The Georgia men’s basketball team ended non-conference play on a high note Tuesday.
The Bulldogs defeated Robert Morris, 79-67, at Stegeman Coliseum. Georgia (7-3) now owns a four-game winning streak heading into its conference schedule.
“I thought we showed some rust from the holidays quite frankly, but it’s good to get a win.” Georgia coach Mark Fox said after the game. “Before the break we were playing great, but a couple days off isn’t too bad for them (the players) physically.”
After an early 6-6 tie, Georgia used a 10-0 run and built an 11-point lead going into halftime. Robert Morris (2-11) cut the lead to five early in the second half, but Georgia’s stifling defense was too much for the Colonials to overcome.
“They (Robert Morris) played probably about as well as they’ve played all year,” Fox said. “What I like about our team is we’re finding ways to win right now. If we keep the right mentality then we will get better and hopefully win our share of SEC games.”
The Bulldogs begin SEC play with a road matchup versus Florida on Jan. 2.
Here are key players and five observations from the game:
Three key players
Georgia forward Yante Maten: Georgia’s leading scorer and rebounder continued his domination in non-conference play. He controlled the paint with 20 points and seven rebounds.
Georgia forward Kenny Paul Geno: Geno only scored six points, but his defense helped keep Robert Morris from cutting into the Georgia lead. Geno had two rim-rattling dunks in the second half that sparked the home crowd. He rounded out his stat line with two rebounds and a team-high seven assists.
Robert Morris guard Rodney Pryor: The Colonials leading scorer struggled with his shot (8-of-20), but his 22 points and eight rebounds prevented this game from getting way out of hand.
1. Maten continues strong start
Maten continues to blossom in his sophomore season. Once again, he was able to assert his will against an undermatched Robert Morris team.
Maten and junior guard J.J. Frazier led the team in scoring, but Fox thinks both need to improve as the team embarks on its conference slate.
“I thought both of them (Maten and Frazier) played very poorly to be honest with you,” Fox said. “They did not play well on the defensive end. They’re going to have to be much better as we start SEC play.
2. Georgia controls the paint
With the help of Maten, the Bulldogs outscored the Colonials, 46-24, in the paint. The Bulldogs were able to break down the Colonials’ zone defense and convert easy opportunities inside.
Georgia’s perimeter defense kept Robert Morris from getting easy baskets, as the Colonials finished the game shooting 37.9 percent from the field.
3. Bulldogs shut down the 3-point line
Robert Morris hoisted 24 3-pointers, but made just three of them. Meanwhile Georgia converted 6-of-15 3-point attempts.
Robert Morris needed to make 3s to have a chance and Georgia did a good job contesting those shots.
4. Freshman step up
Georgia freshman forwards Derek Ogbeide and Mike Edwards, along with freshman guard Will “Turtle” Jackson were integral in Georgia’s 10-0 run to get an early lead in the first half. Jackson hit a 3-pointer during the run, while Edwards and Ogbeide both converted layups.
Jackson also added two blocks and two steals, while Ogbeide scored four points and tied with Maten for a team-leading seven boards.
5. Georgia shares the ball
The Bulldogs assisted on 74.2 percent of their 31 made baskets.
Georgia won the assist battle, 23-8. Geno’s seven assists led the team, but senior guard Kenny Gaines and Frazier also chipped in four assists. Frazier added 17 points, including four 3-pointers, the last of which came from just inside the Georgia logo at halfcourt.