Tigers fall behind quickly, lose sight of Bulldogs in 68-44 loss
ATHENS, Ga. — J.J. Frazier isn’t ready to assume a lopsided win over Missouri means Georgia is headed to the NCAA tournament.
Nemanja Djurisic scored 14 points and Georgia strengthened its NCAA tournament hopes with a runaway 68-44 win over Missouri on Saturday.
Georgia (19-9, 10-6 Southeastern Conference) has won three straight games, including road wins against Alabama and Mississippi, since back-to-back disappointing home losses to Auburn and South Carolina.
"We can’t celebrate too much about this win," said Frazier, who had 10 points, five assists and three steals. "We gave away two games at home. We made it tough on ourselves. Our back was against the wall, but we’re fighting out of it."
The Bulldogs, 5-3 on the road in conference games, needed to avoid a third straight home loss to one of the league’s worst teams. Georgia began the day with a No. 29 ranking in the NCAA RPI and plays host to No. 1 Kentucky on Tuesday night.
Missouri (8-21, 2-14) couldn’t manage a second straight win after ending a 13-game losing streak by beating Florida 64-52 on Tuesday night. The Tigers, last in the SEC, trailed by double figures most of the game.
The Wildcats made only 14 of 49 shots from the field (28.6 percent). Missouri had worse shooting in only one other game this season, an 86-37 loss at Kentucky in which it made only 27.1 percent of its shots (16 of 59).
Missouri coach Kim Anderson said his players couldn’t match Georgia’s intensity.
"To their credit, (Georgia) came out today ready to play and it’s frustrating," Anderson said. "In the first half especially, our front line really struggled to score. You can’t do that."
Anderson said the Bulldogs "got every loose ball and every rebound that flew off."
A 3-pointer by Djurisic gave Georgia an 18-8 lead. The Bulldogs led 30-18 following a three by Kenny Paul Geno, and they kept the lead in double figures the remainder of the game.
"We definitely made an emphasis that we wanted to come out and compete from the tip," said forward Marcus Thornton.
Georgia led 41-23 at halftime and stretched the lead to 28 points at 55-27 on two straight baskets by Cameron Forte — a follow-up layup and a jam.
Following Forte’s jam, the Bulldogs kept the lead over 20 points despite going more than six minutes without scoring.
Forte had 10 points for Georgia. Thornton finished with eight points and seven rebounds.
Missouri: A 3-pointer by Namon Wright gave the Tigers their only lead at 3-2. Wright, a freshman who had 28 points in the win over Florida, had 10 points. … Johnathan Williams also had 10 points despite making only three of 13 shots. … The Tigers were outrebounded 47-30.
Georgia: It was the largest margin of victory in a SEC game under coach Mark Fox. … The 1990 SEC championship team was recognized at halftime. Former coach Hugh Durham, who was welcomed with a long "Huuuugh!" from fans — returned with his players, including Litterial Green, Rod Cole and Neville Austin. Another star of the team, Alec Kessler, died in 2007 and was recently inducted posthumously into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
KENTUCKY IS COMING
Fox said undefeated Kentucky is "one of the great teams of all time" with a front line that is bigger than most NBA teams. Asked how he will prepare for the Wildcats, who beat the Bulldogs 69-58 on Feb. 3, Fox joked he may ask for help from Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer.
"I’ll call Bud over there and see if we can scrimmage the Hawks tomorrow," Fox said.
Georgia sophomore guard Juwan Parker played for the first time since missing 11 straight games with an Achilles injury. Parker, who started in 14 of 15 games before the injury, had one point and one assist in a brief late-game appearance.
Missouri: Hosts Auburn on Tuesday night.
Georgia: Hosts No. 1 Kentucky on Tuesday night.