ATHENS — Tyree Crump came to Georgia with a reputation as a lights-out outside shooter. Through his first six games, he didn’t make a single 3-pointer.
So maybe it was only a Division II opponent in a game that won’t count in the RPI. It does count in the stat book, and Crump finally has a 3 – in fact two of them, in a game when he scored a team-high 16 points and didn’t miss a shot.
“I knew once I saw one go in I would have a good night,” Crump said after Georgia’s 86-72 win over Morehouse.
It was more than just an encouraging performance for Crump. It was for Georgia as well, which so far this young season had been carried by its two stars, with not quite enough help from the supporting cast.
Yes, Georgia struggled at times and took awhile to pull away from Morehouse. But it came on a night when J.J. Frazier was held to six points, and Frazier and Yante Maten were both benched early in the game because head coach Mark Fox didn’t like their energy.
“That was a conscious effort to get our two superstars to play better basketball,” Fox said. “To whom much is given, much is expected, and they have to understand that as the two lead dogs they need to be lead dogs when the ball goes up. And I wasn’t pleased with either one of their starts.”
Maten came in averaging nearly a double-double this season: 21.5 points and 9.3 rebounds. Frazier, the senior guard, was averaging 14.5 points. Both were on the preseason All-SEC coaches team.
The question for Georgia is how much help Maten and Frazier will get. The third-leading scorer this season, Juwan Parker, is only averaging 7.8 points, and he sat out Wednesday’s game with a sore Achilles. (He’s expected back for Sunday’s important home game against Marquette.)
Crump, a consensus top 100 recruit, only had a total of seven points in Georgia’s first six games. He more than doubled that on Wednesday. Fellow freshman Jordan Harris, who entered averaging 4.4 points per game, chipped in 11 points, going 4-for-5 from the field.
While Crump was known as the better outside shooter, Harris has also shown a good outside touch, going 4-for-6 this season behind the arc.
Throw in senior Kenny Paul Geno’s strong performance (a career-high 15 points), and more scoring help from starters Turtle Jackson and Derek Ogbeide, and it was enough to overcome Frazier and Maten’s down game.
“We’re never going to have an assigned third scorer. That’s not something we’re going to try to do,” Fox said. “We’re going to try to get more guys to score the ball.”
Fox also pointed out that “We put 86 points on the board and our two best players didn’t score great.”
“That is something that is very good for our team,” Maten said. “That’s very crucial to any team, because there are going to be bad nights. That’s just how the game goes, even the best players, Michael Jordan even had bad nights.”
Juwan Parker update
Parker sitting was because between games and practices he hadn’t had a day off in nearly two weeks.
“That was probably too much for him. So he was a little sore, and we took the total precautionary approach and rested him,” Fox said. “He’s not necessarily injured, he was just sore, an we thought the wise thing to do was to give him a break.”