The Bulldogs got a nice win on the road in Tuscaloosa and may have popped Bama’s NCAA balloon. Coach Mark Fox and the Dawgs faced a tall task against a Tide team which had its sights set on an NCAA tournament bid. With Yante Maten out nursing a knee injury, Fox turned the game over to his smallest player (at least in stature) – JJ Frazier. JJ took this game on his shoulders and asserted himself every trip down the court. In my view, JJ’s only serious mistake all night was committing a turnover at the end of the first half that led to a Tide basket at the buzzer to reduce UGA’s lead to 30-18.
How dominant was JJ Frazier’s performance? JJ played 37 minutes, scored 28 points and had three rebounds, two steals and an assist. (E’Torrion Wilridge, who played 36 minutes himself, led the team in assists with three and blocked shots with two.) JJ was the only Dawg in double figures – scoring over three times as much as his nearest teammate. Frazier shot 58% from the field, though surprisingly most of his FGs were lay-ups of one variety or another – he only hit one three pointer. Frazier was one basket away from scoring half the team’s points! The most amazing stat to me was that JJ scored every UGA point but one after Tyree Crump’s second three pointer with 9:57 left in the game (11 of UGA’s last 12 points). Juwan Parker scored on a free throw with :06 left in the game. Coach Jonas Hayes attempted to carry the exhausted Frazier off the court to the locker room but was foiled by the SEC Network’s need to interview JJ in the post game.
While Derek Ogbeide had 9 rebounds, it was clear that UGA missed Maten’s presence on the glass. But Frazier and some solid defense (and honestly terrible shooting from the Tide) allowed UGA to pull out the victory. Fox’s game strategy really paid off in this game, slowing the pace offensively and switching from man-to-man defense to a variety of zones that kept Bama off balance, holding them to 33% from the field and 17% on three pointers. UGA finished with only 7 turnovers, while Bama had 10, many of which were just atrocious. Thinking back on the game, it sure seemed as if the Tide turned the ball over much more. The Dawgs really controlled the pace of play.
Since the first UK game on January 31, 2017, Frazier has scored 23, 18, 18, 29, 17, 36 and 28 and has been UGA’s leading scorer in every game but two, when Yante Maten squeezed by him. JJ is this team’s unquestioned leader – the engine that makes the team go. His four years have gone by incredibly fast, and Dawg fans (barring an NIT home game or two) only have two more opportunities to see Frazier and the Dawgs in action at home. Tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. against LSU, and Wednesday, March 1, 2017 , for Senior Night against Auburn. We all need to get to Stegeman to pay tribute to one of UGA’s all time best – JJ Frazier – and the rest of the 2016-17 Dawgs!