Georgia (4-3) was without leading scorer Kenny Gaines on Tuesday, but a balanced scoring effort and a strong defensive performance was enough to defeat Winthrop, 74-64, at Stegeman Coliseum. Winthrop made a late run to cut into a 17-point Georgia lead, but the Bulldogs made their free throws to secure the victory.
“I thought our defense was really good so we played from in front,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said after the game. “I thought it was a good opportunity to let those guys push through adversity.”
Here are five observations from the game:
1. Georgia survives without Kenny Gaines
Gaines sat out out with a sore knee, so Georgia had to compensate for his 16.5 points per game. A balanced scoring effort helped the Bulldogs emerge victorious, as 10 players scored in the win. Yante Maten, J.J. Frazier (who started for Gaines) and Charles Mann all reached double-digits.
Frazier’s shooting percentage has declined so far this season, but he executed the offense well against Winthrop. He finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
“He’s a high IQ player,” Fox said of Frazier. “Tonight he did a good job running our team, making his free throws and rebounding the ball.”
On most nights Georgia will struggle score without Gaines, but it was able to do enough to fend off the Eagles Tuesday evening.
2. Yante Maten dominates inside
Winthrop had few answers for Maten in the paint, as he picked up his third double-double of the season. The sophomore had 24 points and 12 rebounds, while shooting 10-of-16 from the field. Winthrop’s interior players will probably have nightmares about Maten’s jump hooks, which were on display the entire game.
“I’m probably going to tell him (Maten) he should have had 30,” Fox said. “He’s a much better player than he was a year ago and he has really spent the offseason investing in himself.”
Maten has emerged as Georgia’s most reliable post player this season, and he will need to keep it up for the Bulldogs to have success.
“The next step is going to be everyone will come into the game trying to stop him (Maten),” Fox said. “He’ll have to be ready for that level of defense.”
3. Defense steps up
Winthrop came into the game averaging 86.2 points per contest, but the Bulldogs stifled the Eagles Tuesday night. Winthrop shot just 35 percent from the field, including 34.8 percent from beyond the 3-point line.
Georgia’s game plan was to run Winthrop off the 3-point line and force contested 2-point shots. It worked, as Winthrop could not get into the paint for easy shots.
4. Free throws make the difference
The Bulldogs entered the game shooting 69.2 percent from the charity stripe, but they were great Tuesday night. Georgia was 29-of-36 (80.6 percent) from the free throw line, including a perfect 16-of-16 to begin the second half.
The Bulldogs were able to consistently get in the paint thanks to Frazier and Mann. Their penetration broke down the Winthrop defense and led to easy opportunities from the line.
5. Winthrop’s Georgia product keeps it close
Winthrop guard Roderick Perkins kept Winthrop in the game in the second half after catching fire from 3-point range.
The Smyrna, Ga. product finished with 14 points and was a key cog in a Winthrop run that cut Georgia’s 17-point lead to single digits. Without Perkins, Georgia may have won the game comfortably.
Up next for the Bulldogs is a rivalry matchup with Georgia Tech on Dec. 19.