Once again, Georgia came incredibly close to beating Kentucky.
The Bulldogs lost yet another heartbreaker to the Wildcats, this time a 82-77 on Saturday thriller that went back and forth through the full 40 minutes. Georgia guard J.J. Frazier played a magnificent game, dropping 36 points and doing almost everything possible to give his team a win.
But in the end, it wouldn’t be enough.
With the game tied at 75, Georgia’s attempt at a shot was thwarted by a swarming defense that took possession. After two made free throws from Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox, Frazier put up a shot that didn’t fall and was rebounded by the Wildcats. Kentucky was able to secure the win from there.
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Georgia had to play 38 minutes of its game without junior forward Yante Maten. Maten went down with a right knee injury in the game’s first two minutes after colliding with Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe. Maten had to be attended to by the Georgia training staff and looked at in the locker room. He was administered a knee brace and returned to the bench, but was unable to return to the game.
Without Maten, Georgia got solid production from both big men Mike Edwards and Derek Ogbeide. Edwards finished with 10 points and Ogbeide scored four. Ogbeide added 11 rebounds.
In Maten’s absence, Frazier carried a heavy load throughout the game. Kentucky’s star-studded lineup could not contain him from driving the lane and finishing at the rim. Frazier shot 11 of 22 from the field and made two 3-pointers, including one from long range that went through at the first-half buzzer.
This was the second close game Georgia had against Kentucky. The Bulldogs fell 90-81 in overtime previously this year.
Four who mattered
Frazier: Frazier was incredible against the Wildcats, by going 11-of-22 from the field and connecting on 12 of his 15 free-throw attempts.
Edwards: Edwards scored 10 points and gave Georgia a big spark after Maten was forced to leave the game. Edwards had a highlight-reel jam in the second half that brought a lot of energy to the Stegeman Coliseum crowd.
Fox: Fox showed off his quickness and agility by penetrating the paint on multiple occasions. He finished with 16 points and did most of his damage at the free-throw line by going 8-of-10. His eight makes were consecutive after missing his first two.
Kentucky forward Derek Willis: While Willis only scored seven points, he came up with a game-high 12 rebounds. With Maten out of the game, Willis took advantage.
There wasn't one until the very end. It was as back-and-forth of a game that there can be.
Manufacturing points: With Maten leaving the game early, Georgia had to figure out a way to produce the scoring load that was lost. Frazier stepped up and posted 36 points, one off his career high. Getting 10 points from Edwards and 10 from guard Juwan Parker proved crucial in its quest for a potential upset. Forward Pape Diatta also contributed nine points, which included two takes to the rim and a 3-pointer. Georgia did everything it could to get a win. It just didn't end up showing on the final score.
Owned on the glass: Not having Maten proved to be a big blow when it came to Georgia rebounding the basketball. Kentucky brought down 41 rebounds to Georgia's 26. Willis had a field day with 12 rebounds and Bam Adebayo contributed eight rebounds. More importantly, the Wildcats recorded 14 offensive rebounds. With Georgia only notching two offensive rebounds, the difference in the game proved to be in this category.
Frazier's point total: Frazier's 36 points marks the most any single players has scored against Kentucky since Elston Turner (Texas A&M) dropped 40 against the Wildcats on Jan. 12, 2013. Frazier's 36 points marked a season high. Frazier also became the first Georgia player since Litterial Green to record three career games with 35 points or more.
Back and forth: Saturday's game featured 15 lead changes and 13 ties throughout the game. Fourteen of those lead changes occurred in the second half.
They said it
Fox on Georgia responding after Maten's injury: “I thought our team responded well. Kentucky has a great team. But when Yante’s out and Derek’s in foul trouble, we ended up playing really small. They obviously knew Yante wasn’t coming back and tried to wear us down. Really, the second-half rebounding, they had some offensive rebounds in the second half that were the key of the game. That’s something we’re disappointed in.”
Frazier on what he saw out of his teammates once Maten was forced to leave the game: “They showed me what I’ve already known but they showed y’all how tough we are, as a unit. We’ve been through a lot. Internally and externally we’ve been through a lot. They just proved how good they are with one of our best players going down. I’m extremely proud of our teammates and I told them that. I apologize for not making that shot. I felt I wasn’t clutch when I needed to be. But they know how much I love them.”
Edwards on the possibility of playing with Maten out of the lineup in the near future: “We’re going to keep grinding. We don’t know how tough it’s going to be. We hoping he gets back better soon.”
Georgia will have four days off before traveling to Alabama next Thursday for a 7 p.m. EST tip.