Georgia’s first out of conference win against a quality team was bittersweet.
The Dawgs knocked off the visiting Colorado Buffaloes 64-57 this afternoon, but UGA lost star guard Kenny Gaines to an apparent shoulder sprain – his return timetable is unknown at this point.
The Buffs, who were picked by CBS to finish 2nd in the Pac-12 in the preseason, looked as if they were still stuck on Mountain Time in this one. The Dawgs held Colorado to under 37% from the floor, and they limited the Buffs to just 11% from beyond the arc. The noon tipoff clearly did not serve to enhance Colorado’s shooting.
Georgia established control of this game during the final 4 minutes of the first half, when the Dawgs reeled off 12 straight points to break a 22-22 tie, taking a 34-22 advantage into the break. Georgia got back-to-back three-pointers from Neme Djurisic and J.J. Frazier to close out the half.
The Buffs would start the second half with a 3-minute scoring drought, meaning that Colorado went for more than 7 minutes without a point. Asia Booker, who led all scorers with 20 points, broke the spell with a lay-up that cut the Dawgs’ lead to 38-24 with 17:02 remaining.
Minutes later, UGA would lose Gaines to injury, leaving Coach Fox without one of his top scorers.
Luckily, sophomore J.J. Frazier was up to the task, scoring 12 of his 15 points after the intermission on a perfect shooting performance – 3 for 3 from three and 6 for 6 from the line. Georgia had another nice game from beyond the arc as a team, canning nearly 44% of its attempts.
Marcus Thornton, coming off of a 24-point game in Chattanooga earlier this week, had the pleasure of matching up with Colorado’s All-Pac 12 First Team big man Josh Scott. At 6’10”, Scott posed quite a problem for the Dawgs inside, netting 18 points to go along with 11 rebounds. But Thornton again played admirably, scoring 16 points and grabbing 5 boards himself.
With 8:12 left in the game, Colorado shaved the Georgia lead to 47-39 following a lay-up by Scott. But Thornton reliably responded with a three-pointer and then a layup on UGA’s ensuing possession, stretching the Georgia advantage back out to 11 points.
The Dawgs’ free throw shooting down the stretch was critical in this victory. The Buffs Xavier Johnson hit a three to make it a 57-51 game with just 1:07 remaining, but UGA knocked down 7 of 8 free throws in the game’s final minute, making it impossible for CU to complete the comeback.
This win was very important for Georgia’s resume as Colorado should be a team that finishes with an RPI in the Top 50. In addition, Tad Boyle’s squad is expected to make a return trip to this year’s NCAA Tournament.
The Dawgs will get a brief respite to take final exams before returning to Stegeman on December 21st to play host to undefeated Seton Hall – a team that currently boasts an RPI of 30.
Georgia’s loss to Georgia Tech may have just earned the title of “bad loss” following the Jackets loss to South Carolina-Upstate yesterday.
At 5-3, UGA needs another quality win if they hope to entertain any ideas of postseason basketball.