Guards Kenny Gaines and J.J. Frazier combined for 51 total points in the Georgia men’s basketball team’s 81-72 victory against Southeastern Conference foe Tennessee Wednesday night at Stegeman Coliseum.
With the win Georgia improves to 9-5 overall and 2-2 in the SEC, while Tennessee drops to 8-8 overall and 1-3 in conference play. The Volunteers own a 94-57 all-time record vs. the Bulldogs, but UGA holds 38-33 advantage in game played in Athens.
Trailing 47-43 with 13:38 to go the Bulldogs went a 16-2 run to open things up in the game. Each of the 16 points scored were by either Gaines or Frazier. Frazier finished the night leading the Bulldogs with 28 points, while Gaines added 23 of his own.
“That was a really hard fought SEC game like most of them are going to be,” head coach Mark Fox said. “I think that coach Barnes has done a phenomenal job with his team. I did not think that we started the game with the mentality we were hoping for. I was extremely concerned on how we would respond following last game and I said eventually we have to show our character and fight back. That’s all we talked about and eventually we got back to being ourselves.”
Each of Georgia’s first three possession resulted three-point baskets with Kenny Gaines, J.J. Frazier and Charles Mann sharing the wealth. The Volunteers answered with a 7-0 run tying things up at 9-9. The remainder of the half was a back and forth affair with Tennessee taking a 35-28 lead into the break. Georgia finished the half shooting 47.4-percent, but was limited on the offensive end committing 16 turnovers. The Bulldogs were all over the Volunteers on the defensive end holding Tennessee to just 36.7-percent shooting from the field.
After a slow start to the second half, UGA eventually turned things around over the course of the next five minutes. Solid defense combined with a 9-0 run led to a Bulldog lead with 11:42 left in the half. Gaines hit back-to-back three pointers to give Georgia its first lead of the half at 49-47.
Georgia held off everything the Volunteers had to offer for the remaining ten minutes of the contest. Frazier finished with nine of his total 28 points in that final stretch. UGA finished the half shooting 51.4-percent from the floor, but cleaned things up committing only four turnovers. The Bulldogs played another 20 minutes of solid defense holding the Volunteers to just 39.3-percent shooting from the half.
The Bulldogs return home on Saturday to host No. 15 Texas A&M at 2 p.m. ET in Stegeman Coliseum. The game will be shown on ESPNU.
• Georgia’s victory gives the Bulldogs a 38-33 lead all-time at Stegeman Coliseum against Tennessee. The win was the Bulldogs’ first SEC victory when trailing at the half on the year, and it was Georgia’s third such win overall. The seven-point halftime deficit was the largest Georgia has faced in a win this season.
• The combination of J.J. Frazier and Kenny Gaines accounted for 38 second-half points in the comeback effort, the most points scored by a pair of Bulldogs in any half this season. It was the third time this year that Georgia has had a tandem go for 30 or more in a half. All three times have been the Frazier-Gaines duo, and all three have been in the second half of games (first: v. Murray State – Gaines 22, Frazier 8; second: v. Georgia Tech – Frazier 22, Gaines 8).
• The Gaines-Frazier duo went for 51 points overall, second-most points by a pair of UGA players on the year (Frazier (35) and Maten (17) combined for 52 against Georgia Tech).
• For the second consecutive SEC home game, Gaines and Frazier hit 3s on consecutive possessions (opposite order versus Missouri) to open the scoring for the Bulldogs.
• Derek Ogbeide became the fifth Bulldog on the current roster to start as a freshman, joining Charles Mann, Juwan Parker, Houston Kessler, and Yante Maten.
• With his 23 points in the game, Gaines passed Rashad Wright, Bill Ensley, Terrance Woodbury and Jumaine Jones to move from 37th to 33rd in career points all-time at Georgia.
• Kenny Gaines’ 23-point performance was his 11th double-digit scoring game of the season and 56th of his career.
• J.J. Frazier’s 28-point performance was his 11th double-digit scoring game of the season and 29th of his career.
• Yante Maten’s 10-point performance was his 11th double-digit scoring game of the season and 16th of his career.
• Charles Mann’s 10-point performance was his eighth double-digit scoring game of the season and 60th of his career.
Georgia Head Coach Mark Fox
On tonight’s game…
“Really hard fought SEC game, like most of them are going to be. I think Coach Barnes has done a phenomenal job with his team. They play hard as heck. They’re hard to play against, and let’s give them credit. I did not think we started the game with the mentality we were hoping for. I was extremely concerned about how we would respond to the loss the other night [at Ole Miss], and eventually I said, ‘listen, you’ve got to be able to show your character and fight back.’ That’s all we’ve talked about the last couple days, that’s what we talked about at the half, and eventually we got back to being ourselves.”
On the crowd tonight…
“What carried us tonight was our crowd. We had our students back for the first time since I can remember, and our crowd lifted our team. Our crowd fought with us, and our crowd’s like, ‘we’re going to bring these guys back,’ and they did. So hopefully, that will carry over to Saturday [against Texas A&M], because we have a great team coming in here. Tonight, our fans made a huge difference, and we hope that Saturday they will do the same.”
Senior G Kenny Gaines
“They were just playing a little bit harder defensively than we were offensively. At half time we just had to regroup and change some things around. They were trapping the ball a little bit more in the second half so we tried to shy away from ball screens and do some other things offensively. I mean, we’ve got a thousand plays so we just went back to the play book.”
Sophomore F Yante Maten
On ball protection in second half…
“We calmed down. We were playing overly excited in the first half. We were trying to make a lot of home run plays but I think the second half we just play how we play. We stopped trying to rush and the ball went in. They had really good defense; they came out and executed very well. I think a lot of it was on us calming down.”
Tennessee Head Coach Rick Barnes
On tonight’s game…
“What I just told my team, you’re playing against a team that went to the NCAA Tournament a year ago and they’re experienced. Again, they came out and have been down before and they raised their level of intensity…I told them what I thought Mark Fox was telling his team, about doing everything harder, about taking better control of the ball after they turned it over a lot in the first half and we just have to understand we have to go to another level.”
On Georgia guard J.J. Frazier’s play…
“He’s a terrific player…I’ve never coached against him, but with a guy like that, he just got comfortable.”
Tennessee G Kevin Punter Jr.
On Georgia’s second half…
“Those guys that were getting pressed adjusted and came out and most of all started hitting 3’s. They started getting shots and created a rhythm for those guys.”