Shorthanded Dawgs Can’t Handle the Bruins
Just before the game, it was announced that Yante Maten and Juwan Parker were ruled out of the game due to aggravations of various injuries – Maten’s knee and Parker’s achilles tendon. As a result, the Dawgs lost the battle of the boards and were out shot from 3 pt land by a wide margin (45.2% – 23.5%). UGA’s last lead was 4-3 at 17:41 of the first half; they were able to tie the game one last time at 2:37 of the first half on a Tyree Crump 3 pointer. The Dawgs couldn’t generate enough offense or get enough defensive stops to get back into the game. For some reason, the Dawgs played the whole game in various half court defenses, rather than showing a sense of urgency and attempting to pressure Belmont.
Watching the game, one could sense that UGA did not have it in them tonight; they never generated any momentum. The Dawgs could never find a defense that clicked. Maten’s inside scores were not available, so no scores came easily. It was a sad way to send JJ Frazier out, though he scored 29 pts in a losing effort. JJ was given an ovation when he was taken out of his last game in a UGA uniform and said afterward, “It was nice to know that the fans appreciated my hard work. I put my heart and soul into this university. If you were to cut me open, my blood would be red and black. I love Georgia. Its nice that my efforts didn’t go unnoticed.” Unnoticed? Hardly…. His will be huge shoes to fill in coming seasons. JJ will go down as one of the greatest ever at the University of Georgia. He has been a joy to watch for 4 years, which went by too quickly.
Turtle Jackson and Crump joined JJ in double figures with 10 pts each, but it wasn’t enough to match the balanced attack of the Bruins, who put 4 in double figures. Rather than going out with a bang, the season ended in a whimper, much like the rest of the season played out.
Classy in victory, long time Belmont coach Rick Byrd said, “It’s a tough blow for those guys not to have Maten. I figure that we started out plus-33 points in this game because I think that’s what he got against us a year ago. He played phenomenal, and I think we would have had a really hard time guarding him. I love winning this game, don’t get me wrong, but I am such a fan of Mark Fox and the job he does and the kind of person he is. I know that’s a tough loss. We’ve lost home games that have mattered before. Home games that the perception is that you’re not supposed to lose that game just because of levels or something like that. That’s tough that he didn’t have all his ammunition with a couple guys out – they’re just not the same team without them. That doesn’t diminish any effort that we gave or how well we played. That was perhaps our best game of the year.”
UGA ends its season 19-15, while the victorious Bruins move on to Atlanta to face the insects from Georgia Tech. The Dawgs are left to ponder what might have been and to consider the future. The UGA hoops faithful bid a fond farewell to seniors JJ Frazier, Kenny Paul Geno, Houston Kessler and Brandon Young. Given his injury, one cannot help but wonder whether we may have seen the last of Juwan Parker, as well. And Yante Maten could perhaps declare for the NBA draft. In any event, next year’s team will look much different.