Dawgs fall flat in second half against Oakland

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.

Georgia edges Oakland 86-82

The Oakland Golden Grizzlies (2-3), who are strangely from Detroit, Michigan, gave the Georgia Bulldogs (3-2) a scare on Tuesday night in Athens.  With 1:13 left in the game, Oakland’s Max Hooper buried his 7th three of the night to tie the game up at 80 apiece.

The Dawgs remained poised, though, hitting their final 6 free throws (Mann, Maten and Frazier), and they managed to hold on for the 86-82 home win.

UGA has had no shortage of tough mid-major competition early this season, and Oakland showed itself to be another worthy adversary.  The Golden Grizz entered the season projected to finish 2nd in the Horizon League, and they are led by the league’s Preseason Player of the Year Kahlil Felder, who lived up to that billing this evening in Athens.  Felder proved to be a difficult match up all night for the Georgia guards as he scored 23 points to go along with his 5 assists. He and Hooper combined for 10 of the team’s 11 three-pointers, and Oakland connected on nearly 38% of its attempts from beyond the arc as a team.

The Golden Grizz actually boasted a commanding 20-11 lead over the Dawgs midway through the first half, following  a pair of free throws from Felder.  Georgia, however, picked up the tempo on offense and managed to cut the Oakland lead to 37-34 at the break.

The Dawgs were led offensively by J.J. Frazier, who scored a season-high 23 points to go along with his 6 assists.  Frazier had been mired in a shooting slump over the past 3 games that saw him connect on just 19% of his field goal attempts; but, J.J. found his stroke on Tuesday night inside Stegeman, hitting 9 of his 15 shots.

Yante Maten, who appears to be developing into a reliable scorer right before our eyes, followed up his 21-point effort against Seton Hall last Saturday with another 21-point game tonight in Athens.  Maten is starting to find some consistency in both his midrange jumper as well at the free throw line, where he sunk 9 of his 10 attempts.   He also snagged 9 rebounds, just missing his second double-double of the season.

Though Charles Mann’s start to the season has been a little up and down, he had a nice bounce back game tonight, scoring 15 points to go along with his 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.  Even more importantly, Mann committed just 2 turnovers this evening (he came into this game averaging nearly 4 per contest).

Probably the biggest surprise of the night for Georgia was freshman Michael Edwards, who scored a career-high 14 points to go along with his 6 rebounds.  Edwards kept running the floor and getting into the paint, and his guards rewarded him, leading to several easy dunks and layups for the big man.

After posting back to back sub 30% shooting efforts, UGA has seemingly found some offense over the past week.  In the loss to Seton Hall, the Dawgs shot nearly 47% from the floor, and they made almost 53% of their attempts tonight against Oakland.

Maten’s newfound offense is starting to open up better looks for the UGA backcourt triumvirate of Mann, Gaines and Frazier, who shot a combined 58% from the floor on Tuesday.

Coach Mark Fox has a few days to get his team ready to host a revenge-hungry 5-1 Kansas State team whose lone loss this season came at North Carolina back in late November.