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.