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Who will Georgia look to in Yante Maten’s absence?

Cy Brown

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Who will pick up the slack without Yante Maten?

Thursday night, Georgia hits the court for the first time without Yante Maten since he went down with a knee sprain in the the loss at Kentucky last Saturday. The Bulldogs travel to Tuscaloosa to face Alabama, and there’s one question on the mind of every UGA hoops fan: Who will pick up the slack in Maten’s absence?

Maten does a lot for the Bulldogs in all facets of the game, but the most obvious thing that will be missed is his scoring. He’s the leading  scorer on the team and the third-best scorer in the SEC, averaging 18.7 points per game and shooting 53 percent from the field. J.J. Frazier, who averages 17.3 ppg, can, and will, pitch in more than average, but Georgia needs someone else to step up as well.

And this isn’t a new problem. One of Georgia’s biggest problems this season has been the lack of a third option behind Maten and Frazier. That’s only going to become more pressing, considering Frazier is a senior and the Dawgs will lose his scoring after this season. With Georgia forced to stop relying on Maten for the rest of the season, Mark Fox can begin the process of finding a No. 2 scorer for next season. Here are a few guys who should see their production shoot up without Maten in front of them for the final four games of the regular season:

Mike Edwards — Edwards is the most like-for-like replacement to Maten, and it was he who was looked to after Georgia’s star man went down against Kentucky. Edwards responded with 10 points and an unbelievable yam in the second half. He should get the starting nod in Maten’s stead and boost his 4.3 ppg in the process. His dunking ability alone makes me want to see him in the mix more.

Derek Ogbeide — Ogbeide has held down the post with Maten all season, but his job is going to get a lot tougher without Maten soaking up a lot of attention on the block. He hit his season high of 18 points against Kentucky at home but hasn’t reached double-digits again. It’s safe to say Georgia will need him to be in or around double figures in each of the next four games to have a good shot at winning.

Juwan Parker — Parker is UGA’s third-leading scorer this season at 9.6 ppg, but he could be doing so much more, and will get his chance to the rest of the way. First things first, Parker needs the Josh Smith Rule enforced on him: No 3-pointers EVER. He’s shooting only 17 percent from 3 on nearly 50 attempts. Second, keep driving to the hoop. Parker is a fantastic free throw shooter, shooting 87 percent from behind the stripe. The more he can get to the line, the better things will be be for himself and Georgia.

Tick-tock

In the least surprising college football development in quite a while, the NCAA appears close to bringing the hammer down on Ole Miss. The school released a 20-minute video on the nine recruiting violations it’s been charged with, including the big one, lack of institutional control. The school has self-imposed a one-year postseason ban, but it’s possible the NCAA could add more punishments.

Tray Scott jumping ship after only a few weeks in Oxford makes a lot more sense now.

Replacing McKenzie

Seth Emerson had a good post Wednesday on who Georgia will look to to replace Isaiah McKenzie in the return game. All signs point toward Mecole Hardman getting the nod, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Terry Godwin or one of the talented freshman skill players have a go.

Over at Get The Picture, Senator Blutarsky noted how mediocre and inconsistent Georgia has been in the return game over the last four seasons, even with a fantastic return man like McKenzie fielding kicks. So, it’s fairly obvious Georgia needs to replace McKenzie and get better at blocking on returns to have special teams that can really hum.

Even with McKenzie, Georgia’s return teams have been substandard for years. Here’s how they’ve ranked in conference play for the last four seasons:

KICKOFF RETURNS

  • 2016:  9th
  • 2015:  12th
  • 2014:  7th
  • 2013:  14th

PUNT RETURNS

  • 2016:  6th
  • 2015:  5th
  • 2014:  5th
  • 2013:  14th

ICYMI

Good dog

Lennu, the First Dog of Finland, is a very good dog.