ATHENS — J.J. Frazier scored 35 points and Yante Maten added 17 points as Georgia scored a much-needed 75-61 win over Georgia Tech in an early-afternoon game at Stegeman Coliseum on Saturday.
Frazier was carried off the court on the shoulders of Maten when the game concluded. But that was more because of the leg cramps that forced Frazier out of the game for the final 12 seconds. The 35 points were two points shy of Frazier’s career-high, and he was trying to hoist a 3-point shot when his legs finally gave out and he fell to the floor.
“Oh, yeah, I was going to shoot it,” said the 5-foot-10 sophomore guard. “The shot clock was winding down, one more dribble, I was going to shoot it. It didn’t happen, but I’m just excited we got the win.
Frazier’s scoring output came on six 3-pointers and 11 foul shots. It represented the second time this season a player scored at least 35 for the Bulldogs (5-3). Kenny Gaines had 35 points against Murray State in the second game of the season.
The victory snapped Georgia’s four-game losing streak to the Yellow Jackets (7-3).
“It made us angry. It made us determined. I’ll say that,” coach Mark Fox said.
Here are five observations from the game:
1. J.J.’s big day
It’s hard to imagine Frazier topping his career-best performance of 37 points at Mississippi State last year, but he gave it his best shot Saturday against Georgia Tech. The diminutive point guard from Glennville had 25 points on 6-of-7 3-point shooting by the 9:30 mark of the second half — he was 7-for-7 on that day in Starkville last February — but then cooled off and missed his last three.
But then Frazier picked it up from the foul line. With the Bulldogs maintaining a lead of eight to 12 points down the stretch, he made 8-of-8 free throws over a two-minute stretch and was 11-for-12 for the game.
“I wanted this one, wanted this one a lot,” Frazier said. “This game is very important to us. Georgia Tech is a really important and well-organized team. From the jump, I just wanted to be an emotional leader and help our guys understand that for 40 minutes we had to play hard and play together. And that’s what we did.”
2. Yante Maten vs. Charles Mitchell
The marquee matchup of Saturday’s game was billed as Georgia forward Yante Maten versus Tech forward Charles Mitchell. But it didn’t exactly live up to the billing and went in the Bulldogs’ favor as foul trouble handcuffed Mitchell for much of the game.
Mitchell, the Yellow Jackets’ 6-8, 256-pound senior, was held scoreless for the first time at Georgia Tech and played just 15 minutes. He came in having recorded a double-double in every game this season.
For Maten, his 17 points marked the first time in the last four games he hasn’t scored 20 or more. He was 8-of-11 from the field and 1-of-4 from the foul line.
It took the Bulldogs a while to get the ball to Maten, but they were rewarded richly once they did. Maten executed a three-point play at the 10:48 mark of the first half, then proceeded to make four baskets in a row.
“I think I did fairly well,” Maten said. “I’ve been trying to play consistent against anybody I go against. … J.J. had the hot hand. He’s a good sniper.”
3. Kenny Gaines’ comeback
Likewise, it took a while for Kenny Gaines to get going. The Bulldogs’ high-flying guard missed the last game with a knee injury and it showed in the first half as Gaines went scoreless.
But Gaines finally got loose on a driving layup just 19 seconds into the second half, and that propelled Georgia on a 9-0 run that put it in command the rest of the way. Gaines finished with 8 points on 2-for-7 shooting and he was an uncharacteristic 4-of-8 from the foul line.
“Kenny’s finally feeling a little better,” coach Mark Fox said. “He was a little out of rhythm tonight because we had to hold him out of a couple of practices to get him healed up. But I’m happy for him.”
4. Derek Ogbeide a factor
There was nothing about Derek Ogbeide in the final box score that will make one think he made a tremendous impact in the game, but he did. The 6-8 freshman from Atlanta played a season-high 11 minutes and finished with two points and four rebounds.
Ogbeide managed to get off five shots, making just the one. But his presence made the Bulldogs that much deeper in the post and his defense helped them keep Tech’s frontcourt in check. Mitchell, Nick Jacobs, James White and Ben Lammers had just 18 points between them.
Ogbeide had played just five minutes the entire season — all in the last two games — because of a shoulder injury suffered in preseason practices.
“That was definitely important, a big step for me,” said Ogbeide, who averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds as a senior at Pebblebrook High. “It’s about progress is what I think and what Coach thinks. We just keep pushing forward day-by-day, game-by-game. But just knowing I’m starting to impact the game and getting my rhythm back was good.”
5. Badly needed win for rivalry
Probably the biggest blemish on the Fox’s resume at Georgia was the fact that he had lost in all four head-to-head meetings with Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory. The win was his third against the Jackets in seven seasons with the Bulldogs
“It’s not about me and Brian; it’s about Georgia and Georgia Tech,” Fox said. “We’ve got to saddle up whenever we play them. We also have to fill the arena when we play them. I have a lot of respect for their team. I think they have a really good team. I think they have a postseason team, quite frankly. So it was important we won the game.”