ATHENS, Ga. – The Georgia Bulldogs (13-8, 4-4 SEC) warded off the Texas Longhorns (8-13, 2-6 Big 12) in the waning seconds as Texas’ potential game-tying shot rimmed out to give Georgia the 59-57 victory Saturday in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
With a minute remaining in the game, Longhorns guard Andrew Jones sank a 3-pointer to cut the Georgia lead to one point, but on the subsequent possession Bulldogs forward Yaten Maten made a contested layup in the paint to extend the lead to three at 59-56. A Texas free throw shortened Georgia’s advantage to two points with 38 seconds remaining but it proved enough as the Bulldogs defense thwarted off the Longhorns in their last attempt.
“It really is a good win and we needed one,” Georgia head coach Mark Fox said. “I thought that Texas was obviously a team that was young and they are very, very talented. It just hasn’t clicked for them. So we felt that if we could just calm down in the second half and stay the course, that we could earn a victory. We are really proud of our team that we were able to do that.”
Maten’s 21 points and seven rebounds led the Bulldogs attack. The 20-point performance was his eighth of the year and his second consecutive such game of the season. Senior guard J.J. Frazier chipped in 14 points while redshirt junior guard Juwan Parker added nine of his own.
“We had so many good shots in the first half that just didn’t go in and we lost our rhythm a little bit but we just kept getting good shots at the basket,” Fox continued. “They kept saying to each other “We are getting good looks, the rhythm will come” and then eventually it did and we were able to tie the game. Then we go up to as much as seven. We calmed down more in the second half and played much better. We finished plays at a much higher rate in half two.”
At the break, the Bulldogs trailed the Longhorns 32-23 as Texas finished the first half on a 10-2 run. Maten led all scorers with nine points while Eric Davis Jr. spearheaded the Longhorns with eight points.
The Bulldogs came out of halftime on a tear as they went on an 8-0 run to make it a one-point game in less than three minutes. The Georgia duo of Maten and Frazier made two more baskets apiece to bring the score to 32-31 at the 17:13 mark.
Georgia obtained its first lead of the second half, 38-36, at the 13:13 mark when a driving Frazier dished it out to freshman guard Jordan Harris who knocked down the 3-pointer. After Texas retook the lead, Harris drained another trey minutes later to notch it at 41-all and Frazier followed with a jumper to recapture the Bulldogs’ lead at 43-41 with 9:10 left in the contest. Georgia stretched its lead out to as high as seven points before Texas fought back into the game but ultimately the Bulldogs held on for the win.
The Longhorns tallied five 3-pointers in the first half but were limited to one in the second half. Georgia shot a 41 percent clip from the floor.
Up next for the Bulldogs is a road game against the fourth-ranked Kentucky Wildcats on Tuesday in Lexington, Kentucky. The tip is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET and will be televised on ESPN.
• William “Turtle” Jackson II got his first start since December 4, and he opened the game’s scoring with a dunk in transition. It was his eighth start this season and first-career start in conference play.
• The Bulldogs opened the second half on a 6-0 run over the first 2:22, prompting a timeout from Texas. Georgia then added another bucket after the stoppage to cut its deficit to one point.
• Georgia took the lead for good as J.J. Frazier connected on a three-point play at the 7:14 mark of the second half to claim a 46-44 lead.
• Yante Maten reached double-digit scoring for the ninth-consecutive game. He has been Georgia’s leading scorer in 17 of 21 contests this year, including four straight. He has now led UGA in both rebounds and points in nine games this year.
• The Bulldogs have defeated a Big 12 opponent in two of the last three seasons and are now 1-1 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
• Georgia remains undefeated against Texas at home, now 3-0 all-time.
• The Bulldogs and Longhorns each finished with 30 rebounds, but Georgia had more assists (11-10) and steals (7-4). Georgia outscored Texas 36-25 in the second half, outshooting the Longhorns 52-42.9 percent in the second 20 minutes.
• The game featured eight lead changes and three ties.
Georgia Head Coach Mark Fox
On the game…
“It really is a good win and we needed one. I thought that Texas was obviously a team that was young and they are very, very talented. It just hasn’t clicked for them. So we felt that if we could just calm down in the second half and stay the course that we could earn a victory. We are really proud of our team that we were able to do that.”
On the team’s offensive effort…
“We had so many good shots in the first half that just didn’t go in. Then we lost our rythm a little bit but we just kept getting good shots at the basket. They kept saying to each other ‘We are getting good looks, the rhythm will come.’ And then eventually it did and we were able to tie the game. Then we go up to as much as seven. We calmed down more in the second half and played much better. We finished plays at a much higher rate in half two, too.”
Georgia Senior Guard J.J. Frazier
On the past few games for Georgia…
“What we have been through is part of the game of basketball, I make the game a love hate relationship. I’ve got to give credit to my guys, they have been battling. I haven’t been playing well the past couple of games, but I’m continuing to stay the course and get better.”
Texas Head Coach Shaka Smart
On Georgia’s program…
“I think Mark Fox has done a beautiful job. He’s done a great job with this program. Going back to Nevada, we played them one year when I was an assistant coach at Akron in this event called Bracket Busters. It was an absolute snow storm up there and our travel was a nightmare, but I just remember how great their team was. He’s done a really good job with the program here at Georgia. I think the thing about it is, when you watch his teams, they seemed to be very connected around each other and whatever their plan is and what they’re trying to do and execute and that’s the mark of a good coach.”