J.J. Frazier sent Mark Fox a text message Wednesday morning, stating something Georgia’s head coach didn’t believe.
"I’m going to play," Frazier wrote.
Fox told Frazier, who injured his foot in the SEC Tournament against Kentucky, two things in a reply: One, he’s not going to play. Two, he won’t make that decision. Little did Fox know at the time that the Georgia training staff would ultimately clear Frazier to play during pre-game warm-ups.
Given that Frazier didn't participate in an early-afternoon shootaround, Fox had every reason to believe Frazier wouldn’t play. But then he did.
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Frazier finished Georgia’s 93-84 win over Belmont in the NIT first round with 16 points on only 3-of-10 shooting. He didn’t start the game fast but made two crucial 3-pointers in the second half. The second one he hit was from long range and turned out to be the game-clincher, putting Georgia up by seven points with about 1:45 left to play in the game.
Frazier also hit all eight of his free throws. Since he wasn’t much of a scoring option early in the game, Frazier turned into a distributor and dished out a game-high 8 assists.
"He wasn’t very aggressive so he was a facilitator," Fox said. "Until late in the game he didn’t score much. He did make a big basket from the free-throw line and did his damage."
Fraizer, in both of his roles as a facilitator and as a shooter, gave Belmont fits throughout the game. Having studied Georgia over the past few days, Belmont head coach Rick Byrd knew Frazier would be a tough one to defend if he could give it a go Wednesday night.
"Is it OK to pray that maybe it’s a little worse (foot) sprain it is? It didn’t work," Byrd joked, drawing some laughs during his postgame news conference. "You just have to assume when you don’t know, you have to assume the guy’s going to play and prepare for the team like he’s going to play. I don’t know how limited he was. He sure made some quick, fast moves like I saw him do on video. He made the shot of the game, there’s no question about that.
"He’s one fun player to watch play. If he had not been out there, they would just be a different team. He makes them go."