Georgia pushes win streak to 6, beats Norfolk State 63-50
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) Georgia finished second in the Southeastern Conference last year, and still did not get a slot in the NCAA Tournament, its season marred by a lackluster non-conference resume.
The Bulldogs' body of work looks very different this year as conference play cranks up Tuesday.
Sophomore J.J. Frazier came off the bench to score a career-high 20 points, leading Georgia to its sixth straight victory, 63-50 over Norfolk State Saturday afternoon.
A year ago Georgia was 6-6 with no signature victories. This year's wins include home wins over Colorado and Seton Hall and a road victory at Kansas State.
''We are not going to celebrate yet,'' said Coach Mark Fox. ''We still have work to do. We are not in the tournament. We don't have a ticket. We are still in line. We are just in a different place in the line.''
Fox, in fact, was not particularly pleased with the performance of his team Saturday. On the heels of Georgia's 50-46 win at Kansas State Wednesday, Fox was concerned his team would be flat.
''I was worried about this game,'' he said. ''I did not like our approach at the shoot-around. You have to be mature enough to show up ready to play every game. The fortunate thing is J.J. did. He came to play, and he played well.''
Frazier, a 5-foot-10 sophomore, hit seven of eight field goals, including four of five 3-pointers and chipped in five rebounds.
''He adds a great dimension for our team,'' Fox said. ''He can shoot, and he makes other people better. He has the green light to shoot just about any time he wants to. He is a good rebounder because he is so fast.''
Charles Mann scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season for Georgia (9-3).
Jeff Short led Norfolk State (9-7) with 16 points. The Spartans shot just 29.7 percent from the field and missed 19 of 26 3-point attempts.
''I thought it was a winnable game,'' said Norfolk State guard D'Shon Taylor, ''if we had been able to make more shots.''
''Our team was pretty confident coming into this game,'' said Spartans Coach Robert Jones, who drew a technical foul late. ''If we had hit some of our shots, this might have been a totally different game.''
Norfolk State scored the first basket of the game but never led again. After Georgia built a 13 point lead at halftime, the Spartans got as close as 38-34 in the second half after Short's 3-pointer with 13:30 to go.
But Frazier responded with a coast-to-coast layup and a 3-pointer, and Georgia went back up 45-34 with11:11 left.
The Bulldogs could never put the game out of reach, but neither could the Spartans seriously threaten again.
''Early in the game, I try to be a table-setter,'' Frazier said, ''and look for my teammates. ''Sometimes the opportunity is there for me to score.''
''It is a good thing J.J. and some of the guys off the bench picked up the slack,'' Mann said.
After Norfolk State scored the first basket, the Bulldogs quickly jumped in front 7-2 with a low-post basket by Marcus Thornton, a 3-pointer by Kenny Gaines and two free throws by Mann.
The lead grew to seven before a mini-rally by Norfolk State closed the gap to 18-17 with 7:01 to go in the first half after a 3-pointer from the corner by Malik Gray.
Georgia closed out the half with an 18-6 stretch, its scoring spread evenly.
Norfolk State scored the first three baskets of the second half to cut the deficit to 36-31 after Taylor's 3-pointer from the corner.
Nemanja Djurisic scored the Bulldogs' first points of the second half on an athletic baseline drive, but Short's 3-pointer made it 38-34.
Then Gaines hit a driving layup, and Frazier went the length of the floor for a layup, followed up with a 3-pointer in transition. Georgia led 45-34 with 11:11 to go.
Norfolk State: The Spartans out-rebounded Georgia 43-37.
Georgia: The Bulldogs' 9-3 record is the best pre-conference record since 2011, and the six-game win streak is the first since 2011 as well.
Georgia had scored just one basket in the first seven minutes of the second half, and its 13-point lead was down to 38-34. Gaines converted an offensive rebound that sparked a quick 7-0 run in 100 seconds, deflating the Spartans' rally.
Norfolk State entered the game shooting 36 percent from the 3-point line, but in two games against Southeastern Conference opponents, Vanderbilt and Georgia, the Spartans have hit just 22 percent.
Norfolk State travels to Princeton Tuesday for its last non-conference game of the season.
Georgia opens the Southeastern Conference schedule at home Tuesday against Arkansas.