ATHENS, Ga. — Despite 29 points from J.J. Frazier, the Georgia Bulldogs fell 78-69 to Belmont in the first round of the 2017 National Invitation Tournament.
Frazier, who finishes the season with 13 games with 20 or more points, led Georgia (19-14) in scoring and added a pair of rebounds and assists. William Jackson II and Tyree Crump each scored 10 points, and as a team, the Bulldogs committed a season-low five turnovers.
“We just could not find a lineup that could get stops and also play offense,” Georgia head coach Mark Fox said. “We were disjointed and Belmont has a great shooting team. We couldn’t settle on a defense that could slow them down on the three-point line. They had two spurts, one to start the second half and one in the middle of the first, that they knocked in some three-point shots and that really was the difference in the game.”
The Bulldogs were without their second- and third-leading scorers, as Yante Maten and Juwan Parker each missed the game due to injury. Maten suffered an unexpected setback from his knee sprain following last weekend’s SEC Tournament, while Parker suffered a partial tear to his right Achilles.
The game opened with a series of runs, with Belmont (23-6) racing out to an 11-4 lead and the Bulldogs quickly tying the game at 13. Later, after holding Georgia to a stretch of 0-of-5 shooting, Belmont was able to go on another run, this time taking a 25-17 advantage. The Bruins, who came into the game averaging nearly 30 three-point attempts per game, hit their fifth three-pointer of the game just over 10 minutes in and led by as much as nine in the opening period.
Entering the final five minutes of the first half down by seven, Georgia got layups on back-to-back possessions from Jordan Harris and Frazier and cut the lead to three. On the next Georgia possession, following some quick ball movement, E’Torrion Wilridge found Tyree Crump for a three-pointer that tied the game. During the 7-0 run, the Bulldogs were able to hold Belmont scoreless for nearly three minutes. The Bruins then put home a few shots in the final two minutes and took a 37-34 lead into the break.
In the first five minutes of the second half, Belmont was 5-of-5 from three-point range and got out to a 54-43 lead. At the 11:46 mark, Frazier went 1-of-2 at the line and cut the lead to nine. The first free throw, which Frazier missed, snapped a Georgia-record 45 consecutive made free throws for the senior. He finishes his career with the highest free-throw percentage in Georgia history at 84.1-percent, breaking Jerry Eppling’s record of 82.2-percent.
With the Bulldogs down 68-54, Frazier scored the game’s next six points and got the deficit back down to eight, but the Bruins led by 10 following the final media timeout. The Bulldogs could not close the gap, scoring just seven points in the game’s final four minutes. Belmont finished the game 14-of-31 (45.2-percent) from three-point range and won the rebounding margin, 35-32.