ATHENS – Juwan Parker had waited almost two years to remind everybody, and himself, why he could be a valuable piece for the Georgia basketball team. By doing so Wednesday, he may have saved his team a lot of unwanted drama.
Parker had his best game since an Achilles injury sidelined him almost two years ago, scoring 14 points, many in key moments, as Georgia survived a run from feisty Louisiana-Lafayette, 73-60.
“It was the first game I felt like I was really in a rhythm,” said Parker, who hadn’t scored in double figures since the 2014-15 season. “Shots were falling, so that’s always a good feeling. And you hate to say it, but when shots fall you always play defense a little harder, you rebound a little harder. So it was a good game.”
Georgia (6-3) never trailed, then pulled away after the lead briefly dwindled to two early in the second half.
Player of the game
While team leaders Yante Maten (18 points) and J.J. Frazier (15 points) ran hot and cold, Parker was steady throughout, with six points in the first half and eight in the second. It was two off the junior small forward’s career-high, which came in Feb. 2014, before the Achilles injury that would cost Parker half his sophomore season, and then lead to a medical redshirt last season. Parker got most of his points off jumpers, going 7-for-15 form the field.
“Juwan has really played well, but he’s just been rusty,” Georgia head coach Mark Fox said. “When you miss essentially two straight years of high-level games, it’s going to take him time to keep chipping the rust away. And we talked the other day, and he said he felt he’s playing the best he has his whole career, he just hasn’t had the rust come off his jump shot yet. And tonight more of it came off.”
Stat line of the game
Maten ended up five blocks short of a triple double: 18 points, 15 rebound and five blocks – the first time since 2011, according to UGA, that an SEC player had at least 15 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks in a game. That was Kentucky’s Anthony Davis. On Wednesday, Maten was joined by fellow big man Derek Ogbeide, who also had a career-high six blocks, giving Georgia a season-high 11 blocks.
“I don’t think Yante played particularly well, and he leaves here with a double-double, and he would probably say he didn’t play great either,” Fox said. “But he and Derek were certainly effective. … Obviously their defense down low was key for us.”
After Georgia’s lead suddenly dwindled to two early in the second half, Parker’s jump shot began a run that put the Bulldogs back in control. J.J. Frazier, previously having a quiet game, scored nine of Georgia’s 11 points after Parker’s jumper, and Frazier assisted on the other basket.
In what on paper should be one of its easiest games, Georgia hosts Charleston Southern on Saturday at 1 p.m. CSU is 4-5, with losses at Florida State (by 21) and Alabama (by 30).
Maten 18 points and 15 rebounds and 5 blocks. Frazier 15 points and 6 asasists. Parker 14 points. Ogbeide 9 points and 13 rebounds. Pape Diatta 5 points, Jordan Harris 4 points, Kenny Paul Geno 4 points, Mike Edwards 2 points, Turtle Jackson 2 points.