UGA Basketball

Second-half surge, thanks to halftime fight, sparks Georgia to win over Missouri

J.J. Frazier had a big second half in Georgia’s win over Missouri.
J.J. Frazier had a big second half in Georgia’s win over Missouri. Georgia Sports Communications

Georgia had just played one of its worst halves of the season as a missed Missouri shot at the first-half buzzer fell into Yante Maten’s hands. There was some wonder as to how the Bulldogs would regroup after a sluggish start to the game.

But then, seemingly out of nowhere, Missouri guard Jordan Geist came running in to take the ball out of Maten’s hands following the buzzer. Maten didn’t relinquish control and the two got tangled into a brief shoving match.

Georgia and Missouri’s benches then became embroiled in a scuffle, with a ton of shoving, pushing back and shouting going on. In the end, unsporting technicals were assessed to Georgia assistant Kent Davison and Missouri assistant Steve Shields for their role in the skirmish.

The incident, however, would wind up sparking Georgia to a big second half in a 71-66 victory at Stegeman Coliseum.

Frazier started the second half on fire with six quick points in the first 2  1/2 after the break. Georgia (10-5, 2-1 SEC) used an early 11-2 run to gain control on Missouri (5-9, 0-2) over the final 20 minutes.

Frazier, who had two points at the half, finished the game with 16. Similarly, Maten, who started slow with only six first-half points, put together an impressive second half and ended the game with 17 points.

While Georgia led by eight at one point in the second half, Missouri did fight back to stay in this game for a brief period. At the 8:13 mark of the second half, forward Jordan Barnett hit a jumper from the left wing to cut Georgia’s lead to 51-49. Missouri’s K.J. Walton then made three of four free throws on consecutive trips to the line to give the Tigers a 52-51 lead.

But trailing 54-53 a few minutes later, Georgia went on a 12-0 run to put itself in position to record its 10th win of the season.

Three who mattered

Maten: Maten scored 11 of his 17 points in the second half and brought down nine rebounds. While he had five turnovers, which followed the six he had Wednesday against South Carolina, Maten was able to put together a much better second half to help his team get the win.

Frazier: Frazier only attempted only two shots in the first half, scoring two points. He caught fire early in the second half and scored 14 more. He also dished out a game-high four assists and came up with five steals.

Missouri guard Terrence Phillips: Phillips hit a couple of 3-pointers late in the second half to at least keep the game interesting. In total, he made five of Missouri’s six 3-pointers. Phillips finished the game with a game-best 20 points.

Turning point

Just before the half, Georgia needed to find something to spark itself. Then the fight happened. Geist electing to try and wrestle a rebound away from Maten for no apparent reason resulted in a confrontation that angered both benches. The team with the better talent, Georgia, was then able to outmuscle its opponent the rest of the way.

Observations

More energy: The Bulldogs brought a lot more passion in the post-fight second half. And it led to better looks at the basket and a more opportunistic defense. Georgia shot 33.3 percent from the field in the first half, which was followed by a 56 percent showing in the second half. The big men were aggressive down low and drew a game-total of 28 fouls, which led to 40 free throw attempts (Georgia made 27 of them). All seven of Georgia’s steals came in the second half, with all 16 of the team’s points off turnovers coming in the final 20 minutes as well.

Turnovers still plague Bulldogs: Georgia played a hard-fought game against South Carolina on Wednesday but lost while committing 16 turnovers. The Bulldogs helped keep Missouri in Saturday’s game thanks to the 20 turnovers. In the game’s first five minutes, Georgia turned the ball over five times. And they weren’t of the offensive-foul variety. Maten had five turnovers, with Juwan Parker and Mike Edwards also tallying four turnovers apiece. That’s an area Georgia will need to work on, especially with an upcoming stretch where three of its next four games are on the road.

Dreadful from downtown: Georgia had a bad day shooting from the perimeter, making only two of its 13 3-point attempts — Turtle Jackson and Pape Diatta were the ones who made both of the deep shots. Missouri, on the other hand, was astonishingly bad from behind the arc. A poor 3-point shooting team entering the game, the Tigers hoisted 36 3-pointers and made only six. Outside of the five 3s Phillips made, only Jordan Barnett converted one, finishing 1-of-8 from downtown. Missouri got most of those shots against Georgia’s zone defense, which wasn’t necessarily by Georgia’s design. After the game, Georgia head coach Mark Fox said he had his team go zone because it wasn’t holding up well in man-to-man.

Worth mentioning

Diatta gets career highs: Two games ago against Auburn, Fox elected not to play junior forward Diatta. After the coaches’ decision, Diatta played 16 minutes in Georgia’s loss to South Carolina and a career-high 27 minutes Saturday. Diatta also logged a career-best 12 points on 3-of-4 shooting, aided by a 5-of-6 showing from the free-throw line, and had five rebounds.

Parker in double digits again: Parker only had a double-digit scoring performance once in his first 58 games at Georgia. Starting with Georgia’s game against Louisiana-Lafayette, Parker has logged double figures five times in the past seven games. Against Missouri, Parker 11 points on 3-of-6 shooting, with five points coming from the free-throw line. Over the past seven games, Parker is averaging 10.6 points.

Missouri’s woes continue: Missouri head coach Kim Anderson is in his third year and things have yet to improve, especially on the road. The Tigers have now lost their 27th consecutive game away from home. Under Anderson, Missouri is 0-22 on the road, which includes going 0-19 on the road in the SEC. This is also Missouri’s seventh consecutive SEC loss, dating back to last season.

They said it

Maten on Georgia’s second-half performance: “There was a lot of energy in the building, on our team, the coaching staff, everywhere. It wasn’t hard to really find energy to play the game. Sometimes you got to get yourself riled up, but everybody was really riled up at that point during the second half.”

Frazier on the slow start in the first half: “We came out a little too lackadaisical, a little too cool. They played us heavy zone, so we couldn’t really get into a rhythm. We were second-guessing passes and drives and stuff like that, but once we figured it out, we started to play better and more fluid.”

Fox on the Stegeman Coliseum crowd coming despite cold and somewhat icy weather: “Our crowd certainly lifted our team (Saturday). I thank everybody that braved the cold weather and slick roads to come and support our team and these players. Our crowd and our students were just tremendous. It was a game where I felt like we brought the result of the last game into it and played flat in the first half. Then, everybody picked us up and we were certainly much better in the second half.”

What’s next?

Georgia travels to Mississippi Wednesday for a 7 p.m. tip.

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