No Kenny Gaines? No problem.
At least not for tonight.
Despite not having Gaines on the floor against the Winthrop Eagles (6-2) due to a minor knee injury, Georgia (4-3) turned in one of its better offensive performances of the season. The Dawgs only shot 38% from the floor, but they dished out a season-high 17 assists. Coach Fox had to be pleased with his team’s unselfishness as well as their ability to hit the open cutters tonight.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that Yante Maten finished his fourth straight game with more than 20 points, scoring 24 this evening to go along with 12 rebounds, giving him his second double-double of the season. The game definitely seems to be slowing down for Maten, who appears to be bursting with confidence on offense, scoring consistently on his mid-range jumpers and hook shots.
Maten was not the only double-doubler, though, as little J.J. Frazier managed to snag 10 boards in addition to his 15 points. He did have another tough night from the floor, however, hitting only 4 of his 14 attempts.
Charles Mann was the only other Bulldog to end up in double-figures, scoring 14 points on a 2 for 8 shooting performance.
UGA’s offense is much more effective when the ball is moving, and players are moving without the ball. When the Dawgs start relying more on creation off the dribble from Frazier or Mann is when things start to get a little stagnant.
Georgia jumped out to a double-digit lead and maintained it for much of the first half, largely due to the fact that Winthrop only had 5 field goals through the game’s first 15 minutes of play. With 4:23 left before intermission, UGA held a commanding 29-14 advantage.
In the second half, though, the Eagles found their range from beyond the arc, knocking down 6 of their 12 three-point attempts. Roderick Perkins, who scored 14 points, nailed a three with 7:53 remaining that cut the UGA lead to 57-51.
Over the next minute, Georgia made 6 straight free throws, bolstering their advantage back into double-digits. The Dawgs were able to keep the Eagles at bay for the latter stretch of the game, giving UGA the 74-64 home win.
While Winthrop is far from a powerhouse, they were picked to finish near the top of the Big South Conference before the start of the season. More importantly, Georgia avoided a potentially bad loss in a game in which they were playing without their leading scorer.
The Dawgs have 11 days off before returning to Stegeman for the yearly matchup with Georgia Tech, a team that UGA hasn’t beaten in four years (or since Brian Gregory took he reigns). The Jackets have already knocked off Tennessee and Arkansas this year, so Georgia had better be at full strength on December 19th if they hope to be competitive in this one.