When Derek Ogbeide’s lay-up off of J.J. Frazier’s airball was waved off by the officials with 7.8 seconds remaining, it felt like Georgia (13-8) was destined for more Saturday afternoon heartbreak. Two weeks ago the Dawgs lost in overtime at Florida, and last week UGA blew a 9-point lead in the final two minutes to Texas A&M. “Here we go again” had to be in the back of the minds of the fans inside Stegeman. Even though Georgia showed Texas full-court pressure, the Longhorns still got the ball inside to their center Jarrett Allen, who shot a potential game-tying, last-second hook shot. The ball briefly flirted with the idea of going in before eventually popping back out, and the Dawgs earned a much needed 59-57 home win that snapped a two-game losing streak.
The turning point in this game came right at the start of the second half, when Shaka Smart had his Texas (8-13) team take the floor in a man defense. The Dawgs ate it up, feeding the ball to Yante Maten, who took advantage of going against just one defender and scored 4 points during an 8-0 UGA run that erased the Longhorn’s 32-23 halftime advantage.
Georgia played pretty well defensively throughout in this one. It was the UGA offense, however, that was Jekyll and Hyde-ish on Saturday. Smart’s decision to come out in man seemed curious since his Texas team had frustrated the bejesus out of the Dawgs before the break using primarily a 2-3 zone. Georgia tried to shoot over the Longhorn zone, and that didn’t turn out too well for Mark Fox’s team as they mustered only 7 field goals prior to the intermission, none of which came from anywhere other than the paint.
But back to the second half. The Dawgs’ offense became much more efficient as Georgia started actually knocking down open shots. UGA followed up a 29% first half shooting performance by making a robust 52% of their shots after the break.
Mark Fox got key contributions from numerous players. Jordan Harris canned a pair of three-pointers. Juwan Parker, who was forcing it a bit before the break, hit two big shots from the baseline late in the game that helped preserve the UGA lead. Yante Maten, who led all scorers with 21 points, put the ball in the basket on a critical possession with less than a minute remaining to bolster the Dawgs’s advantage up to 59-56.
Georgia could have folded, but it didn’t. The Dawgs managed to hang on and found a way to win, although Frazier certainly tried his best to make it interesting on UGA’s final possession when he took a highly contested baseline runner over two Texas defenders that air balled and ultimately resulted in the previously mentioned shot clock violation.
Hopefully this game helped to restore a little of Georgia’s confidence, which had to be hurting after the drubbing that Alabama put on this team on Wednesday, because boy are they going to need it. On Tuesday night, UGA heads to Lexington to take on a feisty group of Cats that are now in the midst of a two-game losing streak of their own.