You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Georgia survives another day — except the next day is Kentucky

There were a number of goals for this season, but this wasn’t one of them: Kentucky on Friday.

Maybe Kentucky in the finals, with everything else falling into place this season. Maybe Kentucky in the semis, with an NCAA berth already secure and Georgia merely seeking a better seed.

But this season hasn’t unfolded the way Mark Fox anticipated, so the Bulldogs are left needing a signature win in potentially the final game of their season to impress a bank of computers, a room of selection-committee members and a mass of doubters who’ve believed the season realistically has been over for weeks.

“I don’t care what people think,” Georgia guard J.J. Frazier said Thursday. “I mean, y’all can say what you want. It doesn’t matter to us. We believe in ourselves regardless of who we play. At the end of the day, if we play hard and give it everything we’ve got, we’ll live with the result.”

Georgia lost a number of games by a hiccup and/or a broken clock during the regular season. This time, it went the other way, as the Dogs opened play in the SEC tournament by winning a close one over Tennessee 59-57.

So congrats, Dogs. You’re in the Elite Eight. Of the SEC.

Georgia’s penance for a 9-9 conference record and a corresponding No. 8 seed this week. It must face another No. 8: Kentucky, which is ranked eighth nationally.

Can the Dogs win? Yes. But …

  • The Wildcats aren’t going to shoot 19-for-58 from the floor as Tennessee did.
  • The Wildcats won’t be clinging to a 27-26 halftime lead as Tennessee was if Georgia commits 10 first-half turnovers again.
  • Kentucky isn’t likely to lose if Frazier is again uncommonly cold from the outside (4-for-13).

“They played the same defense everybody else has played for the last 25 games,” Frazier said of Tennessee. “I just missed shots, missed layups. It happens.”

Not often, actually. Frazier carried this team recently and often this season. But he won the game for the Dogs despite an off-night. He led them in scoring with 17 points, going 8-for-8 from the free-throw line. (He has made 32 consecutive free throws and 39 of 40 in the past four games.)

Get ready: He also led them in … rebounding.

Yes, at 5-foot-10, 155 pounds dripping wet and wearing ankle weights, Frazier grabbed 10 boards. That hasn’t happened since … “I had 11 against Seton Hall my sophomore year,” he said.

Not that he’s keeping track.

Georgia will need Frazier to do it all in the next game. The Bulldogs will be a heavy underdog amid a sea of blue in the quarterfinals of the Kentucky Invitational.

But, yes, they have a shot. Yante Maten, in his first game back in nearly three weeks after a knee sprain, made his first two shots Thursday and was better than expected, with 12 points, five rebounds and two blocks. Quoting: “I’m still a little ways off from where I want to be. Not in terms of pain. I can just play a lot better.”

Georgia also was strong on defense against Tennessee, including on the last possession, when the Volunteers had to work the possession to get an open shot just before the horn. Tennessee got the ball to Admiral Schofield outside the arc in the final seconds, but his shot was short, grazing the front of the rim.

It was another close game, a microcosm of the Dogs’ season, except this time Georgia won.

“The last two or three, we’ve been able to get a win,” Frazier said. “So maybe it’s balancing out.”

The Dogs also threw a scare into Kentucky twice this season: They led by two points with 10 seconds left in Lexington before Malik Monk made a jumper to send the game to overtime, when Kentucky nailed down the win. Georgia also led the Wildcats by a bucket in the final minute in Athens, but lost.

Asked if the teams draws confidence from those two games, Frazier said: “No. We lost. We don’t take moral victories.”

OK, right attitude.

If you’re looking for one more positive going into the Kentucky game, there’s this: As poorly as they played at times Thursday and as much they lost some games they should’ve won, they’ve never pulled apart this season, even against the backdrop of narrow defeats, Maten’s absence and questions about Fox’s future.

“We’re a family, and we talk about it,” Fox said. “This is about our players’ chance this year as a team. I told them that’s what we’re going to keep our focus on. We didn’t try to shield them from it. I don’t think that’s possible, anyway.”

Asked about Kentucky, he said, “If they get the right matchups (in the NCAA tournament), they can win the whole thing.”

Georgia is just trying to get into The Thing. Its RPI entering Thursday was 53. Its most impressive win came over Vanderbilt, which currently has an RPI of 45. Kentucky’s RPI is 7. Win this game, and the Dogs might just make it into the tournament that really matters.

It’s monumental task, but that’s the situation they created.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

‘Tricky’ hamstring injury keeps Kemp out of Braves lineup
‘Tricky’ hamstring injury keeps Kemp out of Braves lineup

Braves left fielder Matt Kemp so far hasn’t been able to pull off the difficult balancing act of letting his nagging hamstring injury heal while continuing to play. Kemp was out of the lineup for the second straight game on Saturday. He left Thursday’s game because of what the Braves said was tightness in his left hamstring. “It&rsquo...
Lions QB Stafford a lock for big money, but does he deserve it?
Lions QB Stafford a lock for big money, but does he deserve it?

Who's a better NFL quarterback: Matthew Stafford or Derek Carr? Which of the 20-something gunslingers would you rather have lead your team for the next five years? Which is most deserving of the richest contract in NFL history? Carr signed a record five-year deal worth a reported $125 million on Thursday, and for at least the next few weeks he'll be...
Michael Jordan fan has crying LeBron James tattooed on leg
Michael Jordan fan has crying LeBron James tattooed on leg

Kalen Gilleese concedes that LeBron James is one of pro basketball’s greatest players, but he still believes that the Cleveland Cavaliers’ star is not in the class of Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, his favorite player. >> Read more trending news So after the Cavs were beaten in the NBA Finals by the Golden State Warriors, Gilleese...
Dream defense unable to slow Sky in 82-78 loss
Dream defense unable to slow Sky in 82-78 loss

Returning from a lackluster road trip and hosting the slumping Chicago Sky, the Atlanta Dream needed some home cooking on its annual Pride Night. It didn’t get it. The Dream’s offense couldn’t keep pace in an 82-78 loss Friday night at McCamish Pavilion. Atlanta (5-6) has lost five of its last six games. “Tough game to lose...
Braves win with key plays by rookies Swanson, Camargo
Braves win with key plays by rookies Swanson, Camargo

It was like old times on Friday for Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson and third baseman Johan Camargo. The pair played infield for Double-A Mississippi last season and are doing it with the Braves now that Camargo is getting regular playing time. Each made superlative defensive plays to hold off Brewers rallies during the 5-4 Braves victory at SunTrust...
More Stories