If only the Georgia Bulldogs could have just pressed the reset on the first half of today’s game with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, maybe they would have avoided their second loss in the preseason NIT.
Before the break, UGA committed 15 of its season-high 18 turnovers, which allowed the Gophers to take a 37-25 lead into the intermission. Georgia was flustered early with Minnesota’s full court pressure, and they looked like they were rushing on offense for much of the game’s first 20 minutes.
There wasn’t any reset button though, and the Dawgs spent the entire second half trying to dig themselves out of the hole that they had created – which they nearly did. Despite the fact that Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines combined for only 4 points on the night, UGA trimmed the Minnesota advantage to 65-62 following a three-pointer from J.J. Frazier. But a free throw on the other end for the Gophers coupled with a missed three from Juwan Parker resulted in Minnesota sealing the 66-62 win.
Charles Mann had a really tough game, scoring zero points and committing 4 turnovers in the first half. He must have gotten in the doghouse with Coach Fox at the half because he only saw the floor for 4 minutes after the break, and that was only because Kenny Gaines went out for a spell with a neck injury.
With Mann out, J.J. Frazier stepped up and played admirably, scoring 12 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Even more importantly, the sophomore point guard did not give the ball away once.
Marcus Thornton recorded another double-double, scoring 14 points and snagging 10 rebounds, and freshman Yante Maten chipped in another 12 points.
Other than the turnovers, another major difference in this contest came from the perimeter, where Minnesota knocked down 10 three-pointers to Georgia’s 3. The Dawgs connected on only 21% of their shots from the outside today, and they are now barely above 25% from beyond the arc as a team this season. If UGA cannot locate its three-point shot, they are going to have some serious trouble putting up points this season.
While it definitely stings for Georgia to leave New York completely empty-handed, it should be noted that this is a descent Minnesota team, picked by many to finish 7th in the Big Ten this year – a team that could very well sneak into this season’s NCAA Tournament.
Coach Mark Fox’s team must regroup quickly before embarking on a road trip to Chattanooga next Tuesday to play the Mocks, a team that Fox Sports suggested could challenge for the SoCon title this year.