8-2 road record—something unprecedented for UGA hoops.

But, even in one of the brightest seasons for Georgia basketball in nearly two decades, they've found a way to make it a forgettable one.

At least to this point. 

Earlier this season, Georgia blew a double-digit lead to Notre Dame, only to lose in double overtime. At this point, fans were already saying, "Here we go again," referring to the multiple blown leads from the 2009-2010 season.

Then came the home game versus Tennessee, where Georgia lost on a freak play in the final seconds. Volunteers center Brian Williams grabbed a rebound over the back of Georgia forward Chris Barnes and threw up a wild shot that dropped at the buzzer.

No foul was called, culminating a poorly officiated basketball game, according to both fanbases' respective chatter.

After that game, Georgia fans were already complaining the team had zero luck.

Surely, in the Florida game, with just six seconds to go and Georgia up three, they had finally caught a break. 

Roughly five seconds later, Gators point guard Erving Walker dribbled to around 28 feet from the basket and drained a wild prayer shot.

Florida won that game in double overtime.

In the next home game, against Auburn, the Dawgs blew a late lead and needed overtime to beat arguably the worst team in the SEC.

Xavier would make Georgia victim next with an eight point win over the Dawgs at Stegeman coliseum.

Even Georgia's four-point win over South Carolina on Saturday, felt like a loss. They were winning 28-6 at halftime. They allowed 50 second-half points to allow South Carolina back in the game.

Georgia had become experts at blowing leads, and everyone felt it against Vanderbilt tonight when Georgia led by 13 in the second half.

No matter what Georgia has done, they simply have not shown the ability to finish games.

Everything that can go wrong has proven to go wrong.

Tonight Vanderbilt found it's way back into the game thanks to some of the wildest and favorable bounces. What show up on the stat sheets as offensive rebounds and possessions doesn't accurately describe just how lucky Vanderbilt was to even touch the ball as much as they did.

Georgia has continued to get their fair share of extremely questionable calls. 

It has happened every game. Georgia can't get foul calls. The opponent gets lucky.

But, now, Georgia seems so frustrated with this apparent curse that they can't focus.

It's even showing with Mark Fox. The likable coach has spent most of his time with under three minutes to play screaming at referees, making a scene to coincide with the barrage of boos coming from the crowd.

The players have seemed to fade out, late, just as much. Is there a problem with Mark Fox? Does he need to keep more composure?

Or, is Georgia simply in one of the strangest and unthinkable slumps of bad luck in history?

It's strange to claim that in a year where there has not been more excitement around Georgia basketball—with home game after home game selling out—that we all are logging onto blogs and message boards each night with terrible tastes in our mouths.

It's almost been as frustrating as watching the Georgia football team.

Nay. It might be even worse. 

The basketball team has fought to the end in every game, and have come up short every time. 

They have shown zero ability to put away a game, no matter how hard they try, and no matter how crowd pleasing and electric the first 35 minutes of the game are.

And after every single loss the fans have gone home saying the ball would finally bounce UGA's way, and the Dawgs will win a few.

Right now they are 17-8, and need to stay around 10 losses or less to keep their NCAA tournament bubble from popping.

That doesn't bode well for Mark Fox's crew considering their final games include road tests at Tennessee, Florida and Alabama (the SEC West leader).

Fans knew this team would drop some road games in 2010, but they were also confident everything would go right at home.

Not only has everything gone wrong at home, but it's happened in an emotionally draining way—for the fans, coaches and undoubtedly the players.

Georgia must finish the regular season with just one more conference loss, or plan on making a nice SEC tournament run, or they can kiss their NCAA Tournament hopes goodbye.

Is it so strange that as Georgia basketball has improved in the win column, they've become more unbearable to watch?

And with the threat of Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie leaving at the end of the year, could it get better?

This strange stretch of blown leads might hurt the program more than people think. 

It's only a matter of time before people lose faith in what seemingly was a flowering program, and Mark Fox goes from the "savior" to "the guy who can't coach a team to finish a game."

I don't want that, nor do the other fans.

But, that theme will become more inevitable if Georgia can't get some serious luck on their side, starting this weekend in Knoxville.