ATHENS – For Georgia, the object of this game was to do no harm, but it wouldn’t have hurt to impress one of the people watching courtside: Janet Cone, the athletics director at UNC Asheville, who also happens to be on this year’s NCAA tournament selection committee.
What she saw was a Georgia team still trying to find its identity, and experimenting with lineups and players. The result was a somewhat lackluster showing by the Bulldogs – but still good enough for a win, 60-46, Monday night at Stegeman Coliseum.
The news before the game was Mark Fox tinkering with his lineup, inserting sophomore Turtle Jackson in place of senior Kenny Paul Geno. But the win ended up being thanks the reliable veterans.
– Players of the game: J.J. Frazier blamed himself for last Friday’s season-opening loss at Clemson, when he struggled to get off his shot. He started slow again in this game, but got going when it was needed, finishing with 18 points, six assists and five rebounds. In so doing he surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his career, becoming the 47th player in program history to do so.
Yante Maten should have dominated undersized UNC Asheville – which started four players 6-foot-3 or shorter – and Maten largely did. The junior power forward led Georgia with 19 points and nine rebounds, and his defense was part of the reason for the visitors’ poor shooting (34 percent from the field.)
– Stat line of the game: UNC Asheville was 4-for-22 from beyond the arc, which was fatal to its hopes. All those rebounding opportunities was also a big reason Georgia dominated the boards, 45-29.
– Turning point: Georgia led most of the game, but was having trouble pulling away, and the lead was again down to five with nine minutes left. That’s when Mark Fox called timeout, and coming out of it Frazier drained a 3 from the top of the key, then after a stoppage and a media timeout, hit a jump shot to give Georgia its first double-digit lead, 51-41. The Bulldogs pulled away from there.
– What’s next: Georgia stays home to host Furman Thursday at 7 p.m. Furman lost its opener by two at Presbyterian, and was playing at UAB on Monday night.
– Box score: Yante Maten 19 points and 9 rebounds, J.J. Frazier 18 points an 6 assists, Juwan Parker 9 points and 7 rebounds, Derek Ogbeide 6 points and 5 rebounds, Jordan Harris 3 points, Kenny Paul Geno 3 points, Turtle Jackson 2 points and 2 rebounds.
WHAT THE COACH SAID
“Obviously Asheville was a tournament team last year (it lost to Villanova in the first round). A team that knows how to play, knows how to play together, very good offensive team. We were very concerned about our ability to defend them. So at the end of the night with how we did defend. And then we’re obviously playing a ton of guys, which affects our rhythm offensively. But we’re getting better.” – Georgia’s Mark Fox