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The Oakland Golden Grizzlies (2-3), who are strangely from Detroit, Michigan, gave the Georgia Bulldogs (3-2) a scare on Tuesday night in Athens. With 1:13 left in the game, Oakland’s Max Hooper buried his 7th three of the night to tie the game up at 80 apiece.
The Dawgs remained poised, though, hitting their final 6 free throws (Mann, Maten and Frazier), and they managed to hold on for the 86-82 home win.
UGA has had no shortage of tough mid-major competition early this season, and Oakland showed itself to be another worthy adversary. The Golden Grizz entered the season projected to finish 2nd in the Horizon League, and they are led by the league’s Preseason Player of the Year Kahlil Felder, who lived up to that billing this evening in Athens. Felder proved to be a difficult match up all night for the Georgia guards as he scored 23 points to go along with his 5 assists. He and Hooper combined for 10 of the team’s 11 three-pointers, and Oakland connected on nearly 38% of its attempts from beyond the arc as a team.
The Golden Grizz actually boasted a commanding 20-11 lead over the Dawgs midway through the first half, following a pair of free throws from Felder. Georgia, however, picked up the tempo on offense and managed to cut the Oakland lead to 37-34 at the break.
The Dawgs were led offensively by J.J. Frazier, who scored a season-high 23 points to go along with his 6 assists. Frazier had been mired in a shooting slump over the past 3 games that saw him connect on just 19% of his field goal attempts; but, J.J. found his stroke on Tuesday night inside Stegeman, hitting 9 of his 15 shots.
Yante Maten, who appears to be developing into a reliable scorer right before our eyes, followed up his 21-point effort against Seton Hall last Saturday with another 21-point game tonight in Athens. Maten is starting to find some consistency in both his midrange jumper as well at the free throw line, where he sunk 9 of his 10 attempts. He also snagged 9 rebounds, just missing his second double-double of the season.
Though Charles Mann’s start to the season has been a little up and down, he had a nice bounce back game tonight, scoring 15 points to go along with his 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Even more importantly, Mann committed just 2 turnovers this evening (he came into this game averaging nearly 4 per contest).
Probably the biggest surprise of the night for Georgia was freshman Michael Edwards, who scored a career-high 14 points to go along with his 6 rebounds. Edwards kept running the floor and getting into the paint, and his guards rewarded him, leading to several easy dunks and layups for the big man.
After posting back to back sub 30% shooting efforts, UGA has seemingly found some offense over the past week. In the loss to Seton Hall, the Dawgs shot nearly 47% from the floor, and they made almost 53% of their attempts tonight against Oakland.
Maten’s newfound offense is starting to open up better looks for the UGA backcourt triumvirate of Mann, Gaines and Frazier, who shot a combined 58% from the floor on Tuesday.
Coach Mark Fox has a few days to get his team ready to host a revenge-hungry 5-1 Kansas State team whose lone loss this season came at North Carolina back in late November.
Georgia played its best first half of the season, but in the end the Dawgs couldn’t find enough offense to pull off the upset in Newark. Here are some thoughts I had on the game:
Hello Yante Maten
Yante Maten, who has been a relative non-factor through the first 3 games, stepped up and scored a career high 21 points tonight against the Seton Hall Pirates. Maten put together his most complete offensive performance as a Bulldog, showcasing a midrange jump shot that hopefully is here to stay. He also hit 9 of his 11 attempts from the line, helping to keep his within striking distance of the Pirates for much of the night.
Defense takes a step back
Playing primarily man defense for much of the evening, Coach Mark Fox’s team struggled to contain Seton Hall’s guards, allowing Isaiah Whitehead and Khadeen Carrington to finish with 22 and 20 points, respectively. Fox managed to slow the Pirates down late in the second half by switching into a zone with the Dawgs trailing 60-57, and Georgia even pulled to within a point following a pair of free throws from Kenny Paul Geno. However, Whitehead quickly went off for 7 points to send his team up 67-59 with only 29 seconds left, and the Pirates would eventually win 69-62.
Seton Hall killed Georgia on the glass, hauling in 13 offensive rebounds, which contributed to 30 second chance points for the Pirates. Even though UGA shot the ball much better this evening (47%), the Dawgs do not have enough scorers to give opposing teams too many additional opportunities on offense.
Georgia’s backcourt was supposed to be a strength this year
Kenny Gaines hit 5 of his 10 shots and finished with 13 points, but he had to work extremely hard for those attempts. Right now, Gaines is clearly the only scoring threat that UGA has on the perimeter, and defenses are certainly aware of it – Seton Hall defenders were draped over Gaines all night, denying him off the ball for much of the game. Until Charles Mann and J.J. Frazier find some offense, Gaines will continue to be keyed in on by the opposition.
Frazier and Mann are really hurting UGA right now, especially J.J. He made only 2 of his 11 field goal attempts en route to just 4 points, and Frazier is now 6 for his last 32 from the floor. If J.J. cannot start converting more of his shots, then hopefully Coach Fox can convince him to at least take less of them.
Mann continues to bull his way into the defense in the hopes that he gets a whistle, which hasn’t been happening a lot lately. Mann connected on only 2 of his 6 shots, giving him 5 points on the night.
Mark Fox’s team took a page out of the UGA football playbook tonight in Athens, proving that games can in fact be won with little to no offense.
The Dawgs (2-1) surged to a 33-22 halftime lead, riding a 14-5 run into the locker room.
However, Georgia forgot to bring its offense back out for the final twenty minutes. The Dawgs went for nearly 15 minutes without a field goal during the second half before Kenny Gaines knocked down a jumper with 2:35 remaining. The damage was done, though, as the UGA drought allowed High Point to erase Georgia’s double-digit lead.
High Point had a shot at tying the game on the final possession, but neither of Anthony Lindauer’s three-point attempts went in, giving UGA the 49-46 home win.
J.J. Frazier and Charles Mann, who both played otherwise underwhelming games tonight, both made key baskets for the Dawgs in the final minute of this contest. Frazier hit an off-balanced jumper as the shot clock was winding down to put his team up by three with just 28 seconds remaining, and Mann knocked down a pair of free throws that again gave Georgia a three-point advantage with only 11 ticks left on the clock.
Mann was just 2 for 7 from the floor, but he shot a perfect 8 for 8 from the stripe as he led all UGA scorers with 13 points.
Frazier followed up his 1 for 11 shooting performance against Murray State with a 3 for 10 effort this evening, although he did manage 8 rebounds to go along with his 10 points.
The most curious aspect of the Dawgs’s offensive strategy in this contest was the limited number of shots that Kenny Gaines was afforded. After scoring a career-high 35 points last Friday against the Racers, Gaines took just 8 shots against High Point; he did make 4 of those attempts en route to 12 points.
Coach Fox’s team shot under 30% from the floor as a team for the second straight game, but luckily they held the Panthers under 30% as well. The Dawgs defended John Brown very well, limiting him to just 11 points, which is 9 below his season average.
Though it wasn’t the prettiest 40 minutes of basketball ever played inside Stegeman Coliseum, the bottom line is that Georgia found a way to win against a solid mid-major opponent. The Dawgs have a tough road test looming this Saturday when they travel north for a date with Seton Hall, and that game would have had much more a desperate feel had UGA been upended at home this evening.
Georgia’s string of consecutive games against quality mid-major opponents will continue on Wednesday when the Dawgs host the High Point Panthers.
UGA began the season with an overtime loss to Chattanooga, a media favorite in the preseason SoCon standings. A week after taking down the Dawgs, the Mocs went up to Champaign and took down Illinois 81-77. Chatt picked up its first loss of the season last night following an 83-63 drubbing from #4 Iowa State.
Georgia’s first win of the season came last Friday over the Murray State Racers (3-1), a team that ESPN projected to win the Ohio Valley Conference this season.
Now, enter High Point, a team that many in the media predicted would win the Big South Conference this year. The Panthers, who return three starters, including hyper-athletic senior John Brown, have either won or shared the conference title over the past three seasons.
According to an NBC Sports College Basketball analyst, High Point is the favorite to win the Big South:
“In my mind, it would probably be High Point. There will be several teams that have really good players back, but High Point has several really good players back and John Brown has been one of the top players in the league for the last three years.”
Picked for the fourth time as the conference’s Preseason Player of the Year, here is NBC Sports’s depiction of Brown:
“I’d say John Brown should be the favorite for preseason player of the year. There are a lot of good ones, but he’s definitely been really good for a long period of time. I think it starts with his motor and how hard he competes and how physical he is. He just stays after it every possession. He really plays so hard on both ends. He’s great at working at working on catching the ball at the rim and using his size and athleticism to score in the paint. Then he’ll get stuff in transition and on the offensive glass. He’s a monster.”
CBS Sports deemed Brown the #1 dunker in college basketball for 2015:
Georgia could definitely use the services of freshman center Derek Ogbeide in its efforts to contain Brown on Wednesday. Ogbeide, who has missed the first two games of the season with a shoulder injury, was a “game time” decision against Murray, so he must be getting closer to returning.
John Brown and his Panthers will view Georgia as a potential NCAA Tournament resume-builder, and the Dawgs should expect an intense effort from their opposition on Wednesday.
Kenny Gaines must not of liked the idea of starting out 0-2 this season.
The senior from Atlanta torched Murray State for a career-high 35 points, simply willing his Bulldogs to their first win of the season.
With 4:11 left in the game, the Racers jumped ahead 50-48 following a pair of free throws from point guard Bryce Jones, erasing a Georgia lead that had been as high as 8 points just 5 minutes earlier.
Unfortunately for Murray, though, their comeback would end there as Kenny Gaines rattled off three-pointers on the next three possessions for UGA, and after his free throw with 1:35 remaining Georgia held a 58-52 lead that they would not relinquish, ultimately winning this one 63-52.
The other major highlight of the night other than Gaines was the Dawgs’ defense, which looked much improved since the debacle against Chattanooga last Friday. Georgia consistently closed out strong on the Racers, holding them to just 30% from the floor and only 17% from beyond the arc. UGA also did a great job of limiting the Racers to just one shot – Murray managed only 10 offensive rebounds because Georgia hauled down over 75% of the Racer misses, which led to just 3 second-chance points for MSU.
While Murray shot the ball poorly, Georgia shot it worse, connecting on under 30% from the field. Kenny Gaines made 10 of his 18 field goal attempts, but the rest of the Dawgs hit under 18% of theirs. J.J. Frazier was 1 of 11 and Charles Mann 0 for 7.
Yante Maten grabbed 10 rebounds, but he looked lost on offense, missing a plethora of hook shots that led to a 2 for 8 shooting performance. Hopefully Maten has more in his arsenal than the hook, or UGA is going to struggle to find offense in the paint because right now the Dawgs do not have any sort of productivity coming from that area of the floor.
Freshman Mike Edwards scored just 2 points because he missed a couple of easy put backs, but he was very active on the glass, snagging 8 rebounds in 26 minutes (3 of them offensive). As the season progresses, Edwards may play his way into the starting five with his athleticism.
The only other tidbit of interest from this one was Coach Mark Fox’s decision to sit senior Charles Mann for the game’s final 5 minutes. Even when UGA had taken control of the game thanks to Gaines, Mann remained on the bench. Mann’s free throw shooting continues to be a problem (1 of 2 last night), so it’s possible that Fox saw him as a liability down the stretch once the Dawgs had the lead. To Mann’s credit, he was the loudest cheerleader on the UGA bench up until the final horn.
This win gets Georgia to an even 1-1, with a chance to get above .500 right before turkey day as they host High Point on Wednesday here in Athens.
Georgia managed to overcome 20 turnovers on Saturday to eek out a 56-53 home win over the Tennessee Volunteers. The Dawgs were careless from the opening tip, committing 5 turnovers in the game’s first 5 minutes, and the sloppiness persisted throughout the afternoon.
UGA appeared in total control after J.J. Frazier hit a three to put his team up 51-42 with only 7:16 left in the game. But Georgia couldn’t close the door, and after handing the ball back to the Vols on consecutive possessions the Dawgs found themselves leading by just 3 points with 30 seconds left. Tennessee actually had a chance to tie the game in the waning moments, but Josh Richardson’s three point attempt glanced off the side of the backboard and time expired.
Fortunately, Georgia shot the ball very well on Saturday, hitting 55% from the floor and nearly 44% from beyond the arc. Due to the turnovers, Tennessee took 18 more field goal attempts than the Dawgs – if Georgia had had an off shooting day they would have likely lost this one.
Frazier, Neme Djurisic and Charles Mann all finished with 10 points. Frazier scored all his points after the break, and his 3 three-pointers were crucial in helping the Dawgs build a lead in the second half.
Kenny Gaines had just 7 points, making only 3 of his 9 shots. Gaines (5) and Mann (6) combined for 11 of the team’s 20 turnovers, which is not exactly the type of ball security Coach Fox expects from his veteran backcourt.
This win marked Coach Mark Fox’s 100th as UGA’s coach, and it broke a two-game SEC skid. Marcus Thornton played well in his first game back, scoring 8 points and nabbing 4 rebounds. Since Tennessee stayed in a zone the entire 40 minutes, Thornton never really got the opportunity to set up on the block and receive the ball. However, Thornton did not show any signs of rust, and he had a couple of nice finishes around the rim.
The Dawgs are now 15-7 overall and 6-4 in conference, tying them with LSU for third place. UGA’s next game is Wednesday night at Texas A&M, a team that has won 7 of its last 8 SEC games. One of the Aggies’ three losses came at home to Kentucky, where they pushed the Cats to double-overtime before falling 70-64.
Georgia’s definitely going to have its hands full in College Station.
The Georgia Bulldogs looked to be in total control over the Vanderbilt Commodores, leading 55-41 with 7:41 remaining after a pair of free throws from Nemanja Djurisic. But, four minutes later, Vandy found itself within 4 points with 2:31 left following two free throws from Wade Baldwin.
Fortunately for Coach Mark Fox, his team was poised from the line on Tuesday, knocking down 9 of its final 10 shots from the stripe to help seal the 70-62 home win, Georgia’s fifth in a row.
The Dawgs’ shooting in this game was sublime – UGA hit 23 of 25 from the line and 9 of 17 from beyond the arc.
Yet, even though Georgia shot the ball well against the ‘Dores, it was UGA’s sloppiness and defense that enabled Vandy to hang around in this one. The Dawgs committed 16 turnovers to Vandy’s 7, with Charles Mann leading the way with a team-high of 5 turnovers.
Defensively, especially in the first half, Georgia looked slow closing out, making things too easy for Vandy on offense. The Commodores made 8 of 22 from beyond the arc, and that percentage could have been even better if they hadn’t take a slew of desperation three-pointers in the game’s final minute.
Georgia won the rebounding battle 37-27, but its defensive rebounding – which has become a staple of this team – was not strong on Tuesday as they yielded 14 offensive boards to the ‘Dores.
The Dawgs had four players finish in double-digits: Neme (15), Marcus Thornton (14), Kenny Gaines (13) and J.J. Frazier (12).
Winning five consecutive games in conference is no small feat, but Georgia did not appear very crisp in securing this victory. This win puts UGA in a three-way tie for third in the conference with an SEC record of 5-2. Georgia travels to Columbia to take on the Gamecocks on Saturday.
A trip to Lexington next Tuesday to take on #1 Kentucky is certainly looming over the Dawgs’ minds at this point. However, hopefully South Carolina has UGA’s full attention so that Georgia doesn’t suffer a setback over the weekend.