Dean Legge/Dawg Post

UGA Travels to Clemson for Season Opener

CLEMSON - Pre-game notes from UGA's first basketball game of the season, and it is a critical one.

Georgia (0-0-) at Clemson (0-0) 

Friday, November 11 at Littlejohn Coliseum (9,000)

TV: FOX Sports South (Bob Rathbun, PBP; Dominique Wilkins, Color)

Radio: Georgia Bulldog Network by IMG (Scott Howard, PBP; Chuck Dowdle, Color; Tony Schiavone, Producer) Flagship: WSB AM 750

Starting Five

• UGA leads the series with CU, 56-24, including a 22-14 edge in Clemson and a 71-48 win last season in Athens.

• UGA has hit the 20-win plateau the past three years, the second time in 111 seasons the Dogs have done so. Mark Fox is the first coach to lead UGA to three-straight 20-win efforts. 

• J.J. Frazier enters the season 12 points shy of becoming UGA’s 47th 1,000-point scorer.

• Mark Fox enters the season one win away from the 250th victory over his career.

• J.J. Frazier and Yante Maten are on the Lute Olson Award Watch List, making UGA one of nine schools nationally with two members on that 50-player ledger.

Dogs Open 2016-17 At Clemson

The Georgia Bulldogs make the 90-minute trek up I-85 to open the season at Clemson on Friday night. The contest will tip at 7:00 p.m. ET and be televised regionally by FOX Sports South. The veteran announce team of Bob Rathbun and UGA legend Dominique Wilkins will call the contest

Georgia returns three starters and eight of the Bulldogs’ top-10 scorers from last year’s team that finished 20-14 and advanced to the second round of the NIT. Georgia posted a third-straight 20-win campaign, making Mark Fox the first coach to lead UGA to three-consecutive 20-win efforts.

Senior J.J. Frazier and junior Yante Maten headline the Bulldogs’ returnees. Frazier and Maten were Georgia’s top-two scorers a year ago, averaging 16.9 and 16.5 points per game. Frazier is the SEC’s leading returning scorer, while Maten is the third-leading point producer returning to the league this season.

Earlier this week, both Frazier and Maten were named to the Lute Olson Award Watch List, making Georgia one of nine teams nationally with two representatives on the 50-player ledger as leading candidates for the national player of the year honor.

Clemson also boasts a trio of starters returning, each averaging double digits for the Tigers last season when they finished 17-14. Senior Jaron Blossomgame leads that trio at 18.7 ppg, while Donte Graham contributed 10.2 ppg and Avry Holmes chipped in 10.0.

Keeping An Eye On…

Mark Fox is...

• 1 win shy of 250 career victories

J.J. Frazier is...

• 12 points from becoming UGA’s 47th 1,000-point scorer

Among UGA’s career Leaders

J.J. Frazier is...

• 23 3FGs from No. 9 Jody Patton

• 5 3FGAs from No. 11 Sundiata Gaines

• 5 FTs from No. 15 G.G. Smith

• 12 FTs from No. 14 Charles Claxton

Yante Maten is...

• 11 blocks from No. 10 Trey Thompkins

• 13 blocks from No. 9 Chris Daniels

• 14 blocks from No. 8 Marcus Thornton

• 16 blocks from No. 7 Willie Anderson

Series History With The Tigers 

Georgia currently possesses a 56-24 lead in its all-time series with Clemson, including a 22-14 edge here in Clemson.

The Bulldogs and Tigers once were regular foes, meeting 72 times from 1913-65 before a two-decade hiatus in the series. UGA and CU did not face off again until the 1986 NIT. That was the first of three-straight postseason meetings which also included a Georgia victory in the 1996 NCAA Tournament and a Clemson “W” in the 1999 NIT.

Georgia and Clemson have met five times in the 2000s, including last Dec. 22 in Athens. In that contest, Kenny Gaines became the 46th player in UGA history to reach 1,000-career points and helped the Bulldogs to a 71-48 victory over the Tigers.

Gaines entered the contest with 997 career points and wasted no time upping that tally to 1,000 by drilling a 3-point basket at the 16:47 mark in the first half. 

The Bulldogs were led offensively by Charles Mann with 18 points, followed by Gaines with 17 points.

Clemson jumped out to an early 13-5 lead, but the Bulldogs were quick to recover. Georgia ripped off an 11-3 run, tying up the score at 16-16 midway through the first half. The Bulldogs continued their hot play, scoring 12 unanswered points thereafter to build a 28-16 lead with 4:40 left in the period. 

After leading 39-24 at halftime, the Bulldogs picked up right where they left off to start the second stanza, going on a 9-2 run in the first two minutes to further extend their lead.  

Fox Aims For Career Win 250

Mark Fox enters the 2016-17 season with a 249-146 record in 12 seasons as a head coach.

Fox was 123-43 in five seasons at Nevada from 2004-09 before coming to Georgia and has complied a 126-103 mark in seven campaigns in Athens. He has averaged 20.8 wins per season as a head coach.

All told, Fox has produced nine 20-win teams and advanced to the postseason nine times – including four occasions at Georgia – during his head coaching career, with five NCAA bids and two appearances each in the NIT and CBI.

Frazier Approaches Scoring Mark

Senior J.J. Frazier enters the Clemson contest just 12 points shy of becoming Georgia’s 47th 1,000-point career scorer.

After scoring 415 points in his freshman and sophomore seasons combined, Frazier poured in 573 points a year ago. That represented the 15th-best single-season tally in Georgia Basketball history.

Bulldogs have been reaching the millennium mark at a steady clip over the past few seasons. During Mark Fox’s first seven seasons, six Georgia players topped that milestone – Charles Mann (1,411 points), Trey Thompkins (1,396), Kenny Gaines (1,324), Nemi Djurisic (1,123), Travis Leslie (1,099) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (1,013).

With a season similar to 2015-16, Yante Maten also could join that list as well this winter. He begins the year with 722 points, with 562 – No. 18 season total in UGA history – of those coming last season.

Analysis From A Hall-Of-Famer 

Dominique Wilkins, who will serve as color analyst for Friday’s telecast of the Georgia-Clemson contest, and his former coach Hugh Durham will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in two weeks on Friday, Nov. 18. The enshrinement ceremonies will be held at the Midland in Kansas City, Missouri.

“I am so excited for both Coach Durham and Dominique on the announcement of their induction into the Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame,” Mark Fox said. “It is very meaningful as we work to enrich our tradition, that those who came before us are recognized for their accomplishments. They both have been great assets to me as we rebuilt our program. We are so proud that everyone will now be able to recognize their greatness and their contributions in the college hall of fame.”

Known as the “Human Highlight Film,” Wilkins arrived in Athens in 1979 and helped take the Bulldogs to new heights. He led UGA to its first postseason bid of any kind with a bid to the 1981 NIT and returned to reach the 1982 NIT semifinals. Wilkins was 1981 SEC Player of the Year and also earned All-America recognition in 1981 and 1982.

A 2006 inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006, Wilkins left Georgia following three seasons to enter the NBA Draft. He was the No. 3 overall pick in the 1982 NBA Draft and played the majority of his 15 seasons with the Atlanta Hawks. Wilkins won the NBA scoring title in 1986 (30.3 ppg) and was a nine-time All-Star and seven-time All-NBA selection.

Durham is Georgia Basketball’s winningest coach and also led Georgia to the Final Four in its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 1983. The Bulldogs were the “other Cinderella” of the 1983 NCAAs, defeating St. John’s and North Carolina to win the East Regional before falling to eventual champion N.C. State in the semifinals in Albuquerque. 

Prior to Durham’s arrival, Georgia had never received a postseason bid of any kind. The Bulldogs reached postseason play 11 times during his 17 seasons. Durham was named SEC Coach of the Year three times, 1985 (coaches), 1987 (AP) and 1990 (consensus). He led the Bulldogs to both their first SEC Tournament title in 1983 and their first SEC Championship in 1990.

All told, Durham posted 633 career victories in 37 seasons, with 230 at Florida State from 1967-78, 297 at Georgia from 1979-95 and 106 at Jacksonville from 1998-2005. 

The Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016 also includes players Mark Aguirre (DePaul), Bob Boozer (Kansas State), Doug Collins (Illinois State), Lionel Simmons (La Salle) and Jamaal Wilkes (UCLA) and coach Mike Montgomery (Montana, Stanford and Cal).

A Pepplebrook Reunion

Georgia’s Derek Ogbeide and Clemson’s Ty Hudson were classmates at Atlanta’s Pebblebrook High School. They played together for two seasons there after Ogbeide transferred to the school as a junior.

They led Pepplebrook to a combined 51-12 record during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 campaigns. The Falcons finished as runner-up in the Georgia 6A State Tournament, losing the state title tilt 59-58 to Wheeler, which finished the season ranked No. 6 nationally.

Ogbeide and Hudson played pivotal roles in the near upset. Ogbeide grabbed a state championship game-record 24 rebounds in the contest. Hudson paced Pebblebrook with 19 points in the contest.

As seniors, Ogbeide averaged 14.8 points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.5 blocks, while Hudson contributed 18.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 4.0 steals.

A Potent Inside-Outside Combo

The tandem of Yante Maten and J.J. Frazier provides Georgia with one of the college basketball’s most explosive inside-outside combinations. A year ago, Frazier and Maten averaged 16.9 and 16.5 points per game, respectively. That makes Frazier the SEC’s leading returning scorer and Maten the third-leading returnee from a year ago.

The combined average of 33.4 points per game Frazier and Maten produced makes them the fifth-best returning  inside-outside combination in Division I basketball. Frazier and Maten are the most balanced of those the top-10 duos.

Bulldogs Travel To Spain

Georgia got an early start to the 2016-17 season with a summer tour of Spain that included a trio of games against local competition. The Bulldogs posted a 3-0 record, winning by an average of 26.0 points per game. Associate head coach Philip Pearson and assistants Jonas Hayes and Yasir Rosemond served as head coaches on the trip.

Pearson led UGA in the first matchup, a 65-48 victory over the Madrid All-Stars. Yante Maten paced Georgia with 19 points, while Derek Ogbeide notched a double-double of 10 points and 10 boards.

Under Rosemond, the Bulldogs raced to a 118-70 win over the Valencia All-Stars. Mike Edwards led the team in scoring with 20 points. J.J. Frazier added 18 points, including five 3-pointers, and five assists. Freshman Jordan Harris chipped in 17 points. 

Georgia wrapped up the trip by beating the Barcelona All-Stars 96-72 under Hayes. Maten again led UGA in scoring with 23 points, and Tyree Crump contributed 20 points and four assists. Ogbeide, Edwards and Maten combined for 32 rebounds, with Ogbeide collecting his second double-double in Spain.

“The overseas trip was good for us,” Mark Fox said. “We have three new players and Juwan (Parker) coming off a medical redshirt. It was probably best for Juwan to knock some rust off. We felt like it was a real good experience for our team, but we’ll have to see how much when we start playing games.”

A Tough Slate Awaits Bulldogs

A year ago, Georgia played the nation’s third-toughest non-conference schedule. Comparative numbers from last season and 2016-17 indicate the Bulldogs will again face one of the most difficult non-conference ledgers.

The teams that comprised UGA’s 2015-16 non-conference schedule sported an average RPI of 115 during 2014-15. The 13 teams that the Bulldogs could face during the 2016-17 schedule averaged an RPI of 116 last season.

“We’ve always tried to schedule tough,” Mark Fox said. “We’ve always tried to challenge our team in non-league games because you have to establish a strength of schedule. And you won’t have quality wins unless you play quality teams. We have a long list of hard games, but with those challenges comes great opportunity.”

UGA In Midst Of Most SEC Success

Georgia has been winning within the SEC at the Bulldogs’ best rate ever. Over the past four seasons, UGA has:

• Posted four straight .500 or better league record – the first time in 84 seasons of SEC play UGA has done so;

• Notched three-straight double-figure SEC win totals – another program first;

• Posted its best-ever SEC win tallies over two-season (23), three-season (33) and four-season (42) spans.

Georgia finished 10-8 in SEC action last season. That followed a 11-7 mark when the Bulldogs tied for third in the SEC in 2014-15, a 12-6 record in 2013-14 when Georgia tied for second in the SEC and a 9-9 effort during 2012-13. 

A HomeGrown Roster

Nine of the 15 players on Georgia’s 2016-17 roster are products of Peach State prep basketball programs.

That list includes 14 active players – seniors J.J. Frazier (Faith Baptist Christian Academy), Houston Kessler (Landmark Christian School) and Brandon Young (Marist School); sophomores William “Turtle” Jackson (Athens Christian School), Connor O’Neill (Blessed Trinity Catholic High) and Derek Ogbeide (Pebblebrook High); and freshmen Tyree Crump (Bainbridge High) and Jordan Harris (Seminole County High).

In addition, Christian Harrison, a walk-on transfer from Troy who is sitting out this season, played at Woodward Academy.

Frazier, Maten On POY Watch List

 J.J. Frazier and Yante Maten both were named to the Lute Olson Award Preseason Watch List in November. The Lute Olson Award is presented annually to the nation’s top Division I basketball player who has played at least two seasons.

Georgia was the only team in the Southeastern Conference and one of only nine programs nationally to have two players featured on the watch list. The other schools with multiple players included were Cincinnati, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, Oregon, Villanova, Wisconsin and Xavier.

There were five representative of the SEC on the 50-player list, which also featured Isaiah Briscoe from Kentucky, Tyler Davis from Texas A&M and Moses Kingsley from Arkansas.

The recipient of the 2017 Lute Olson Award will be announced at the awards banquet on April 31 in Phoenix, Arizona, site of the NCAA Final Four. Olson won 780 games in 34 seasons, 24 of which were spent at the University of Arizona. During that stretch he led the Wildcats to 11 Pac-10 Conference titles, 23 consecutive NCAA Tournaments, four Final Four appearances and a National Championship in 1997. 

Hawks Return To Athens

For the fourth consecutive year, the Atlanta Hawks made the short trek to Athens and Georgia Basketball’s practice facility to open training camp in September. 

Georgia Basketball owns one of the nation’s largest practice facilities, a $30-million, 120,000-square-foot practice structure that opened in 2007. The Hawks had access to the adjacent practice gyms of the Georgia men’s and women’s basketball programs, as well as the playing floor within Stegeman Coliseum and other facilities.

The Hawks have opened training camp in Athens each season since Mike Budenholzer, the 2015 NBA Coach of the Year, became head coach in 2013. 

“These are world-class facilities that are a great environment for our players to come in and focus on basketball,” Budenholzer said. “We love this facility. We love coming up to the University of Georgia. It feels like the right place for us to start our season.”

“I think the facilities here are spectacular,” said Dwight Howard. “Everything here is “A-1” – the practice facility, the main floor, the weight room – has been unbelievable. We wish we could stay longer.”

J.J. Almost Everywhere In SEC Stats

J.J. Frazier ranked among the SEC’s top-10 leaders in a league-high eight of 11 major statistical categories last season – the most of any league player.

Frazier was No. 5 in assist-to-TO ratio, No. 5 in steals, No. 7 in scoring, No. 7 in assists, No. 7 in free throw percentage, No. 7 in 3-point percentage, No. 8 in 3-pointers per game and No. 10 in minutes.

The only categories without Frazier listed were field goal percentage, rebounds and blocked shots.  

Maten Up For Mailman Award

Yante Maten has been named to the watch list for the 2017 Karl Malone Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top power forward by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The award is named after Karl Malone, a 2010 Naismith Hall of Fame inductee. Malone led Louisiana Tech to the Sweet 16 of the 1985 NCAA Tournament. He went on to become a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player and 11-time first-team All-NBA performer for the Utah Jazz. Malone scored 36,374 career points in the NBA, second only to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at the time of his enshrinement. He also won Gold medals at the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games, the first coming as a member of the original Dream Team.

The other players featured on the Watch List are Lauri Markkanen from Arizona, Johnathan Motley from Baylor, Ivan Rabb from Cal, Amile Jefferson from Duke, Jonathan Isaac from Florida State, Carlton Bragg, Jr, from Kansas, Dedric Lawson from Memphis, Miles Bridges from Michigan State, Isaiah Hicks from North Carolina, Bonzie Colson from Notre Dame, Michael Young from Pittsburgh, Caleb Swanigan from Purdue, Bennie Boatwright from Southern Cal, Tyler Lydon from Syracuse, TJ Leaf from UCLA, Alex Peters from Valparaiso, Kris Jenkins from Villanova and Austin Nichols from Virginia.

Potential History-Making Dogs

Of the hundreds of Georgia hoops alums that spanned the first century of play, only five could say that they played on three 20-game-winning squads: Larry Brown, Michael Chadwick, Ray Harrison, Jon Nordin and G.G. Smith.

Over the past two seasons alone, seven more Bulldogs have joined that fold: Marcus Thornton, Kenny Gaines, Charles Mann, Kenny Paul Geno, Houston Kessler, Brandon Young and J.J Frazier.

This year’s seniors could become the first UGA players to post four-consecutive 20-win efforts. They also may challenge Georgia’s winningest four-year period and the most wins by any Bulldogs ever.

Georgia’s most productive four-year span produced 83 wins from the 1994-95 through 1997-98 seasons. Interestingly, there were no four-year letterwinners during that stretch.

The most wins ever by a Bulldog is 82, the tally posted by Richard Corhen and Gerald Crosby while playing for UGA from 1981-82 through 1984-85.

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