Calling Georgia’s offense balanced on Tuesday night would be an understatement, considering that Mark Fox got double-digit scoring from five players against the Stoney Brook Seawolves in the opening game of the preseason NIT. Charles Mann, Kenny Gaines, Yante Maten, Neme Djurisic and Marcus Thornton all eclipsed the ten-point threshold, with Mann leading the way with a team-high 15 points. The Dawgs appeared to be in more of rhythm offensively, knocking down nearly 46% of their shots from the floor en route to an 80-70 win.
The Seawolves came out of the gates firing, though, building up a 16-8 lead in the game’s first four minutes ,with most of the damage being done by junior guard Carson Puriefoy. During the aforementioned stretch, Puriefoy scored 9 points, and he finished the half with 21.
Despite Puriefoy’s performance, Georgia managed to carry a 48-41 advantage into the intermission. But once Georgia was able to contain Puriefoy, the Dawgs began to open up more of a lead down the stretch. UGA held the game’s leading scorer to zero field goals after the break, and even though Puriefoy finished with 26 points, he was pretty much shut down in the second half.
After corralling Puriefoy, UGA pushed its lead beyond 20 points a couple of times; but, some late threes from Stoney Brook in mop-up time enabled the Seawolves to trim the score to just ten.
Yante Maten, who scored 11 points, made several nice drop-step post moves on the block.
Kenny Gaines did not start in this one, but he looks as though he is starting to regain his form, contributing 13 points, which included a pair of three-pointers; he also had an explosive dunk off of a fast break, showing that his legs seem to have recovered from his recent bout with mononucleosis.
The most improved player from a year ago, though, may be sophomore J.J. Frazier, who has developed an ability to penetrate and use excellent body control to finish around the rim (or at least get fouled). Frazier peppered the stat sheet tonight with 8 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds, and most importantly, no turnovers.
Overall, Georgia’s play was much improved this evening against an opponent picked by most to win the American East Conference in the preseason. Now that Georgia is off their radar, hopefully the Seawolves can string together a 20+ win season and secure the AEC title.
Not that I am insinuating that this was a resume-building win.