Disappointing Georgia season ends, focus turns to next year
A disappointing Georgia season ended with two injured starters watching from the bench.
The Bulldogs entered the year with high expectations, including playing in the NCAA Tournament. But after failing to reach that goal, Georgia (19-15) hosted a first-round game in the NIT only to have Yante Maten and Juwan Parker sitting out as the Bulldogs were ousted by Belmont.
It was a disappointing finish to coach Mark Fox’s eighth season. Athletic director Greg McGarity told The Associated Press on Thursday he “stands” on a vote of confidence he gave Fox on March 7 following a report by Yahoo Sports that Georgia was evaluating possible candidates to succeed the coach.
Fox acknowledged the season did not live up to expectations.
“We had some disappointments this year,” Fox said. “We still were able to win 19 games and get in the postseason. There was more that we wanted to do and we fully recognize that.”
Now Fox and the Bulldogs will turn their attention to next season.
They will lose high-scoring guard J.J. Frazier, but Maten — who sat out the finale with a sprained knee — is expected to return for his senior season.
Georgia said Parker will see specialists to determine the proper treatment for the partial tear in his right Achilles, which would have forced him to miss the remainder of the NIT if Georgia had won. Parker, the team’s third-leading scorer, missed last season with a torn left Achilles.
Frazier was Georgia’s only starting senior. Forward Derek Ogbeide, who emerged as Georgia’s top rebounder, is expected to joining Maten and Parker, if healthy, as the top returning players. Guards William “Turtle” Jackson and Jordan Harris, who started 12 games as a freshman, also are expected to return.
With Georgia short-handed, Frazier couldn’t salvage the season Wednesday night. He ended his Bulldogs career with 29 points in a 93-84 loss to Belmont .
Georgia announced about an hour before the game that Maten, the fourth-leading scorer in the Southeastern Conference, aggravated the knee sprain in Georgia’s SEC Tournament loss to Kentucky last week and would not play against Belmont.
Georgia struggled on defense without Maten and Parker. Belmont made 14 3-pointers and will play at Georgia Tech in a second-round NIT game on Sunday.
Frazier said Georgia could not make the needed defensive adjustments.
“It was hard,” Frazier said. “Belmont shoots really well, and it’s hard to adjust for that overnight.”
Frazier scored 28 or more points in each of Georgia’s five games without Maten and received an ovation from fans at the end of the game.
“It was nice to know that the fans appreciated my hard work,” Frazier said. “I put my heart and soul into this university. If you were to cut me open, my blood would be red and black. I love Georgia. It’s nice that my efforts didn’t go unnoticed.”
Georgia made only 4 of 17 3-pointers against Belmont.
“We just had no rhythm or execution with the lineups that we had,” Fox said. “We tried lots of different formulas but we couldn’t really execute with the guys in the spots they were in.”
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