The Georgia Bulldogs (7-3) put together what might have been their best overall effort of the season on Saturday afternoon, and the Charleston Southern Buccaneers (4-6) caught the brunt of it. The Dawgs built up a 17-5 advantage less than 7 minutes into the first half after an old-fashioned three-point play by Yante Maten, and UGA maintained a double-digit lead for the remainder of the afternoon. Finally, Georgia treated an overmatched opponent like an overmatched opponent, dominating the Bucs in just about every facet of this game. No second half single-digit leads. No pulling away in the latter stage of the game. UGA took it to Charleston Southern from the opening tip, and they didn’t take the foot off the gas pedal.
Georgia ran just about everything through Maten. Yante had 8 points before the players on the Charleston Southern bench could get situated in their seats. Maten scored 19 points before the break and 11 after it, matching his season high of 30 points on an 11 for 13 shooting effort from the floor. Amazingly, Yante did all of this scoring in just 22 minutes of play, and had he played his typical 32 minutes, he might have gone for 40. Maten’s ability to finish in the paint is reminiscent of former Bulldog great Jumaine Jones, who much like Yante, converted a high rate of field goals when he received the ball close to the basket. Maten has developed the uncanny ability to take the ball up from the left side as well as he does from the right (his shooting hand). Yante also knocked down 2 of his 3 shots from beyond the arc, one of which came from the right wing. Normally, Maten has only taken three’s when he’s been lined up dead-on from center court; if Yante can start making three’s from other places on the perimeter, he is going to be a tough player for NBADraft.net to continue to ignore.
But enough about Maten. Once Charleston Southern realized that not helping defensively in the paint on Yante was a bad idea, they began to converge on him in the paint, which opened up Georgia’s perimeter players. The Dawgs had six different players hit shots from beyond the arc, and UGA ended up making 8 of their 19 three-point attempts.
The only other Georgia player to finish in double-figures was J.J. Frazier, who netted 14 points on the afternoon. However, Frazier converted only 4 of his 14 shots, bringing his field goal percentage down to 38% on the year. Even more disappointing was J.J.’s effort from beyond the arc, where he connected on just 2 of his 9 attempts. Frazier did dish out 5 assists, though, and he only gave the ball away once.
Coach Mark Fox’s team overwhelmed the Buccaneers right away with a tenacious man defense. The Dawgs mixed in some zone as well, keeping the Charleston Southern offense off balance and limiting the Bucs to under 35% from the floor through the game’s first twenty minutes. Armel Potter and Christian Keeling, Charleston Southern’s leading scorers, had just 2 and 4 points, respectively, going into the break, allowing Georgia to take a 46-30 advantage into the half.
Keeling led all Bucaneers’ scorers with 19 points, but Potter, who came into Stegeman netting almost 16 a night, ended up with only 9 on Saturday.
The Dawgs defense dominated this game. Charleston Southern entered today’s contest hitting almost 46% of its field goals and over 37% of its three’s. The UGA defenders held the Bucs to just 42% from the floor and under 29% from beyond the arc.
Credit the Dawgs for handling its business on the boards as well, where UGA allowed only 23 Southern rebounds, which was 16 under their season average. Georgia’s effort on the glass permitted the Bucs to get only 8 second-chance points, compared to the Dawgs’ 18.