ATHENS — Yante Maten still has life in his Georgia career. So does Mark Fox. Their Georgia men’s basketball team, assumed done for a week ago, is trying to work its way back into the thick of things.
Georgia got its second straight win, and its third this year over a ranked team, this time 73-62 over No. 18 Tennessee on Saturday night at Stegeman Coliseum.
The Bulldogs (15-11 overall, 6-8 in the SEC) now head to the final two weeks of the regular season with their fleeting postseason hopes still alive. They appeared done this time last week, but bounced back first with an upset overtime win at Florida, and then another NCAA Tournament resume’ win on Saturday.
Tennessee entered ranked No. 12 in the RPI, giving Georgia its best win of the season to this point.
Maten did his usual part. But, as the case with Georgia’s other big wins this year, he had help from key players. And the biggest two were from bench players.
Derek Ogbeide had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds, making a number of putbacks and grabbing numerous key rebounds, both offensive and defense.
Tyree Crump hit two key 3s down the stretch. He also grabbed the rebound in the final minute that basically sealed the win, and sent the appreciative home crowd to its feet.
3 who mattered
Maten. The senior forward also moved to sixth on Georgia’s all-time list for field goals, passing Alec Kessler.
Ogbeide: The junior forward, coming off the bench again, had a great game underneath. Ogbeide was responsible for a number of putbacks, saving several key possessions for the Bulldogs. And his three-point play stemmed a Tennessee run with just over 5 minutes left.
Crump: The sophomore guard also came off the bench and played extensive minutes, especially down the stretch. He hit two keys 3s, one to make it 57-51 and the next to give UGA a 62-54 lead with just under 2 minutes left.
Georgia, after leading since early in the game, was on the verge of losing the lead with about 6 minutes left. Tennessee missed several shots and committed a turnover. On the other end, Ogbeide made a layup while being fouled, and finished with the free throw. Then Crump buried a 3, and Ogbeide added a putback to make it 59-51. Tennessee didn’t ever get back within one possession.
Lineup: Georgia used the same starting lineup — with two freshman forwards — for the third straight game. It was the third straight start for Rayshaun Hammonds, and the fourth straight for Nicolas Claxton. But Ogbeide and Crump, who have started this season, have continued to star off the bench.
Free throws: Georgia benefitted from an enormous free throw disparity: 38 to just 15 for Tennessee. The Volunteers’ leading scorer entering the game, forward Grant Williams, had foul trouble in the second half and fouled out with just under 2 minutes left.
Only Maten at the start. Maten scored 11 of Georgia’s first 13 points, and it took more than 10 minutes (the 9:41 mark) for someone else to score. But when others got going, so did Georgia, which pulled out to a 19-11 lead. At that point he picked up his second foul and came out.
Surviving (barely) without Maten. After’s Maten’s exit, Tennessee almost immediately hit two straight 3s to make it 21-18. Maten re-enetered at 2:15, then left after a couple possessions. He stayed out until halftime, when Tennessee whittled it down to 28-26. But Maten stayed out of foul trouble in the second half.
It was Georgia’s third win this season over a team that was ranked at the time: The Bulldogs also knocked off then-No. 21 St. Mary’s and then No. 23 Florida, which was unranked when UGA beat the Gators a second time on Wednesday.
Georgia plays at South Carolina on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. ET. The Bulldogs lost at home to the Gamecocks in January, 64-57.