The Georgia Bulldogs will unofficially christen their 2017-18 season with a bang on Sunday afternoon. The Bulldogs will venture to Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to face No. 2 Michigan State in an exhibition benefitting relief efforts from Hurricane Irma.
The contest became official just six days ago (on Monday, Oct. 23) when the NCAA approved a waiver allowing the schools to face off to raise charitable funds. While MSU is hosting the contest, the schools will split the proceeds equally. UGA will donate to the American Red Cross of Georgia, and Michigan State will contribute to the Red Cross – International Services.
Georgia Basketball Game Notes
Georgia vs. Michigan State
Exhibition to benefit the Red Cross
Sunday, October 29, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. ET
Van Andel Arena (10,800) in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Live Audio via Spartan Sports Network, http://www.spartansportsnetwork.com/
The Bulldogs return four starting spots and nine of their top-10 scorers from last season when Georgia posted a 19-15 record and reached postseason play for the fourth-consecutive year.
Headlining the roster is senior forward Yante Maten, who this preseason has been tabbed SEC Player of the Year and All-America by multiple organizations. Maten, a native of Pontiac, Mich., averaged 18.2 points a season ago, making the leading returning scorer in the SEC. He also is the league’s active career leader in points (1,250), rebounds (606) and blocked shots (149).
Juwan Parker and Derek Ogbeide also started virtually every game for the Bulldogs last season. Parker, a fifth-year senior, is the only active Division I men’s basketball player who has already earned a master’s degree (Sport Management). Ogbeide emerged as one of the SEC’s most dominant rebounders in 2016-17, averaging 7.6 rpg overall and improving that tally to 8.3 rpg in league games.
Michigan State has been a consensus top-5 preseason pick this fall. The Spartans are No. 2 in the first edition of the USA Today coaches poll, of which Georgia coach Mark Fox is a contributing voter. State also returns four starters from a year ago when the Spartans posted a final mark of 20-15 and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Sophomore forwards Miles Bridges and Nick Ward finished 1-2 on the team in both scoring and rebounding last season. Bridges, a prominent preseason National Player of the Year contender, contributed 16.9 ppg and 8.3 rpg. Ward chipped in 13.9 ppg and 6.5 rpg.
Series History With The Spartans
Michigan State won the only previous meeting between the Bulldogs and Spartans, a 70-63 decision in the opening round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament in Charlotte.
Branden Dawson scored all 14 of his points in the second half as State turned back two serious challenges by Georgia in the first win in what eventually became a Final Four run.
After trailing 35-22 at the half, a driving layup by Charles Mann with 14:07 left capped a 10-0 Georgia run and cut the margin to a single basket at 39-37. The Bulldogs were unable to get closer, and State expanded its advantage back to 13.
Kenny Gaines converted a 3-point play with just 21 seconds left, getting Georgia within 66-63; however, Denzel Valentine sealed the win by converting four free throws over the closing seconds, thwarting yet another Bulldog rally.
Keeping an eye on…entering the 2017-18 season:
Among UGA’s career Leaders
Yante Maten is…
• 3 points from No. 24 Lavon Mercer
• 9 points from No. 23 Bob Healey
• 11 points from No. 22 Eric Marbury
• 24 points from No. 21 Charles Claxton
• 74 points from No. 20 Kenny Gaines
• 17 rebounds from No. 15 Ray Jeffords
• 1 FT from No. 9 Terry Fair
• 8 FTs from No. 8 Bob Lienhard
• 11 FTs from No. 7 Sundiata Gaines
• 2 FTAs from No. 13 James Banks
• 33 FTAs from No. 12 Terry Fair
• 19 blocks from No. 3 Terrell Bell
A Homecoming For Two Bulldogs
Sunday’s game is a homecoming for UGA’s Yante Maten and Mike Edwards.
Maten was the 2014 Gatorade Player of the Year at Bloomfield Hills High School. He averaged 19.8 ppg and 15.2 rpg in leading the Black Hawks to a runner-up finish in the Michigan A state tournament in the school’s first year of existence. BHHS was formed by the merger of Lahser High, which Maten attended for three years, with Andover High.
Edwards was named captain of the Detroit Free Press’ Class A All-State team in 2015 after averaging 18.8 ppg and 10.3 rpg as a senior at John Glenn High School.
Strong Ties To The Spartans
Yante Maten and Mike Edwards aren’t just Michigan natives, they both have strong family ties to Michigan State.
Maten’s mother, Toiya, is a Michigan State alum, as are both of Edwards’ parents, Michael Edwards and Jill Edwards. Edwards’ dad was a defensive end for MSU from 1990-92 and tied for team-high sack honors in 1992 (3.0 for -18 yds.).
In addition, Matt Bucklin, Georgia’s operations coordinator, is the nephew of Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo. As a matter of fact, Mark Fox jokingly gave Bucklin’s mother, Mary, credit for getting the exhibition between and UGA and MSU done.
“We knew if we were going to do this we would have to play on the road,” Fox said on Wednesday. “But if we were going to play on the road, we wanted to make sure it would be a game that would really challenge us and give us a great measuring stick. Coach Izzo’s nephew is on our staff and Coach Izzo’s sister probably deserves the most credit for putting this together.”
Ratin’ Maten A Popular Task
Preseason recognition has been consistent and plentiful for Yante Maten. Most recently, he was listed as the No. 24 player in the nation by NBCsports.com.
Maten was tabbed the preseason SEC Player of the Year by the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook and a panel of SEC and national media. The media poll named Maten, Texas A&M’s Robert Williams and Missouri’s Michael Porter, Jr. as co-players of the year.
He received All-America accolades from the Blue Ribbon Yearbook (third team), www.collegesportsmadness.com (fourth team) and NBCsports.com (honorable mention).
Bulldogs Are HomeGrown
More than half of Georgia’s roster (eight of 15 to be exact) played high school hoops in the Peach State – juniors Christian Harrison (Woodward Academy), “Turtle” Jackson (Athens Christian), Connor O’Neill (Blessed Trinity) and Derek Ogbeide (Pebblebrook HS); sophomores Tyree Crump (Bainbridge HS) and Jordan Harris (Seminole County HS); and freshmen Rayshaun Hammonds (Norcross HS) and Teshaun Hightower (Collins Hills HS).
SEC Looks To Continue Upswing
SEC Basketball enters the 2017-18 season attempting to continue its upwardly trending national perception established during an impressive postseason run last March.
Most notably, the SEC received the fifth-most bids of any conference but then proceeded to tie the ACC (which had nine NCAA participants) for the most NCAA Tournament victories with 11.
Three league schools reached the “Elite Eight,” including an All-SEC East Regional final between South Carolina and Florida.
For the complete Georgia-Michgian State men’s basketball game notes, CLICK HERE