NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Georgia star Yante Maten looks ready to at least try to return to action, based on the team’s open practice Wednesday afternoon at Bridgestone Arena.
A junior forward, Maten has missed the past four games after spraining his knee 95 seconds into the team’s loss to Kentucky. Head coach Mark Fox and Maten both said after the practice that he’s expected to play on Thursday against Tennessee.
“Barrina any setback, we hope to have him play,” Fox said.
That last part may have seemed posturing for the NCAA selection committee, with the Bulldogs on the bubble. But Maten, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, looked okay during Wednesday’s practice.
Maten was doing everything, though since it was a public viewing it was far from a full-fledged practice. He was wearing a brace on his right knee, but was cutting and moving without any obvious pain.
As of Monday, Maten had not been cleared to practice yet, according to Fox.
When the team went through a half-court offensive drill, Maten wasn’t in the starting five: That was the same starting five as the previous few games, with Derek Ogbeide at center and E’Torrion Wilridge at power forward. (Turtle Jackson at the point guard, J.J. Frazier and Juwan Parker rounding out the lineup.)
But Maten was with the next group that went in.
“When you’re playing well and it’s taken from you, you want to get back to where you were,” Maten said. “You know, not everything in life you can control. You’ve got to do your best to get back to not just where you were, but better than you were.”
Georgia (18-13) plays Tennessee (16-15) on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET. The winner gets top-seeded Kentucky.