He always draws the opposing team’s best interior defender, and when he receives the ball on the block he usually gets double-teamed. When Georgia faces zone, this player constantly gets swarmed by nearby guards, or anyone for that matter, when the ball is sent into him in the paint. This player is Yante Maten, and through all this extra attention he has received on a nightly basis this season, he is still averaging just under 20 points and 8 boards a game. Maten has logged 5 double-doubles this year already, and he’s scored 30 points or more three times. The only game this season in which Maten did not eclipse the double-digit mark was against Oakland, and that was because he fouled out and played just 21 minutes.
Georgia’s lack of an outside game makes Yante’s stats this year even that more impressive. Defenses would be more hesitant to throw the kitchen sink at Maten whenever he gets the ball inside if there was even the slightest threat that he had some legitimate three-point options to kick the ball back out to on the perimeter. But alas, that is not the case for this UGA team, who is currently shooting 31.6% from beyond the arc, which ranks that an ugly 310th in the nation in three-point percentage. UGA is barely making more than 5 three-pointers a game, which is 330th in the country. Other than Jordan Harris, who’s hitting 42% of his perimeter shots, Georgia has only one other player connecting on over 35% from beyond the arc and that’s Maten (only counting players with more than 30 attempts)! That’s right, Yante is the best outside shooter on UGA this season as well, making nearly 49% of his three-point shots. If only Maten could kick it back out to himself when he faces those pesky double-teams in the paint.
Tomorrow afternoon the Dawgs will host a Texas Longhorn team that is just 8-12 overall, but they did recently snap a five-game losing streak with a buzzer beater win over Oklahoma. It should also be noted that their previous three losses came in competitive games with highly ranked Kansas, Baylor and West Virginia. Texas gets after it defensively, holding opponents to under 42% from the floor. The Longhorns have a big frontcourt that is getting 4.9 blocks per game, which is good enough for 50th in the country in that category. Texas’s 6’11” starter Jarrett Allen and 6’10” reserve James Banks have a combined 60 blocks between them. Surely Yante Maten will become quickly acquainted with both of these gentlemen shortly after 4pm Saturday.
Maten is going to once again have a lot to deal with in the paint tomorrow. Coach Shaka Smart has a plan on how to neutralize him. However, based on what I’ve seen from Maten so far this season, I don’t think it’s going to work.