Dog Notes: Frazier Sparks Strong Finish
Sophomore E'Torrion Wilrdige had 5 points, six rebounds and four assists Tuesday.
Feb. 15, 2017

By John Frierson
UGAAA Staff Writer

You knew J.J. Frazier was going to get going ... because he's J.J. Frazier and sooner or later he always seems to come alive offensively.

Scoreless at halftime Tuesday night against Mississippi State at Stegeman Coliseum, having missed all four of his first-half shots, the senior guard scored 17 in the final 20 minutes and provided the spark the Red and Black Bulldogs needed in their 79-72 win.

Georgia trailed State 32-28 at the half, having made just 7 of 28 shots from the field in the opening period. The Dogs were a different bunch in the second half, going 16-for-24 (66.7 percent) and assisting on 12 of their 16 field goals. Frazier went 4-for-7 from the field in the second half, hitting three 3-points, and also went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.

“That’s J.J. Frazier — J.J. goes crazy,” guard Juwan Parker said. “He has those little spurts like that of miraculous scoring. That’s him.”

Frazier wasn’t the only Bulldog with a big second half. Forward Yante Maten also struggled from the field in the first 20 minutes, going 1-for-6 from the floor, but he was 7-for-7 from the line. Maten finished with a game-high 24 points, hitting 5 of 7 shots in the second half.

“I thought we had no rhythm in the first half,” coach Mark Fox said. “I thought J.J. was a little heavy-legged and didn’t look like himself; I thought we had no rhythm in how we were trying to play and I was running too many guys in and out.”

Georgia’s defense sparked much of its offense in the second half, with blocks and steals leading to transition baskets. A Maten steal, dribble and dish to Derek Ogbeide for a layup tied the game at 32 early in the second half. Later, a Turtle Jackson block led to a Frazier pass to Parker for a pullup jumper and a 45-40 lead.

“Really, we played better defense, I think, and that got us going — a couple of fast breaks and a couple of easy ones and that got us in a better rhythm,” Parker said.

And when Georgia wasn’t scoring from the floor, it was connecting at the line. The Dogs finished 28-for-32 from the free-throw line, with Maten hitting 12 of 13, Parker 8 of 8 and Frazier hitting all six of his.

In his past two games Frazier has played a combined 77 out of a possible 8- minutes. In that time he’s scored a total of 46 points, with 12 assists and just three turnovers.

Wilridge Shines In Start

In Georgia’s starting lineup you can count on finding Maten, Frazier, Ogbeide and Parker — the first three have started all 26 games and Parker has started 24 of 25. But that fifth starting spot, it’s been anything but permanent or predictable.

Freshman guard Jordan Harris has started 12 games and Jackson 11. Last Saturday, freshman guard Tyree Crump earned the starting spot, the first of his career, in the Bulldogs’ dramatic 76-75 win at Tennessee, hitting three 3-pointers and scoring 13 points.

But that solid outing didn’t guarantee Crump anything. The fifth starter for the Bulldogs Tuesday night against Mississippi State? Another player making his first career start, sophomore forward E’Torrion Wilridge.

“I thought E’Torrion played extremely well defensively and that’s why I started him,” Fox said.

One game after seeing six minutes of action off the bench at Tennessee, Wilridge played 29 minutes Tuesday. He contributed 5 points, on a putback and a 3-pointer in the first half, while adding six rebounds, a career-high four assists and a blocked shot.

“That’s one thing coach emphasizes, we have a deep team and anybody can step up on any given night,” Parker said. “Tonight it was [Wilridge’s] night and I’m happy for him.”

As Georgia pulled ahead for good down the stretch, Wilridge twice hit Maten for easy baskets inside.

“It’s easy to pass to Yante, you can just throw it anywhere and he’ll catch it,” Wilridge said.

In all, 11 different Bulldogs have started at least once this season; six have started more than one game. Will Wilridge join that group next? We’ll have to wait and see.

What’s Next?

The Bulldogs get a little bit of a rest before hosting No. 13 Kentucky on Saturday; it’s a sellout that tips off at 6 p.m. Kentucky (21-5, 11-2) beat Tennessee 83-58 on Tuesday.

John Frierson is the staff writer for the UGA Athletic Association and curator of the ITA Men’s Tennis Hall of Fame. You can find his work at: Frierson Files. He’s also on Twitter: @FriersonFiles and @ITAHallofFame.



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