Sluggish over the start of the season, Georgia came out today determined and ready to fight. There were no pre-game handbumps. Georgia’s players, nor Tech’s helped the opposition up off the court. That’s what this is - a grudge match.
In the end the Jackets were laid out by second-half knockout from the Bulldogs’ tiniest player. J.J. Frazier used playground circus shots and a lethal three-point jumper to land 22 of his game-high 35 points in the second half. He pushed the Bulldogs past the Jackets in basketball for the first time in four long years.
Even before Frazier exploded, the Bulldogs seemed ready to fight for the first time this season. Needless to say when you lose four times in a row to your in-state rival you need to correct that problem.
“It made us angry. It made us determined,” Fox said of dropping the last four games to Tech.
Perhaps the Dawgs were determined to play hard-nosed defense, and in the process held the high-flying Jackets to almost 20 points fewer than their season average.
Perhaps the Dawgs were determined to defeat Brian Gregory, who has yet to do much of anything in Atlanta besides defeat Mark Fox and Georgia.
Perhaps the Dawgs were determined to get their season back on track, and without this win that probably wasn’t going to happen.
This game was a long time coming. Georgia has not looked good any time I’ve watched them this winter, and I will admit (likely like you) that I’ve only seen them a handful of times. I’m not sure the formula used today - riding your biggest (Yante Maten with 17 points) and smallest (J.J. Frazier with 35 points) to victory - is the way to win from here on out, but it worked today, and today is all that matters today.
Tech, which was throwing post players at Maten with no real success, got hot in the second half to make the game competitive, but once Frazier and the Bulldogs got going the game was stretched out to a ten-point lead, and that pretty much held the entire rest of the way.
If, and it is a very big if with only one decent win to speak of so far this season, this team is to climb back into the discussion of the NCAA Tournament it is going to have to play like this more often. The Bulldogs shot right at 50% from the field; they poured in 20 free throws; they had more assistants than turnovers; and they held Georgia Tech to 8 for 27 shooting in the second half.
That’s how you win games that matter.