ATHENS — Georgia’s best player, Yante Maten, had to leave its big game against No. 13 Kentucky just after it started.
Maten injured his right knee just 95 seconds into Saturday’s game, after he collided with a Kentucky player under the basket. The severity of the injury was not immediately known, but he did not return to the game. He did return to the bench, standing and sitting back down on his own as he cheered on his teammates.
Maten leads Georgia in points (19.4 per game) and rebounds (7.4), and is among the SEC leaders in those categories. Despite his absence, Georgia managed to stay in the game, briefly taking a lead in the second half.
When he got hurt, Maten stayed down for about a minute, then tried to leave on his own power, ending up limping off with the help of a trainer. Maten returned to the bench at the 12:10 mark, his right knee wrapped and limping noticeably, though he was able to stand on his own during a timeout. After the timeout, head coach Mark Fox said something in Maten’s ear for a few seconds, then returned to coaching the team.
Georgia jumped out to a 6-2 lead, with all of its points scored by point guard J.J. Frazier. Maten left when it was 4-2. Kentucky moved ahead, 13-8, a few minutes later, but Georgia eventually rallied back to tie it, despite the absence of Maten. Kentucky led 33-31 at halftime.
Maten did not warm up with the rest of his team at halftime, though he did stand under the basket and field rebounds, walking gingerly on his own power.