Barely averting disaster, Dawgs defeated LSU 82-80 in one of the strangest games in Stegeman this season. I have a feeling this one will be difficult to recap. After cruising through most of the first half holding a lead of up to 17 points, UGA began to let momentum shift to the Bayou Bengals near halftime. UGA had its largest lead of 17 after 2 deep, deep (did I say deep?) 3 pointers from Tyree Crump (and yes, we are all asking why Crump hasn’t played much all season) with 8:13 left in the half. But UGA began getting a little careless with the ball and missing shots, and LSU started chipping away at the lead, which dwindled to 7 at halftime. Indeed, the Dawgs fouled up the last 8 seconds and gave LSU 2 totally unnecessary free throws to close it out at 44-37. JJ Frazier had 11 pts on 5-7 shooting and 4 assists at the break, but he was fortunately just getting started.
The second half was tight most of the way. Three pointers by Turtle Jackson (2) and E’Torrion Wilridge, as well as a jumper by Juwan Parker and an old-fashioned three point play by JJ, kept LSU at bay. But, LSU went on an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 1 at 58-57 by feeding the post, hitting jumpers and drawing fouls between the under 16 and under 12 TV timeouts. In the last 8 minutes, the lead was never more than 3, except for one short-lived six point lead. JJ picked up his 4th foul on a terrible call with nearly 7:00 minutes left in the game, which led to a tie at 69-69. JJ went to the FT line for 2 shots, hit the first and missed the second – but he shot down the lane and tipped in his miss against 3 LSU players to give UGA a 3 point lead again. Clinging to a single point lead, Derek Ogbeide was called for a moving screen, and LSU capitalized with a short floater to take the lead with 1:16 to play. JJ hit Ogbeide in the post to keep the deficit at 1.
The final 43 seconds found LSU with the ball which led to a crazy sequence of tip after tip after tip of missed shots before LSU lost the ball out of bounds with only 6.7 seconds left. After a timeout, the Dawgs inbounded to JJ, and everyone got out of the way. JJ split a trap and flew toward the basket at a full tilt and got fouled on a lay-up attempt. Frazier calmly stepped to the foul line with 1.6 with the game on the line and UGA down 1 and knocked down both shots to give UGA the lead. After both teams called timeouts to set up for the last 1.6 seconds, LSU tried a long pass to the opposite foul line that was intercepted by Ogbeide, who seemingly forgot he had to dribble. UGA fans’ hearts were jumping out of their chests, fearing LSU would get the ball back on their offensive end, but the officials had called a foul on LSU, leading to a final free throw by Ogbeide and a final margin of 2.
JJ Frazier had 29 points, 8 assists and 3 rebounds. Folks, we are running out of superlatives for the amazing Mr. Frazier. Again, with Yante Maten out, JJ would not let UGA lose on this day with the alumni and Coach Hugh Durham in the house. He sure gave them something to see. On his catalyst, Coach Fox observed, “J.J. loves competition and that is one thing I loved about him when we recruited him. He just loves to compete and guys that love to compete are better when the game is on the line. That is one of the reasons why he is good, he has that personality trait and that certainly worked to our benefit tonight.”