Georgia basketball’s season came to an end on Wednesday when the Bulldogs fell to Belmont 78-69 in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.
The loss was a disappointing one for the Bulldogs. They were awarded a No. 2 seed for the NIT, while Belmont was only a No. 8 seed. They entered the game already disadvantaged by the lack of star forward Yante Maten and junior Juwan Parker due to injury.
Maten had missed four full games due to a sprained knee. Although he played in the two SEC tournament games for Georgia, he was said to have had a relapse in his injury that made him unable to play against Belmont.
Georgia also played Belmont in the first round of the NIT last year. They won that game 93-84, but went on to lose in the second round to St. Mary’s.
The Bulldogs looked lackluster in the loss, making only four three-pointers throughout the whole game. The team had shown that it could win without Maten, winning three of four full games without him thanks to senior J.J. Frazier essentially carrying the team on his back. But the loss of Maten showed in the game against Belmont.
Georgia kept the game close in the first half, heading into halftime down by only three points. However, Belmont steadily increased their lead throughout the second half, ultimately winning by nine points.
Had they won, the Bulldogs would have faced their in-state rival Georgia Tech in the second round of the NIT. When the two teams faced off in Atlanta in December, Georgia won handily by a score of 60-43.
The end to Georgia’s season meant the end of an era for Georgia basketball. The game was J.J. Frazier’s final game at Georgia, as he is a senior and has exhausted his eligibility. Frazier had 29 points in the loss, marking his fourteenth straight game scoring over ten points.
The team will lose a lot in J.J. Frazier next year. Although they will retain Maten, a junior, for his fourth year of eligibility, Frazier was an integral part of the Georgia team over the years. Even when Maten was out, the Bulldogs continued to win thanks to Frazier’s high scoring and his success behind the arc.
A new guard will need to step up next year to fill Frazier’s place in order for the team to be successful next season.
Frazier received a standing ovation and chants of his name at his final game in Stegeman Coliseum. He tweeted out a message on Friday, thanking coach Mark Fox and the university for the opportunity to play at Georgia and expressing his happiness for having represented the Bulldogs throughout his four years of college. The duo of Maten and Frazier was one of the best in the SEC, and Frazier will be greatly missed by his teammates and fans alike.