ATHENS — Mark Fox tweaked his lineup yet again, but this time he also shortened his bench. And, related or not, the result is the Georgia men’s basketball team is still clinging to life as the final week of the regular season arrives.
Georgia routed visiting LSU on Saturday, 93-82, leading by as many as 22 points and staying comfortably ahead the entire second half. The Bulldogs (16-12 overall, 7-9 SEC) thus won for the third time in four games, and achieved a season sweep over LSU (also 16-12 and 7-9).
It was the most points scored this season for Georgia, which hadn’t even hit the 80-point mark during SEC play before Saturday.
Fox used just eight players all game, after using 12 players in the first half alone in the loss Wednesday at South Carolina. Less was better: Star forward Yante Maten once again led the way, but three other players reached double figures, including freshman forward Rayshaun Hammonds, who had been struggling.
“It developed quite a rhythm, the fact there was a longer stretch where guys played at the same time, that definitely helped in a lot of ways,” junior forward Derek Ogbeide said. “Knowing who my post partner is, who I have on the court, who I have to switch with, so it was a definitely key for us.”
Starting late in the first half, Georgia went on a 27-6 run, including a halftime buzzer-beating tip-back by Ogbeide, and an 11-0 run to start the second half. It was never close after that.
4 who mattered
Maten: He finished with a game-high 27 points and 11 rebounds. In the first half alone, Maten had 13 points, 5 blocks, 5 rebounds and Georgia was plus-14 with him on the floor.
Hammonds: The freshman forward, who has had a quiet freshman year, had a career-high 21 points, along with 8 rebounds.
Derek Ogbeide: The junior center had a double-double, with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Teshaun Hightower: The freshman point guard made his first start in almost a month and played well passing and shooting. He had a 3-pointer during the team’s run to start the second half.
The game was tied at 28 with 5:44 left in the first half, and Georgia was 1-for-13 from beyond the arc. At that point the Bulldogs basically stopped shooting 3s and went inside, and not only took the lead but pulled away: A dunk by Maten, off a nice drive-and-feed from Hightower, made it 36-29.
Trying everything. Georgia has used eight different starting lineups this year: Maten and Turtle Jackson are the only two to start every game, while seven others have started at least twice. Georgia only tried two different starting lineups through the first 16 games. Since then, Fox has used seven different lineups.
Dominating the glass. One reason the poor 3-point shooting didn’t doom the Bulldogs: They got many of the offensive rebounds. They had 12 offensive rebounds in the first half alone. Georgia outrebounded LSU 33-23.
Georgia entered the day ranked 70th in the RPI. LSU was 75th, which would qualify as a Quadrant 2 win for Georgia under the NCAA’s revised formula, if LSU finishes in the top 75. Georgia’s win at LSU in January counts as a Quadrant 1 win if LSU stays in the top 75. According to UGA, it was one of only 13 teams in the nation with six or more Quadrant 1 wins as of Friday.
Georgia hosts Texas A&M Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET in the Bulldogs’ home finale.
What they said
“They imposed their will on the backboard. They imposed their will in the paint. That’s really all there was to it.” — LSU coach Will Wade
“Just not rushing. Letting the game come to me like I always do. Even when the game’s not in my hands, let it come to me.” — Hammonds on what helped him have a better game.
“The lineup that we had, it was definitely a way to maintain things. Even when the pressure got hot, when things kind of started getting tough, we still remembered and were able to click back on the court.” — Ogbeide