NASHVILLE, Tenn. – J.J. Frazier needed only one word to describe the difference with Georgia over the past three games.
"Aggression," he said.
Since dropping a stunning 84-81 loss on the road at Auburn on Feb. 24, the Bulldogs have won three consecutive games against Mississippi, South Carolina and Alabama. In doing so, Georgia has played with better balance and consistency on both ends.
The Bulldogs (17-12, 10-8 SEC) have also been able to rally when falling behind as well. In both the South Carolina and Alabama games, Georgia trailed at times during the second half. Instead of letting the game get away from them, the Bulldogs were able to respond and ultimately score victories.
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Facing an uphill battle in terms of the NCAA Tournament since the Auburn loss, Georgia has played with a different determination that Frazier anticipates carrying into Thursday’s SEC Tournament opener against Mississippi State (14-16, 7-11).
"There’s no risk in losing it because we’re not where we want to be," Frazier said. "Until we get where we want to be we’re going to play with determination. Even if we get where we want to be, the determination would have gotten us where we want to be. We got to continue to do that, play hard and we’ll be fine."
There have been times after losses where Georgia players admitted to not having the needed mental state at the start of a game.
During this three-game winning streak, that’s seemed to have changed. Head coach Mark Fox attributed this to the lessons learned when not entering a game in the proper fashion.
"They learned some things throughout the year that when they’re not in the right place mentally they don’t play well," Fox said.
During the SEC coaches’ teleconference on Monday, Fox downplayed the notion that the Auburn game – or the poor performance in the first half – had a drastic effect with what’s changed since. At the same time, it’s hard to ignore how the Bulldogs have performed since.
Not only is Georgia riding a three-game winning streak but it’s gotten off to fast starts in the first half. The Bulldogs have led each of the past three games at halftime while also outscoring Mississippi and Alabama in the second half, too.
"We learned we played lackadaisical against teams," Frazier said. "We have to play hard at all times. From that point on we’ve been playing hard and aggressive, and it’s been working out for us."