Hogs overpower Georgia in semifinals of SEC Tourney

Georgia Coach Mark Fox opted to hold Kenny Gaines out of Saturday’s game against Arkansas after he reaggravated a foot injury the day before in UGA’s win over South Carolina.  With Gaines sidelined, the Dawgs looked to Charles Mann and J.J. Frazier to pick up the slack in the scoring department – unfortunately, those two were frigid, combining for only 7 points on a combined 2 for 13 shooting performance from the floor.  The Dawgs struggled as a team offensively, connecting on just 32% of their field goal attempts, and Georgia lost 60-49 to the Razorbacks, ending UGA’s SEC Tournament.

The bad news is that Georgia took a step back on offense; the good news is that they should live to fight another day – that day being next Thursday or Friday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

This game had a bad feel from the start, with Georgia mustering just 4 points through the first 8 minutes of play.  Despite the Dawgs’ offensive futility, Coach Fox’s team managed to hang around for much of the first half, but the Hogs closed out the final five minutes with a 13-5 run that gave them a 25-17 advantage at the break.

For the most part, Georgia never recovered from this point.

Arkansas pushed its lead to as much as 19 points after Anthlon Bell nailed a three pointer from the wing, making it 44-25 Hogs with 13:08 left.  UGA kept it moderately close for the remaining portion of the game, but the Dawgs never really threatened Arkansas in the final quarter of this contest.

Coach Fox got his best performances form Marcus Thornton and Cameron Forte, both of whom finished in double-figures.  Thornton netted 13 points to go along with 12 boards for a double-double, and Forte chipped in a solid 13 points off the bench.

Arkansas was led offensively by Michael Qualls, who scored 15 points on the afternoon.

This loss leaves Georgia 0-5 against the RPI Top 25 on the season, but the Dawgs should still feel secure about their NCAA bid.  The latest Bracketolgy from Joe Lunardi projected UGA as a 10-seed, but at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if they landed anywhere between 7 and 12.

Regardless of today’s game, hats off to Coach Fox and his team for putting together another successful campaign.  Along with finishing 3rd in the SEC this year, UGA seems destined for a meaningful postseason, which is something that hasn’t  happened often for basketball teams from Athens in the past decade.

Georgia bests South Carolina 74-62

With Georgia up 67-62 and time winding down on the shot clock, J.J. Frazier stepped up and buried a three-pointer from well outside of the top of the key to put a huge nail in South Carolina’s coffin, giving UGA a 70-62 advantage with just 42 seconds remaining.

The Dawgs would go on to win the game 74-62, avenging a pair of regular season losses to the Gamecocks.

Georgia looked like a veteran team on Friday night, managing to hold steady every time South Carolina put together a run.  The Dawgs committed only 7 turnovers in this one, and Coach Mark Fox’s team had four players finish in double-figures, with Marcus Thornton leading the way with 15 points.

Maybe the most notable performance of the evening came from freshman Yante Maten, who recorded his first career double-double, scoring 13 points and nabbing 10 rebounds.  Maten scored a critical bucket late in the game on a play in which completely sealed his defender, received the ball on the block and then finished with a dunk, giving the Dawgs a 63-58 lead with under 3 minutes to play.

Unlike the previous two games against Carolina, Georgia started well, and they avoided giving the ball away under pressure.  UGA’s backcourt trio of Charles Mann, Kenny Gaines and J.J. Frazier combined for a whopping zero turnovers in this contest.

Mann and Neme Djurisic were the other Dawgs’ players to end up in double-digits, scoring 11 and 12 points, respectively.

Despite this win, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi still has UGA locked in at the 9-seed.  However, Georgia’s rematch against #21 Arkansas on Saturday should provide Mark Fox’s team with an opportunity to improve its NCAA seed.