Dawgs beat Auburn by 1 last night. Huge win for the team. Proud of the guys.
Here are my 10 Take-Aways:
1. J.J. Frazier is the Man!
31 points, with 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. Hit 5 of 9 three-pointers. Clutch game on senior night. Averaged 31 points a game in our last four contests. He's the biggest little man in the country.
Loved the quote from Coach Avery Johnson at Alabama, who, at 5' 11", just an inch taller than J.J., and also left-handed, played for 15 years in the NBA. Speaking of Frazier, Coach Johnson remarked, "He's the chef for the team. He cooks breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the Georgia Bulldogs."
Frazier has stated that he has sought to vindicate Mark Fox for giving him a scholarship. And lest we forget, Fox gave Frazier second and third chances, after J.J. got arrested for driving without a license in March of 2014, and driving with a suspended license in August of 2015.
Well, I had my doubts, too, about how effective J.J. would be at finishing at the rim against SEC competition. Had my doubts about whether he fully appreciated the opportunity to play basketball for the University of Georgia. Thought he had some potential, but also saw that he shot 35 percent from the floor and 66 percent from the line (same percentage as center, Donte Williams) his freshman year.
No one doubts much about J.J. any longer. He's improved as a basketball player and matured as a man. Frazier loves Fox, loves to compete, and loves the University of Georgia. Bravo, J.J.!
2. Mark Fox is UGA's Coach
I posted previously that if Fox could pick up wins in more than half of our remaining games, he would be rightfully credited with doing his best coaching, and most assuredly would be back next year. The Dawgs have gone 3 for 3 since.
Sure, there are those who would give the credit for the victories solely to J.J., but Fox correctly noted that for the Dawgs to have a chance to win after Yante Maten went down, UGA would have to play differently against each team. We have, and we have won.
3. Tyree Crump is pretty good
Didn't get to see the game on t.v., but the Box Score tells a compelling story. Crump went 2 of 3 from behind the arc, and 2 of 2 from inside it. He beat his man off the dribble in one of the highlights, and converted off the glass.
I have pushed for Fox to play Crump more. Don't see how Fox can keep him on the bench with the production Crump is giving.
4. Jordan Harris is okay
Not "okay" as a player, but "okay" as in reference to his health. Fox had commented that Harris has had a chip in a bone, but he refused to say which bone, when the injury occurred, or for how long Jordan would be out.
Well, lo and behold, Harris played last night. Hit a three, and converted two opportunities from the line. His health is apparently fine, and even more mysteriously, he's not playing like a guy coming off an injury.
What went on? We may never know. All I can say is that Jordan Harris is okay.
5. Georgia is not just Yante Maten
E'torrion Wilridge has picked up all the minutes from Yante's absence. I don't think I've ever credited Fox for a personnel decision, but I'll do it now. Playing Wilridge makes better sense than starting Mike Edwards. Nothing against Mike, but Wilridge is able to defend better against quicker players, and we need to save Edwards as a guy who can give us "big man" minutes, in case Derek Ogbeide gets in foul trouble.
6. Derek Ogbeide is a horse
Dude had 10 points and 15 boards last night. Can't even remember when a Georgia player last got 15 rebounds.
7. Dynamic Duo still not seen
J.J. has played his best basketball while Yante has been out. He has carried the team because he's had to do it.
Early in the season, it was Yante having the huge games, and J.J.'s shooting seemed off. Remember that Kansas game from back in November? Georgia had a chance for a huge statement win. Yante had 30 points and was killing them on the inside. Kansas went to a zone and the Dawgs fell behind and lost by 11.
If J.J. had played big in that game, we would have destroyed Kansas. However, Frazier fizzled. He played 33 minutes, but never really got on track, achieving just 2 points and 3 turnovers, going 1 for 10 for the floor and 0 for 6 from behind the arc.
Or take our first game against Kentucky. The Dawgs lost in overtime at Rupp. Yante went 8 of 15. J.J. went 8 of 21. Not a terrible game, but had J.J. played up to his standards, Georgia would have taken that game.
When the Cats came to Athens, J.J. played huge. Scored 35 points on 11 for 22 shooting. Problem? Yante had gone down earlier in the game with a knee injury.
Don't know if Yante can come back this season, or if he does, how effective he will be. If J.J. and Yante both play dynamically, we can beat anybody in the country.
8. Everybody Else
Georgia got contributions from up and down in the roster. Sure we've got a Dynamic Duo, but it's great to see we've got a Justice League, too. I mentioned Crump, Harris and Ogbeide already. Juwan Parker didn't shoot that well, going 4 for 12 from the field, but he grabbed 8 rebounds.
Georgia finally seems to have it. Momemtum and even karma seems to be trending our way.
Didn't expect to be able to say that when Yante got hurt in a freak accident. Everything that could go wrong was seeming to happen.
However, after the overtime loss at Florida, the overtime loss at Kentucky, and the clock debacle at Texas A&M, we're actually coming out ahead in close games. We won by 1 at Tennessee, by 2 against LSU, by 5 at Alabama, and by 1 against Auburn. We're 5 out of our last 6.
Who's to say that we couldn't go into Arkansas and win? If so, Georgia would have huge momentum going into the SEC Tournament.
10. NCAA Tournament
The win at Auburn and the victories accomplished in this stretch run all strengthen the possibilities of Georgia going to the NCAA Tournament. If we win the SEC Tournament, of course, then we punch our own ticket to the Big Dance. But if we fall short of the SEC tourney title, there's still a slim chance of an at-large bid.
Win at Arkansas, and get a couple of victories in the SEC Tournament, then perhaps the NCAA Selection Committee will look at all the above: J.J. Frazier as one of the most exciting players in America. A recovering Yante Maten. Other guys doing just enough in support. Momentum. Playing Kentucky, Kansas and Florida and giving them all they could handle. Overcoming the odds.
Sure, we're an underdog, but what better feeling is there than seeing a Cinderella dance? Than seeing an underdog win? Than the Dynamic Duo and the Justice League vanquishing their foes at the end?
I'm a hoops fan. Hope you are, too. Go Dawgs, beat Arkansas!!!