ATHENS — Georgia is playing its best basketball of the season as it enters the NIT. The question is whether it will have its best player for it.
J.J. Frazier suffered a sprained ankle in the SEC tournament and was in a walking boot on Sunday, and head coach Mark Fox indicated that Frazier’s status is up in the air for Wednesday’s game against Belmont. Frazier is Georgia’s leading scorer this year at 17 points per game.
Frazier initially hurt the ankle earlier in the tournament, then re-injured it in the second half of Saturday’s semifinal loss to Kentucky. Georgia was winning the game when Frazier left, then eventually lost, even with Frazier’s return. Kentucky head coach John Calipari said Frazier’s injury was the turning point of the game.
Frazier, the 5-foot-10 junior point guard, was named to the All-SEC tournament team on Sunday, the lone player not from Kentucky or Texas A&M. Frazier’s heroics in the final minute on Friday’s quarterfinal – a game-tying jumper, a steal, and then game-winning free throw – lifted Georgia to the win over South Carolina.
Georgia (19-13) enters the NIT having won five of six, the lone loss coming to the eventual SEC champion, and the Bulldogs led that game most of the way.
The only upshot of Frazier potentially being out is that freshman point guard Turtle Jackson, playing his first extended action of the season, scored nine points against Kentucky.
“We’ll have to see how J.J. Frazier responds to his injury,” Fox said. “If he’s able to come back from the sprain and see if he can play, obviously Turtle did some really nice things and earned more minutes and more opportunities. I would anticipate even if J.J. can come back and play then Turtle’s earned the right to play more.”