Mississippi State did just about everything it could to keep J.J. Frazier from scoring.
And it succeeded in doing so for the most part. For the game's first 27:40, a defender followed the 5-foot-10 senior everywhere he went on the court.
Frazier, however, made Mississippi State pay with a key error in transition during the second half. Up two, Yante Maten recorded a blocked shot, which pushed the ball up the court. The ball got in Frazier's hand on the right side of the arc. No one pressured Frazier, who then had a wide-open look at a 3-point basket.
The ball went in at the 14:20 mark of the second half, giving Georgia a five-point lead and Frazier his first three points of the game.
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Georgia would go on to win 79-72 against Mississippi State in a game that took some time to pull away from. Georgia's leading scorer was junior forward Yante Maten, who had 24 points. Frazier, after that first made 3, would hit two more from behind the arc and end the game with 17 points.
At the half, Georgia trailed 32-28, although that turned into a positive considering it was down to Mississippi State (14-11, 5-8 SEC) by seven at one point in the opening period. Georgia (15-11, 6-7) then scored the first four points of the second half with makes from Maten and Derek Ogebide.
Georgia has now won two games in a row, which has occurred following a three-game losing streak.
Three who mattered
Maten: Maten asserted his will down low and finished with 24 points. Maten drew a lot of attention and went 12-of-13 shooting from the free-throw line. He ended the game 6-of-13 shooting from the field after starting 3-of-10.
Frazier: Frazier had zero points until the 14:20 mark of the second half. He finished in double figures with 17 points. Frazier once again took control of a close game, just like he did last Saturday against Tennessee.
Georgia guard Juwan Parker: Parker's mid-range game was in full effect Tuesday. The junior from Tulsa, Oklahoma made four of his seven shot attempts from the field and ended with a total of 16 points. Parker had a key and-one play on a fadeaway mid-range jumper halfway through the second period. He also made all eight of his free-throw attempts.
With the game tied at 54-54 with 6:29 left to play, Georgia went on a 12-3 run to provide itself a cushion down the final stretch of the game.
Getting them free: Georgia's post presence proved too much for Mississippi State down low. Time and again, Georgia fed Maten, Ogbeide and Mike Edwards, with Mississippi State unable to match the physicality inside. Mississippi State resorted to a lot of fouls, with Georgia making 28 of its 32 free-throw attempts. Of that total, Georgia's big men made 14 of 18 attempts. Conversely, Mississippi State was unable to get to the line as easy, making only seven of nine attempts.
Defensive matchup: Georgia went with a bit of a surprise in its starting lineup in E'Torrion Wilridge. For most of the year, Wilridge was a role player to come in games and spell players at primarily the three and four positions. Against Mississippi State, Georgia went with Wilridge for defensive purposes. Georgia didn't zone as much since Mississippi State is a good 3-point shooting team. And therefore, Wilridge ended up seeing 29 minutes of playing time. Initially expecting to defend Mario Kegler, Wilridge's primary assignment was to guard Quinndarry Weatherspoon. Weatherspoon scored 14 points, with 12 of those coming scattered throughout the second half.
Another lineup change: Georgia elected to go with a different lineup for the third consecutive game. This time, Wilridge earned his first career start after playing only six minutes against Tennessee. Tyree Crump, who started against the Volunteers, came off the bench. Parker, who head coach Mark Fox said is a little banged up, entered back into the starting lineup after coming off of the bench at Tennessee.
Winning the second half: Georgia has now out-scored the opposition in the second half in 14 of its 15 wins. Needless to say, Georgia is 14-0 when outscoring the other team in the final period.
They said it
Fox on being able to get to the free-throw line to respond to Mississippi State's nine 3-pointers: "Similar to the Vanderbilt game, when they're shooting tons of 3s, you want to be able to counter that with great 2-point looks and free throws. (Tuesday) we did that. I was very disappointed with our defense in the first half. They shot it well, and give them credit for making shots, but I can't remember guys getting that open in a while. ... It is important when they're doing that to answer with some good shots and some free throws."
Wilridge on his first career start and playing 29 minutes: "Coach told me about two practices ago. They were a matchup problem, so coach thought my defense would really help. I feel like I did what I needed to do for the team."
Parker on Frazier scoring all 17 of his points in the final 14:20 of the game: "That’s J.J. Frazier. J.J. goes crazy. He has those little spurts like that, that are just miraculous scoring, so I wasn’t surprised."
Georgia is set to host Kentucky on Saturday at 6 p.m.