The Georgia Bulldogs returned to the hard courts for the first time since galavanting this summer throughout Spain, where UGA won all of its exhibitions. In tonight’s exhibition game, the Dawgs played host to the Fort Valley State Wildcats, a team hailing from the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC).
The Wildcats were undersized and overmatched, and the Dawgs dismantled them inside Stegeman by a count of 94-38. Even though this game meant nothing in regards to the win-loss column, Mark Fox’s team definitely showed up with a sense of purpose defensively, holding Fort Valley to under 25% from the field. UGA subbed at an incredible rate, even for Fox, yet for the most part everyone who came in entered the game prepared to work on the defensive end. The Wildcats had managed just 2 points after nearly ten minutes of game time had eclipsed.
Offensively, Georgia was led by Yante Maten, who looked like a man among boys on Thursday. Maten scored a game-high 19 points on an array of hooks and dunks, and he even added a three. After being selected to the preseason All-SEC Second Team, Maten certainly appears poised for a big junior season.
UGA’s other star, senior J.J. Frazier, who was a All-SEC First Team selection, scored only 9 points. However, Frazier played sparingly, and he did have a nice stretch in the second half when he buried a series of three-pointers.
Both Maten and Frazier are two of Georgia’s known commodities, though. Tonight, fans headed to Stegeman to see some of the new Bulldog players as well as some of last year’s returning sophomores. The biggest surprise on the night had to be the play of freshman guard Tyree Crump, who comes from the same hometown as Kirby Smart: Bainbridge, Georgia. The rumors circling around Crump after the trip to Spain were that he could get hot from the perimeter, and the freshman did not disappoint on Thursday. Crump actually missed his first two attempts from beyond the arc, prompting Fox to sub him out. However, before a stoppage of play could occur, Crump knocked down a pair of three’s to get himself in the scoring column. He hit two more three-pointers in the second half, and Crump also scored on a nice drive off the dribble. Kenny Paul Geno and Juwan Parker may have started this game, but do not be surprised if Crump doesn’t play himself into one of the starting spots as the season progresses.
But in the end, it’s important to remember that tonight’s game was merely a surface-level look into this year’s UGA basketball team. The Dawgs played a ton of guys, and their opponent resembled nothing of what the competition will look like next Friday when Georgia opens at Clemson. Coach Fox does have two bonafide stars at his disposal in Frazier and Maten, though, and he appears to have a deeper bench than in years past.