ATHENS, Ga. — For large chunks of Georgia’s game against Furman, Georgia didn’t need a third scorer.
J.J. Frazier and Yante Maten combined for 55 of the Bulldogs 84 points Thurday. But for the game’s arguably two biggest baskets, it didn’t come from either of the All-SEC players. The two baskets came from a player who missed all of last season with an Achilles injury and had just two points in Georgia’s first two games.
With the Bulldogs leading 62-59 with less than five minutes to play, junior guard Juwan Parker banked home a jump shot. On the following possession, Parker followed that up with another jumper. Furman never got the deficit back down to three.
“It’s definitely a confidence builder, especially after missing my first couple of shots and hitting them at critical moment, that’ll give me confidence going into the next game,” Parker said. “You’ll break the ice, you just gotta keep diggin’ and break the ice.”
Parker finished the game with eight points on eight shots. He, along with Mike Edwards, tied for third on the team in points in Georgia’s 84-78 win. For long stretches of the game, Georgia struggled to get offense from anyone other than Maten or Frazier.
Part of that is by design according to head coach Mark Fox.
“Our third scorer, fourth scorer is gonna be by committee for a while, but Juwan had a nice game,” Fox said.
Fox alluded to several other players who made key contributions, but Parker’s baskets proved to be the difference. And for a player who’s played in only five games since Feburary 2015, the baskets come as a huge confidence boost for Parker.
The junior guard wasn’t the only one thrilled by his clutch playmaking. His teammates did as well. After the two buckets, the Georgia bench celebrated like they just won the game.
“Juwan is one of the hardest workers on the team,” Maten said. “He and J.J. are the two hardest workers on the team by a landslide. So for him to comeback and hit those shots, I was real proud of him.”
As for what lies ahead, the Bulldogs will need more nights and perhaps even better production out of Parker specifically. Georgia potentially against No. 7 Kansas if the Bulldogs can get past Georgia Washington in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic next week. The Bulldogs also have December games against Marquette and Georgia Tech.
Against Furman, Parker made the plays when he needed too, over 20 months after first injuring his Achillies. And all he could do was smile and look ahead.
“It’s a huge confidence boost. Hopefully I’ll go into the next practice and hit a couple more and then hit a couple more in the next game.”