ATHENS – Georgia’s disappointing season, and J.J. Frazier’s spectacular career, went away quietly on Wednesday night.
As two of its starters sat watching on the bench injured, Georgia was undone by a barrage of 3s from visiting Belmont in the first round of the NIT, 78-69.
Frazier, in the final game of his career, tried to rally his team. But with the team’s other star, Yante Maten, out with a sprained knee, and fellow starter Juwan Parker also out, the Bulldogs came up well short.
After a season that began with NCAA hopes, Georgia (19-14) instead finished with its least wins since the 2012-13 season.
– Player of the game: Even after a sllow start – his first points didn’t come until more than nine minutes into the game – Frazier finished with 29 points. He finishes his career seventh on Georgia’s all-time scoring list with 1,628.
– Stat line of the game: Belmont started the game 13-for-25 beyond the arc, scoring 39 of its first 57 points that way. Georgia knew it was coming. Under head coach Rick Byrd, Belmont has made its name as a 3-point shooting team, the team notes saying that since it moved from NAIA in 1996 it has made the second-most 3s in the nation, behind only Duke.
– Turning point: Belmont began the second half going 6-for-6 beyond the arc, scoring on seven of its first nine possessions, and taking a 57-45 lead. Once again, Belmont was expert at driving and passing out to set up 3s, while Georgia’s ability to stop it was nonexistent. All told, the visitors from Nashville made 10 of their first 15 shots in the second half.
– What’s next: Frazier moves on to whatever awaits him next, along with sernior reserves Houston Kessler and Kenny Paul Geno. The rest of the team awaits long-term injury status for Maten and Parker, and the arrival of highly-touted recruit Rayshuan Hammonds, as well as Nicolas Claxton and Teshaun Hightower.
– J.J. FRAZIER’S FINAL THOUGHTS
“Any loss is tough. It hasn’t really hit me yet that this is my last one. I wouldn’t change a thing. I thnak coach for giving me the opportunity. He saw something in me that most people didn’t see. And I’m really grateful for the opportunity. Everything that I went through has made me a better man, has made me a better basketball player. I’m very grateful and humble to have that opportunity.”
On the crowd chanting his name as the game ended:
“That felt good, because I’ve given my heart and soul to this university. If you cut me open you’d find that I bleed Georgia, I bleed red and black. And for them to appreciate me in that way, it shows that my efforts didn’t go unnoticed. Even though I lost, that felt pretty good.”