The Oakland Golden Grizzlies (2-3), who are strangely from Detroit, Michigan, gave the Georgia Bulldogs (3-2) a scare on Tuesday night in Athens. With 1:13 left in the game, Oakland’s Max Hooper buried his 7th three of the night to tie the game up at 80 apiece.
The Dawgs remained poised, though, hitting their final 6 free throws (Mann, Maten and Frazier), and they managed to hold on for the 86-82 home win.
UGA has had no shortage of tough mid-major competition early this season, and Oakland showed itself to be another worthy adversary. The Golden Grizz entered the season projected to finish 2nd in the Horizon League, and they are led by the league’s Preseason Player of the Year Kahlil Felder, who lived up to that billing this evening in Athens. Felder proved to be a difficult match up all night for the Georgia guards as he scored 23 points to go along with his 5 assists. He and Hooper combined for 10 of the team’s 11 three-pointers, and Oakland connected on nearly 38% of its attempts from beyond the arc as a team.
The Golden Grizz actually boasted a commanding 20-11 lead over the Dawgs midway through the first half, following a pair of free throws from Felder. Georgia, however, picked up the tempo on offense and managed to cut the Oakland lead to 37-34 at the break.
The Dawgs were led offensively by J.J. Frazier, who scored a season-high 23 points to go along with his 6 assists. Frazier had been mired in a shooting slump over the past 3 games that saw him connect on just 19% of his field goal attempts; but, J.J. found his stroke on Tuesday night inside Stegeman, hitting 9 of his 15 shots.
Yante Maten, who appears to be developing into a reliable scorer right before our eyes, followed up his 21-point effort against Seton Hall last Saturday with another 21-point game tonight in Athens. Maten is starting to find some consistency in both his midrange jumper as well at the free throw line, where he sunk 9 of his 10 attempts. He also snagged 9 rebounds, just missing his second double-double of the season.
Though Charles Mann’s start to the season has been a little up and down, he had a nice bounce back game tonight, scoring 15 points to go along with his 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Even more importantly, Mann committed just 2 turnovers this evening (he came into this game averaging nearly 4 per contest).
Probably the biggest surprise of the night for Georgia was freshman Michael Edwards, who scored a career-high 14 points to go along with his 6 rebounds. Edwards kept running the floor and getting into the paint, and his guards rewarded him, leading to several easy dunks and layups for the big man.
After posting back to back sub 30% shooting efforts, UGA has seemingly found some offense over the past week. In the loss to Seton Hall, the Dawgs shot nearly 47% from the floor, and they made almost 53% of their attempts tonight against Oakland.
Maten’s newfound offense is starting to open up better looks for the UGA backcourt triumvirate of Mann, Gaines and Frazier, who shot a combined 58% from the floor on Tuesday.
Coach Mark Fox has a few days to get his team ready to host a revenge-hungry 5-1 Kansas State team whose lone loss this season came at North Carolina back in late November.