Kenny Gaines carries UGA past Murray State

Kenny Gaines must not of liked the idea of starting out 0-2 this season.

The senior from Atlanta torched Murray State for a career-high 35 points, simply willing his Bulldogs to their first win of the season.

With 4:11 left in the game, the Racers jumped ahead 50-48 following a pair of free throws from point guard Bryce Jones, erasing a Georgia lead that had been as high as 8 points just 5 minutes earlier.

Unfortunately for Murray, though, their comeback would end there as Kenny Gaines rattled off three-pointers on the next three possessions for UGA, and after his free throw with 1:35 remaining Georgia held a 58-52 lead that they would not relinquish, ultimately winning this one 63-52.

The other major highlight of the night other than Gaines was the Dawgs’ defense, which looked much improved since the debacle against Chattanooga last Friday.  Georgia consistently closed out strong on the Racers, holding them to just 30% from the floor and only 17% from beyond the arc.  UGA also did a great job of limiting the Racers to just one shot – Murray managed only 10 offensive rebounds because Georgia hauled down over 75% of the Racer misses, which led to just 3 second-chance points for MSU.

While Murray shot the ball poorly, Georgia shot it worse, connecting on under 30% from the field.  Kenny Gaines made 10 of his 18 field goal attempts, but the rest of the Dawgs hit under 18% of theirs.  J.J. Frazier was 1 of 11 and Charles Mann 0 for 7.

Yante Maten grabbed 10 rebounds, but he looked lost on offense, missing a plethora of hook shots that led to a 2 for 8 shooting performance. Hopefully Maten has more in his arsenal than the hook, or UGA is going to struggle to find offense in the paint because right now the Dawgs do not have any sort of productivity coming from that area of the floor.

Freshman Mike Edwards scored just 2 points because he missed a couple of easy put backs, but he was very active on the glass, snagging 8 rebounds in 26 minutes (3 of them offensive).  As the season progresses, Edwards may play his way into the starting five with his athleticism.

The only other tidbit of interest from this one was Coach Mark Fox’s decision to sit senior Charles Mann for the game’s final 5 minutes.  Even when UGA had taken control of the game thanks to Gaines, Mann remained on the bench.  Mann’s free throw shooting continues to be a problem (1 of 2 last night), so it’s possible that Fox saw him as a liability down the stretch once the Dawgs had the lead.  To Mann’s credit, he was the loudest cheerleader on the UGA bench up until the final horn.

This win gets Georgia to an even 1-1, with a chance to get above .500 right before turkey day as they host High Point on Wednesday here in Athens.

6 thoughts on “Kenny Gaines carries UGA past Murray State

  1. Thanks for the write-up, Hoop! This is the only site where I get to read an honest assessment of the basketball team since the AJC doesn’t even cover the games anymore.

    I didn’t get to see the game, but the box score looks pretty rough, offensive-wise. LOTS of missed shots. Did we look as bad as the box score suggests?


    1. I echo the appreciation of Hoop’s columns – I look forward to all the conversations each year. In fairness to the AJC, they hired Seth Emerson from Macon and he has historically been solid at covering the Basketball team, and had a nice write up last night.

      The game was quite ugly at times. Do many chances to stretch out leads but just couldn’t score. Free throw shooting continued to be a huge struggle and I don’t understand how we don’t see any progression year to year. The young guys look like they will end up being okay, but we have a very obvious talent gap in the paint. Kessler and others don’t look like they want or are comfortable with the ball.


    2. The Dawgs are really missing Neme. Maten will be able to replace Thornton, but I’m not sure who’s going to replace Neme, who could knock down threes and score inside. Right now, the Dawgs are fairly easy to defend because they only have one or two guys (at most) that the D needs to key in on.


  2. Just caught pieces of the game but our defense looked strong while our offense smelled stronger.

    Hope we get the kinks worked out. Some of the youngsters played well and seem like they will contribute this year.

    Thanks for the good hoops blog!


  3. I love Hoops opinions and have been to a few games so far this season. I really like the Edwards and echo his thoughts on him ending up starting. If he and and Maten start finishing the Bulldogs will be a force. I was at the game and they missed at least 15 3 footers or less. I can don’t think that will continue. I wish the big boys would go up with authority. I don’t want to take hits from hoop but another great site is to supplement his great work.


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