J.J. Frazier cut to his right, then his left. The shot clock winding down, Frazier weaved through the Tennessee defense to try and get a shot at the basket.
Falling away to his left, Frazier put up a shot close to the basket. The ball banked in and he drew the foul. It was the most clutch play Frazier made all season. And it came with Georgia desperately needing a win to salvage a rough stretch the program has endured of late.
Frazier’s three-point play extended Georgia’s lead to five with 20.6 seconds left to play.
And it was the critical play that helped the Bulldogs snap a three-game losing streak with a 76-75 road win over Tennessee.
Before Frazier’s key moment, Tennessee freshman Lamonte Turner hit a 3-point to cut Georgia’s lead to two. There were times in close games earlier in the year Georgia was unable to finish. This time, Frazier got the job done for his team.
Frazier finished with 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting.
Turner also hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer with Tennessee trailing by four, which was why the final score was a one-point decision.
The Bulldogs were in a precarious situation early in the second half as Tennessee got out to a 14-point lead at the 15:13 mark. From there, Frazier took the game over and slowly inched the Bulldogs back into the game.
Georgia did most of its second-half work without junior forward Yante Maten. Starting the second half with two fouls, Maten picked up two more in the first four minutes and was forced to sit the majority of the second period.
Maten then came in with less than six minutes to play and picked up his fifth foul with 5:18 to play. Maten was only able to play for 17 minutes.
With Maten out for the majority of the second half, Frazier put the game on his shoulders. Time and again, Frazier drove the lane and made tough layups. In addition to his 29 points, Frazier dished six assists and brought down four rebounds. Frazier played all but one minute of the game.
Three who mattered
Frazier: Frazier took the ball game over in the second half. He helped orchestrate a comeback from a 14-point deficit with a little over 15 minutes to go in the game. His 29 points were a team-best and a season-high. His previous season-best was a 28-point outburst against Furman.
Georgia guard Tyree Crump: Crump has been a seldom-used role player all season long. Georgia head coach Mark Fox turned to Crump against the Volunteers, with the move paying off. Crump played 16 minutes and scored 13 points with three made 3-pointers.
Tennessee forward Grant Williams: Williams sure doesn’t play the power forward position like he’s only 6-foot-5. Williams went to work in the paint, scoring a game-high 30 points. He went 10-of-16 from the field and made 10 of his 14 free-throw attempts.
Down 14 with 15:13 to play, Frazier started taking the game over. In almost seven minutes of game action, Frazier was able to lead his team to a tie ball game. In that span, Frazier scored 11 points. From there, it was an even battle with Georgia outlasting Tennessee.
Frazier willed way to win: Georgia has been looking for a game like this out of Frazier against a top-50 opponent. With any hopes of a late-season surge to crawl back into the NCAA Tournament conversation, Frazier not only went to work scoring the basketball but distributing it as well. His six assists were a game-high and he also recorded two steals on the defensive end. While Williams was brilliant for Tennessee, Frazier was even more so for Georgia.
Turnovers limited: Georgia came into the game averaging 14 turnovers per game. It ended its game against Tennessee with 11, with only five coming in the second half. Having three turnovers less than the average is certainly progress. And a handful of Georgia’s turnovers were of the offensive foul and moving screen variety. The Bulldogs were better with the basketball and didn’t seem to force the issue as much as it has in previous games.
Missed goal-tend?: Tennessee fans were not happy with what looked to be a missed goal-tend call from Georgia forward Derek Ogbeide after a 3-point attempt in the closing seconds. After the game, Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said he believed it was a goal-tend but that the officials told him otherwise. Barnes said he at least saw Ogbeide’s hand touch the ball on replay. Instead of forcing Georgia to inbound the ball with time left on the clock, Tennessee had to shoot another 3-pointer on a long rebound. Turner’s shot went in but with time expiring.
Lineup change: Georgia switched up its starting lineup quite drastically. To start the game, the Bulldogs went with Frazier, Crump, Maten, Ogbeide and Mike Edwards. It was Crump’s first career start, with the freshman hitting a 3-pointer on his first shot attempt.
Maten has rare single-digit game: Due to the foul trouble he experienced, Maten was held to only seven points for the entire game. This is only the second time this has happened all season, with the first being against Oakland when Maten only posted six points – in a game where he also dealt with foul trouble.
They said it
Fox on the starting lineup change: “I really felt like we wanted to begin the chess match and make the first move. We made it at the jump ball. That lineup got us off to a solid start. It really did. We never went back to it but it gave us a good start to the game. That was important to us.”
Frazier on rallying for the win: “I don’t really care if I score 28, 38 or eight. I just want to win games. I think that trickles down throughout my team. They see how much winning means to me and how much this university means to me. Whatever I have to do to win a game I will.”
Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes on Frazier’s game: “They just gave the ball to J.J. Frazier. They just gave it to him. They let him dribble it. One of the hardest things to defend, now, is a guy who can dribble it, snake it, and get here, get this. It’s really hard. He’s a tough player to defend. You look at him, he had 29 points but he had six assists. He accounted for a lot of their points.”
Georgia returns home and will host Mississippi State on Tuesday at 9 p.m.