ATHENS – It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t convincing. Luckily for Georgia, it didn’t have to be.
Once again, J.J. Frazier’s performance mirrored his team. He was scoreless at the half in a game Georgia couldn’t afford to lose, and yet was losing. Then the senior guard hit key shots to lead Georgia ahead and away from Mississippi State, 79-72 on Tuesday night at Stegeman Coliseum.
Georgia, which trailed by as may as seven in the first half, found itself tied with 6:29 left left. Then it scored the next eight points, and punctuated it with a Mike Edwards alley-oop dunk off a Frazier feed, making it a 9-point lead. Frazier scored all 17 of his points in the second half.
Georgia (15-11 overall, 6-7 in the SEC) thus won a second straight game for the first time in a month, making sure to avoid what would have been a sub-100 loss to Mississippi State (now 14-12, 5-8).
– Player of the game: While a lot of Georgia players had solid games, Yante Maten was once again was the steady leader. His nine points in the first half helped keep his team in the game. And he finished with a game-high 24 points and nine rebounds, including 12-for-13 from the free throw line.
– Stat line of the game: E’Torrion Wilridge, in his first career start, had a solid all-around game: 5 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists. It was the sophomore’s career-high for assists and season-high for rebounds.
– Turning point: Georgia was trailing late in the first half, 30-23, when Turtle Jackson stripped the ball away and dribbled downcourt. He fed Maten under the basket, who made a layup while being fouled. That sequence began a 17-5 run that spanned both halves – Georgia trailed by four at halftime and then went on a 12-3 run to start the second half.
– What’s next: A team named Kentucky visits Stegeman Coliseum on Saturday at 6 p.m. Georgia took the Wildcats to overtime in the first game, at Rupp Arena, so does that bode well for getting the first win over a ranked team? Well, Georgia also took Florida to overtime on the road, then lost by double digits to the Gators in the rematch. Georgia badly needs a sure top 50 win, and it doesn’t have one yet. This might be the last chance to get one.