It's more than that.
Games against Kentucky have been and always will be a measuring stick for Georgia. This is a program that has never figured out how to have two seasons of success in a row in the last decade in a half without the NCAA intervening. At this moment this season doesn't look like much of a success, either. After tonight's loss the Dawgs have slipped to 10-10 overall and 1-5 in SEC play.
A post-season tournament seems difficult to envision at this moment.
Contrast tonight's sinking feeling with the optimism of last year's win here over the Cats. Georgia was 1-0… on the precipice of turning things around once in for all in their beleaguered basketball program. Georgia did get to the NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection for the first time in the last nine years, which was a major accomplishment.
But tonight is a long way away from last year – it feels light years away.
Tonight makes you wonder: When will Georgia turn the corner in basketball? Will it ever turn the corner in basketball? Nights like this one make those very good questions.
Georgia either cannot or will not maintain success in basketball. There are no excuses as to the reason(s) why. We are told the basketball facility is one of the finest in the land. The state is hemorrhaging with talent… since 2005 Scout.com has ranked 52 players from Georgia in their annual Top 100 list. Three – Mike Mercer, Trey Thompkins and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – have signed with the Dawgs.
That's a really, really bad sign.
The person who hired Mark Fox – Damon Evans – proclaimed the day he hired the former Nevada coach that Georgia's basketball program needed to recruit nationwide and in doing so showed his lack of understanding about basketball recruiting. Why would a national-recruiting strategy work if a statewide-recruiting strategy wasn't?
The Bulldogs have won only 37 conference games since the 2005 season – that's the worst in the SEC… by far. Is this all Fox's fault - no, not exclusively. But he got the praise last year, and he will get the heat this year... it comes with the territory.
Georgia fans have stuck in there as much as can be expected. And yet, again, one has to wonder why it is so hard to win at Georgia in basketball.
Not having the answer as to why it is so hard to win here does not make the reality of it being so difficult to win acceptable.