Georgia wins without Maten
They double-teamed him. They threw junk traps at him when he crossed half court. At times, Alabama even had a defender completely face guarding him without any help responsibility. Tide coach Avery Johnson threw the kitchen sink at Georgia’s J.J. Frazier, and in the end, none of it worked. Frazier scored 11 of Georgia’s final 12 points and helped guide his team to a 60-55 road win over an Alabama team that is trying to position itself for an at-large NCAA tournament bid.
J.J. seems to be saving his best basketball for the finish of his UGA career as he followed up last Saturday’s 36-point effort in the loss to Kentucky with a 28-point game tonight in Tuscaloosa. Frazier once again put the Dawgs on his back and dropped 17 points in the second half, but one play in particular truly typified the toughness and fight that he brings to this team, night in, night out. With over 4 minutes left in the game, Alabama took a Derek Ogbeide miss and quickly pushed it up the floor with a chance to take its first lead of the night, only to have Frazier chase down point guard Dazon Ingram and strip the ball away. J.J. then jetted past the lone Tide defender and soared for the basket, which pushed the UGA advantage up to 54-51. Just when Alabama appeared poised to take control of the game’s momentum, Frazier masterfully stole it right back.
While J.J. was certainly fantastic in this contest, Georgia definitely missed Maten inside. After opening up a 30-18 halftime lead in which the Crimson Tide shot an abysmal 22% from the floor, Georgia’s failure to handle its business on the defensive glass allowed the Crimson Tide to creep back into the game. Alabama ended up with 17 offensive rebounds, which is 3 more than their SEC average, and they scored 17 of their 55 points off of second chance points. In contrast, the Dawgs managed to grab only 3 offensive boards, and they were out-rebounded by a count of 42-30.
Even though Bama has been one of the more inept offensive teams in conference play, credit the Bulldogs for holding them to 16 points under their SEC game average. The Tide had two stretches in the first half – one of 7 minutes and one of 5 – in which they were unable to convert a field goal.
For UGA, Frazier was the only player to finish in double-figures, while the Tide had three guys end up in double-digits, with Ar’Mond Davis leading the way with 17 points.
Ultimately, Coach Mark Fox’s team has to be breathing a huge sigh of relief as they avoided losing their 5th conference game this year in which the Dawgs held a lead in the final 4 minutes of the game. In addition, Georgia proved that while it will certainly be more difficult, they are capable of winning without Yante Maten.
The Dawgs have a super short turnaround before returning home to play the LSU Tigers in Athens on Saturday evening.