Just when it seemed like J.J. Frazier could officially do no wrong, he did. With 12 seconds left and Georgia leading 79-78, Frazier tried to force a pass through the teeth of the Auburn defense and it was stolen. All of a sudden, Frazier’s Senior Night fairy tale ending seemed in jeopardy. The Tigers inbounded the ball to Jared Harper with only 7 seconds left, and he promptly tossed up a three-pointer which missed and allowed UGA to hold on for its third straight win.
Other than Frazier’s mental lapse in the final moments of this contest, the Dawgs did an excellent job of taking control of this game when it counted down the stretch. The two teams went into the final media timeout knotted up at 73-apiece. UGA tightened up its defense when it counted, though, and they held Auburn to just 1 of its final 6 field goal attempts.
Even though J.J.’s turnover could have been incredibly costly, the Dawgs would have never even been in a position to win without him. Frazier, who came into this game averaging 31 a night over the past three contests, fittingly scored 31 tonight against Bruce Pearl’s team. He knocked down 5 of his 9 shots from beyond the arc, and J.J. also scored on an array of tricky drives that I will sorely miss seeing inside Stegeman next season. South Carolina’s Sindarious Thornwell may have been the leading SEC Player of the Year candidate a week ago, but I have to imagine that Frazier is giving him a serious run for his money at this point because what J.J. has done without the help of Yante Maten has been nothing short of miraculous.
The Dawgs started out super slow in this one as they allowed the Tigers to hit 4 three-pointers en route to a 20-9 lead a little over 10 minutes into the game. UGA also struggled to contain Auburn on the offensive glass as they let the Tigers haul in 7 of their own misses. In addition, Georgia turned the ball over 9 times before the break, so all things considered, the Dawgs should have felt fortunate to go into the intermission trailing 37-30.
UGA had trouble defending the perimeter for most of the night as Auburn knocked down 12 of its 27 three-point attempts. But this is a Tiger team that can get hot from beyond the arc, where Auburn is making 9 three’s a game in SEC play. Mark Fox mixed up zones and man in an attempt to close out on the Auburn shooters, but the Tigers were still successful from the outside. Tonight’s game marks the 6th SEC contest in which they have made 10 three-pointers or more, and the 10th time overall this season.
While Auburn got after the glass early, Georgia won the overall rebounding effort by a count of 39-36, and much of that credit goes to big man Derek Ogbeide. Ogbeide, who does the dirty work for this team night in and night out, entered this contest 3rd in SEC games in rebounding with 8 boards a night. This evening, Ogbeide finished with a double-double, snagging 15 rebounds to go along with 10 points as he controlled the paint for the Dawgs.
The only other UGA player to score in double-digits was Tyree Crump, who poured in 10 points in 11 minutes off the bench. Crump knocked down 2 of his 3 shots from beyond the arc, and he’s now scored 22 points over his last 28 minutes in the past 3 games.
Georgia is now 18-12 overall and 9-8 in the conference, and they now have a legitimate opportunity to punch an at-large NCAA berth ticket this Saturday with a win at Arkansas.