ATHENS – The game ended the only appropriate way it could: J.J. Frazier, having had another spectacular night, banging the halfcourt logo, celebrating yet another dramatic, final-second win.
On his senior night, Georgia’s star guard poured in 31 points, as he continued to carry his team, this time to a 79-78 win that was much closer than it appeared it would be.
Georgia had a six-point lead with 1:13 left, after two free throws by Frazier. That gave him 31 points, and it looked set to be his crowning achievement at Stegeman Coliseum.
But Auhurn wouoldn’t yield. Danjel Purifoy hit a quick 3. On the other end, Frazier’s long 3 with the shot clock ending didn’t hit rim, and Purifoy was fouled getting the rebound. He hit both free throws. It was a one-point game.
Frazier, holding the ball at the top of the key, threw an inexplicable pass into the middle, where it was easily picked off. After driving downcourt, Bruce Pearl called timeout with 7.5 seconds left.
It wasn’t well-used. A long 3 pointer by Jared Harper was off the far side of the rim.
Georgia (18-12 overall, 9-8 in the SEC) had escaped again, and kept its NCAA hopes alive. It was the third straight win, and the fifth in six games.
– Player of the game: In the past four games, beginning with the game in which Yante Maten got hurt, Frazier has scored 36, 28, 29 and 31. He’s also been clutch, hitting key shots during the stretch Wednesday night, after hitting the game-winning free throws to beat LSU on Saturday.
– Stat line of the game: Frazier’s first basket didn’t come until there was 8:54 left in the first half. Over the next 15-plus minutes he would score 20 points.
– Turning point: Auburn looked poised to run away with it when it took a 28-12 lead early in the game, after its fifth 3 o the game, and Georgia’s eighth turnover. But Georgia, spurred by Frazier, came alive with a 12-0 run. Then it scored the first seven points of the second half to tie it, and set up the back-and-forth, tense second half.
– What’s next: The regular season finale for Georgia, and a chance to get the elusive signature win. Arkansas lost at Florida on Wednesday, but enters 22-8 and seemingly safely in the NCAA tournament.