This edition of Auburn at Georgia is Senior Night at Stegeman Coliseum.
The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry renews once again on Wednesday, March 1, 2017 and it will be the last regular season game in Stegeman Coliseum for 4 seniors. The Dawgs will say goodbye and thank you to J.J. Frazier, Kenny Paul Geno, Houston Kessler and Brandon Young. They are four of only twelve UGA players who have won 20 games in three of their seasons with the Dawgs. Indeed, three more wins would make them the only players who have won 20 games all four years at UGA. Even with larger schedules and an arguably weaker conference, this would still be a great achievement. Let’s give these four a great send off!
Without question, Frazier is breathing rarified air in Athens. He has accomplished more that almost anyone could have predicted – even his coach. I read a great article in the AJC about J.J. Frazier. His is a great story – from a small South Georgia town, and small of stature, JJ has risen to rank as one of UGA’s all time greats and a huge fan favorite. And that’s no exaggeration – he will likely become UGA’s seventh all time leading scorer (with an outside chance at sixth if he goes crazy in the next several games), fifth in assists, tenth in steals, fourth in free throws made! But anyone who has watched JJ play knows that statistics don’t tell the full story. The unquestioned vocal leader of the 2016-17 Hoop Dawgs, Frazier is the beating heart of the team – the engine which makes the car go. Message boards around the SEC show the admiration with which JJ is held, even by opponents and rival fans. I, for one, will be sad to see him graduate; I have enjoyed watching him play and seeing him around the program. We should all be proud of how JJ has represented the “G”.
At 17-12 (8-8 in the SEC), UGA needs every win it can muster to make the NCAA tournament. The Dawgs’ resume against top opponents is not good, but their RPI and strength of schedule could sneak the Dawgs into the tourney, according to the bracketologists. Bruce Pearl’s Tigers enter the game also at 17-12, though only 6-10 in the SEC. Auburn is led by newcomers Mustapha Heron, a 6’5″ 5 star SG (15.1 ppg), little Jared Harper, a 5’11” PG from Pebblebrook High School, (11.9 ppg) and Danjel Purifoy (11.3 ppg). Heron is Auburn’s first 5 star recruit ever and is an athletic, smooth shooter. Auburn got a huge shot in the arm with the addition of its second 5 star recruit over the Christmas break – 6’10” C Austin Wiley. Currently, the hoopsters from the Plains are pretty undisciplined and inconsistent, and UGA fans have to hope the Tigers don’t figure it out soon. Pearl’s recruiting is really starting to pick up, and the Tigers’ best days are likely ahead. If Pearl stays in Auburn, the rest of the SEC may have an increasingly difficult time with his troops. I read a rumor today that Pearl may be sought by his alma mater at Boston College for a major reclamation project. He has breathed enthusiasm into the Auburn basketball program.