ATHENS – Once again, Georgia showed heart, perhaps more in this game than in any of recent memory. Especially J.J. Frazier.
But once again, it was not enough.
Georgia’s best player, Yante Maten, was hurt less than two minutes into the game and did not return. Georgia thus faced even longer odds against No. 13 Kentucky, and yet didn’t buckle. Frazier’s season-high 36 points kept Georgia in the game, and in fact ahead by two with 55 seconds left.
But Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox sunk free throws, and Georgia had a couple ill-advsed quick shots. It allowed Kentucky to escape with an 82-77 win, as Georgia suffered yet another heartbreaker, in a season full of them. That included last month’s overtime loss at Kentucky, which Georgia led by two with 10 seconds left.
– Player of the game: Frazier did all he could for Georgia. While he had been slow to start some games, he wasn’t this time – scoring Georgia’s first six points – and then kept it going. His long, contested 3 at the halftime buzzer made it a two-point game. And as Kentucky tried to extend the lead, Frazier kept hitting big shots, whether it was on drives or pull-up jumpers.
– Stat line of the game: Frazier had 36 points in 35 minutes, going 11-for-22 from the floor and 12-for-15 from the floor. He also had a team-high three assists.
– Turning point: Georgia led by two with 55 seconds left when Frazier hit a driving layup. It was the last thing to go right in the critical final sequence: On the other end De’Aaron Fox drove and was fouled by Derek Ogbeide – his fifth foul. Fox’s free throws tied it. On the other end, Pape Diatta got the ball on the side and tried an ill-advised runner. It was blocked easily, and in the ensuing loose ball Edwards fouled Fox. He hit both free throws, and Georgia trailed with 27 seconds left. Frazier drove and shot, but it was off. Kentucky grabbed the rebound, and Fox was fouled again, and again hit both free throws.
– What’s next: First, Georgia (15-12 overall, 6-8 in the SEC) awaits word on Maten’s status. Its next game is Thursday at Alabama, which in Athens last month handed Georgia its worst loss of the season, by 20.
What the coach said
“J.J. was ridiculous, and controlled the whole game. … We were lucky to get out alive. Literally, lucky to win the game.” – Kentucky’s John Calipari