Coach Mark Fox had the ball exactly where he wanted it with his team up by 3 and under a minute to play – in the hands of senior J.J. Frazier. Frazier ran the shot clock down before attempting a long three over the outstretched hands of George Washington’s Yuta Wanatabe. Frazier’s three-point attempt caromed off the rim and into the hands of Derek Ogbeide, who couldn’t complete the put back. However, Papa Diatta snared Ogbeide’s miss and put it up and in while getting fouled, which allowed him to complete an old-fashioned three-point play to put the Dawgs up 77-71 with only 35 seconds remaining.
George Washington (3-1) failed to convert not the ensuing possession, and J.J. Frazier buried a pair of free throws to put the game out of reach.
Diatta picking up the slack for Frazier on that critical possession late in the game was reflective of the total team effort that Coach Mark Fox got from his squad in its 83-71 victory on Monday night in Kansas City. Yante Maten fouled out of the game with 4 minutes remaining and UGA (3-1) leading by 2 points, but this young Georgia team held strong and stepped up big in the absence of its best post player. Maten and Frazier posted 18 points apiece, but UGA got 5 or more points from six different players, including 11 points and 8 rebounds from Ogbeide. Juwan Parker, who scored all 9 of his points in the second half, just missed a double-double as he hauled down 11 rebounds.
J.J. scored 9 points in the game’s first 6 minutes, only to go the next 23 minutes without any baskets before hitting a three-pointer to put his team up 58-57 with 11:42 left. Coach Fox had to feel refreshed knowing that this bunch could hold their own when its star player was struggling offensively, especially against a quality opponent like George Washington.
In addition to the balanced scoring, UGA earned this victory in large part due to its second-half defensive adjustments. The Colonials shot over 40% from beyond the arc in the first half, taking a 36-35 advantage into the break. With a little over 10 minutes remaining and GW up 57-55, Coach Fox put his team in a matchup 3-2 zone in an attempt to limit the Colonials looks from the perimeter. The move worked to perfection as GW hit just 1 of their final 5 three-pointers, and the Colonials were held without a field goal for nearly 5 minutes before Watanabe hit a jumper to break the spell.
Tyler Cavanaugh led all scorers on the night with 24 points.
The Dawgs out rebounded the Colonials 39-31, with 5 UGA players securing 5 or more rebounds in this one. Georgia also dished out 16 team assists, while only turning the ball over only 7 times. Tonight’s effort definitely showcased some of the depth that Coach Mark Fox highlighted about this team coming into the season.
This victory also sets up a potential marquee matchup with the #5 Kansas Jayhawks, assuming they get by the UAB Blazers.