Sometimes, the best way to learn is to play through mistakes.
That was the approach Georgia made with freshman guard Jordan Harris during Wednesday’s 69-47 win over Mississippi.
Harris finished the game with seven points and four rebounds in 18 minutes of play. And his time on the court had some inconsistencies, more so in the first half. But Harris played through the mishaps made and finished strong, which including a key sequence that turned out to be one of the deciding moments of the game.
Georgia held an eight-point lead at the 11:21 mark of the second half, with Ole Miss guard Breein Tyree going to the free-throw line. Tyree missed two free throws and Georgia got a bucket from forward Houston Kessler at the other end. On Mississippi’s next two possessions, Harris blocked two 3-point attempts and drove through the middle of the lane for a layup.
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That basket put Georgia up by 10 and helped avoid a potential Ole Miss rally.
"He is a freshman that is making mistakes but he is playing through them," Georgia head coach Mark Fox said. "And when he plays through them and keeps competing, he makes a lot of positive plays too, more positive plays then negative ones. He had two blocks on 3-point shots, a made 3-pointer and a nice drive in the second half. I really thought he responded well in the second half of the game."
Harris did commit four turnovers, with one being a pass to Pape Diatta behind the halfcourt line for a backcourt violation in the first half. He missed three 3-pointers in the first half before making one in the second half that put Georgia back up by 10 with just over seven minutes to play in the game.
Harris is still learning on the fly as a freshman. But it’s clear he’s earned the trust of Fox and his teammates, considering he’s started the past eight games and is now averaging 16.1 minutes per game.
Georgia senior guard J.J. Frazier said there are times when he lets Harris play on the court without any feedback. As Harris continues to grow as a contributor, Frazier thinks that those on-court experiences serve as great teaching tools.
"Sometimes I just feed him to fire and see how he reacts," Frazier said. "Other times I try to rein him in and get him to understand certain stuff. But he’s really talented. His talent has nothing to do with where he’s progressing. He’s got to progress in the mental state and the emotional state. But he’s doing a pretty good job figuring it out and I’m proud of him."
One area Harris has been working on is getting a quicker release on his shot. As his game evolves, Harris is aware more attention will be placed on him. Right now, he’s benefiting with some wide-open looks thanks to the scoring production of Frazier and forward Yante Maten.
If he continues to make plays on the offensive end, Harris will soon rise up on the opposing teams’ scouting reports.
"That’s really what I’m ready for," Harris said. "I’ve been working for that. Sooner or later they’re going to have to guard me with a little more attention. At the end of the day, as long as we execute as a team, that’s all that really matters."