CLEMSON, S.C. – This may still end up being one of Georgia’s best basketball teams in recent memory. The start to the season, however, was painfully familiar.
Georgia started slow, rallied, then saw one Clemson player put the rally away. The result: A missed opportunity for an early resume’ booster, as Clemson pulled away for a 74-64 win.
It was the third straight season that Georgia has opened with a loss. This one wasn’t shocking, as Clemson is also expected to contend for an NCAA tournament bid. But the Bulldogs didn’t exactly put in a strong showing.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Yante Maten kept Georgia in the game, leading the team with 19 points and 12 rebounds. He had Georgia’s first points of the season, a 3 from the top of the key, and added another 3 later. But the team’s other star, J.J. Frazier, had a rough opener, guarded tightly by Clemson and held to three points in the first half, shooting 5-for-13 from the field.
STAT LINE OF THE GAME: Georgia started the game 5-for-16 with seven turnovers, allowing Clemson to take a 25-11 lead. The Bulldogs thus wasted a chance after Clemson star Jarron Blossomgame picked up his second foul with 13:54 left in the first half. The Bulldogs never got closer than eight the rest of the half.
TURNING POINT: A little past the midway point of the second half, Georgia drew within 51-48 on consecutive 3s from guard Turtle Jackson. But after a timeout, Clemson’s Marquise Reed scored seven straight points, including a midcourt steal from Frazier that Reed turned into a layup. It would be the last time Georgia was within striking distance.
WHAT’S NEXT: Georgia hosts UNC Asheville – an NCAA tournament team last year – Monday at 7 p.m. at Stegeman Coliseum. Last year UNC Asheville finished 22-11 and had an RPI rank of 137, then won the Big South conference tournament to earn a bid. It lost in the first round to Villanova, the eventual national champion.
BOX SCORE: Maten 19 points and 12 rebounds. Frazier 11 points and 5 assists. Derek Ogbeide 9 points and 6 rebounds. Juwan Parker 9 points and 8 rebounds. Turtle Jackson 6 points. Mike Edwards 4 points and 5 rebounds. Tyree Crump 2 points. Pape Diatta 2 points. E’Torrion Wilridge 2 points. Houston Kesesler 2 rebounds. Kenny Paul Geno 1 rebound and 1 assist.
WHAT THE COACH SAID: “I wouldn’t give anyone on our team, or our coach, a really high grade tonight.” – Georgia head coach Mark Fox