ATLANTA | Georgia ended the regular season leading the Southeastern Conference in field goal percentage defense, but not a single player from the team was selected by the league’s coaches to the SEC all-defensive team this week.
“I thought we’d have somebody on the all-defensive team,” coach Mark Fox said heading into the SEC tournament, where his team played Ole Miss in a quarterfinal game late Friday night.
The top candidate to make the all-defensive team would have been junior forward Marcus Thornton, who led the Bulldogs with 40 blocks. He ranked seventh in SEC play in blocks per game and ninth in defensive rebounding.
Asked if he felt snubbed, Thornton laughed and said: “I can’t comment on that.”
Missouri guard Jabari Brown, a first-team All-SEC selection, played Georgia twice this season in Bulldogs victories. Georgia limited opponents to 39.5 percent shooting in the regular season.
“I feel like they’re a really good defensive team,” Brown said. “That’s the toughest part. Individual defenders are going to get scored on. That’s part of it, but when you’ve got a tight-knit group on the defensive end kind of like Florida, it makes it harder to score the ball.”
The defensive player of the year was Florida’s Patric Young. The other players on the all-defensive team: Florida’s Scottie Wilbekin, Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein, LSU’s Jordan Mickey and Tennessee’s Josh Richardson.
For the selection committee’s consideration
Fox said before the tournament that if his team were to reach the SEC finals, it had a case to be in the NCAA tournament field for finishing tied for second and being in the championship game.
The Bulldogs’ RPI of 76 entering Friday would certainly rise with a run this weekend, but Georgia still could be left out even if it plays on Sunday.
Would the NCAA tournament committee consider that Georgia lost to Kentucky and Vanderbilt while Kenny Gaines, its leading scorer in SEC play, was out with a bruised thigh and was without Brandon Morris due to suspension for the first three games, including losses to Georgia Tech and Davidson?
Fox said he hoped that the SEC office would send that information to the committee.
SEC spokesman Craig Pinkerton said the league keeps that NCAA committee informed on all injuries or suspensions that may affect games and even on delays teams experience due to weather during the season.
“Since the new year when we’ve been whole, we’ve been a pretty good team,” Fox said this week.
Missouri’s Brown said that he thought there were “four or five” NCAA caliber teams in the SEC including his own.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Everyone talks about how bad the SEC is so we’ll see how many get in.”
Florida coach Billy Donovan noted his team has played Memphis, Wisconsin, Kansas and UConn and said “I think this conference is as good as any of those.”
SEC Network airing future tournament games
Georgia’s quarterfinal game Friday night would have been aired only on the new SEC Network if the matchup happened a year from now.
The first three rounds of the SEC tournament starting in 2015 will air only on the SEC Network, which is launching in August.
The syndicated SEC-TV and ESPNU aired early round games this year.
The semifinals today are on ABC at 1 and 3:30 p.m. and the championship game Sunday is at 3:15 p.m. on ESPN.
Each SEC men’s basketball team will play at least eight times on the SEC Network, which will air more than 100 men’s basketball games.
A doubleheader featuring games involving Kentucky and Florida will be on Nov. 14. Opponents are to be determined.
This and that
Georgia’s pursuit of a post player for this signing class continues. Power forward Norense Odiase announced via Instagram Friday evening that he has committed to Texas Tech over Georgia. The power forward from Elev8 Sports Academy is a 3-star prospect by Rivals and 247Sports. …Players, including Brandon Morris, and some staff members visited Thomasville Heights Elementary in Atlanta during their time in the city to stress to kids the value of education, hard work and reaching goals.