Any good feelings that Georgia (8-4) might have been harboring following their first win over a significant non-conference opponent (Georgia Tech) earlier this week were certainly crushed and flushed this evening inside Oakland’s Center O’rena in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
After building up a 37-25 advantage with a little over 5 minutes remaining in the first half, the Dawgs went on to lose 86-79 to an Oakland team that entered tonight’s game ranked 216 in the NCAA’s RPI rankings. If the word “bad loss” as it pertains to NCAA tournament resumes were actually in the dictionary, it would be accompanied by a picture of Oakland’s incredibly dark, hardwood floor with its grossly oversized grizzly in the center.
A game that was meant to be an early Christmas present for Georgia’s Yante Maten turned into a lump of coal for the Michigan native. Maten fouled out of the game with 6:19 left and his team trailing 71-64. He only managed to tally 6 points and 5 rebounds while committing 4 turnovers. The Grizzlies doubled down on Maten whenever he got the ball on the block, preventing him from establishing any sort of offensive rhythm.
J.J. Frazier, who played a fabulous first half, scoring 18 points on 7 of 8 from the floor, disappeared following the intermission. Frazier missed all 10 of his second half attempts as he forced up shots under intensified pressure from the Oakland defenders. He did manage 4 free throws after the break, however, and led all UGA scorers with 22 points.
Oakland jumped all over Georgia to start the second half, going on an 18-4 run that erased UGA’s 45-38 halftime advantage. Martez Walker capped off the run with a three-pointer that sent his team up 56-49 with a little over 15 minutes remaining in the game. Walker hit 4 three’s on the evening and finished with a career-high 30 points.
The fact that Coach Mark Fox’s team allowed an Oakland player to put 30 points on them is a testament to how poorly this team played defense tonight. Georgia looked slow to the ball, especially in the second half, and eventually the Dawgs had to get out of their man defense and switch to zone because they simply couldn’t guard the Grizzlies straight up. After hitting under 36% from the floor in the first twenty minutes, Oakland knocked down over 53% of their attempts in the second half. The Grizzlies also connected on 10 of their 17 shots from beyond the arc.
The only other Georgia starters to finish in double-digits were Derek Ogbeide and Juwan Parker. Ogbeide logged a double-double, netting 13 points to go along with 12 rebounds; 11 of Derek’s points came after the break, and he scored 4 consecutive buckets during a critical stretch in the second half that helped UGA cut into Oakland’s 61-51 lead.
Parker scored 15 points, but he committed a team-high 5 turnovers. The Dawgs gave the ball over 19 times this evening, a problem that plagued this team tonight offensively against Oakland.
The game on Tuesday against Georgia Tech was never in doubt because Georgia had the two best players on the court. That was not the case tonight, though, as Maten played only 21 minutes before fouling out. Still, Coach Mark Fox’s bunch shouldn’t be losing to Oakland. Period.