MEN’S BASKETBALL: Georgia vs. Winthrop Tonight

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MEN’S BASKETBALL: Georgia vs. Winthrop Tonight

Georgia guard Kenny Gaines (12) lays the ball up during the Bulldogs’ game with the Kansas State Wildcats at the Stegeman Coliseum on Friday, December 4th, 2015 in Athens, Ga. (Photo by Sean Taylor)


Georgia vs. Winthrop 

Tuesday, December 7 at 7:00 p.m.

Stegeman Coliseum (10,523) in Athens, Ga.

TV: SEC Network (Dave Neal, PBP; Joe Dean, Jr., Color)

Radio: Georgia Bulldog Network by IMG (Scott Howard, PBP; Chuck Dowdle, Color; Tony Schiavone, Producer) Flagship: AM 750; Sirius: 83; XM: 190


The Starting Five

• Georgia is 4-1 all-time against Winthrop, including a 3-1 mark at Stegeman Coliseum.

• Georgia rallied from five points down with 24 seconds left to force overtime and defeated Winthrop 92-86 in the most recent matchup on Dec. 27, 2011.

• Yante Maten has posted a career-high scoring output in three of Georgia’s first six games, progressing from 13 to 17 to 21 (against both Seton Hall and Oakland). He also scored 20 points against Kansas State.

• Kenny Gaines is currently 18 points shy of becoming the 46th Georgia Bulldog to score 1,000 career points.

• J.J. Frazier is one 3-pointer and four 3-point attempts from joining UGA’s top-20 career leaders in those statistics.


Bulldogs Host Winthrop In Last Outing Before Final Exams

Georgia hosts Winthrop on Tuesday evening at Stegeman Coliseum in the Bulldogs’ final outing before an 11-day break from competition while Final Exams are administered on the UGA campus.

The contest is the nightcap of a day-night doubleheader for Georgia Basketball. At 11 a.m., the Lady Bulldogs will face Furman.

The development of the Bulldogs, who are 3-3 to date, has been a work in progress. Following the exhibition opener against Armstrong State on Nov. 6, injuries to Juwan Parker (Achilles) and Derek Ogbeide (shoulder) took two key pieces away from what was expected to be Georgia’s regular rotation. Ogbeide finally saw his first action against Kansas State last Friday night.

Despite the losses of Parker and Ogbeide, offensive balance was evident and impressive in the Bulldogs’ first half-dozen outings. Six different players scored in double figures a combined 19 times in those contests.

Kenny Gaines has reached that mark in each game and leads Georgia by averaging 16.5 ppg. He leads the SEC and ranks No. 21 nationally in 3-ponters per game (3.3 3FGs).

Yante Maten has been the story of late, however, and is averaging 15.7 ppg and a team-best 8.0 rpg. The sophomore from Pontiac, Mich., has posted three career-high scoring outputs this season, including back-to-back 21-point outbursts against Seton Hall and Oakland. Maten followed that with a 20-point performance versus Kansas State.

Maten is the first Bulldog since Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to record three-straight 20-point performances. KCP did so against Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Kentucky in the final three-regular season games of his 2013 SEC Player of the Year campaign.

Winthrop arrives in Athens with a 6-1 record overall and 2-0 record in Big South Conference play. The Eagles sport a potent offense. They topped the century mark in back-to-back wins to christen 2015-16 and are averaging 86.1 points per game, which ranks No. 21 nationally.

Keon Johnson, Jimmy Gavin and Xavier Cooks provide Winthrop with a lethal scoring trio and account for 59.7 percent of the Eagles’ offense. Johnson is averaging 18.6 ppg. Gavin, a graduate transfer from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, is contributing 18.4 ppg, while Cooks chips in 14.4 ppg.


Keeping An Eye On…Entering today’s game:

Millennium point watch…

• Kenny Gaines is 11 points shy of becoming Georgia’s Basketball’s 46th 1,000-point scorer


Among UGA’s career Leaders

Charles Mann is…

• 23 points from co-No. 27s Nemanja Djurisic and Jerry Epling

• 9 FT attempts from No. 2 Alec Kessler

• 61 FTs from No. 2 Litterial Green

• 28 assists from No. 10 Donald Hartry

Kenny Gaines is…

• 1 3FGs from No. 9 Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

• 1 3FGAs from No. 10 Sundiata Gaines

J.J. Frazier is…

• 4 3FGs from No. 20 Katu Davis

• 14 3FGAs from No. 20 Katu Davis


Series History With The Wildcats

Georgia leads its all-time series with Winthrop 4-1, including a 3-1 mark in Athens.

The Bulldogs captured the most recent date in dramatic fashion, rallying from five down with less than 30 seconds left in regulation to record a 92-86 overtime win on Dec. 27, 2011.

Andre Jones poured in 33 points to lead Winthrop, including a 3-pointer with 2:23 left that erased an 11-point deficit earlier in the period and gave the Eagles their first lead of the second stanza.

Winthrop led by five points with 24 seconds left before Gerald Robinson scored six of his team-high 22 points to force OT. Following a missed Winthrop free throw with 2.6 seconds left, Robinson’s game-tying layup was goal tended to knot the score at 76-76.

Dustin Ware opened the scoring in the extra session with a 3-pointer and Georgia outscored the Eagles 16-10 during the period. The Bulldogs made only two field goals in overtime but converted on 11-of-15 free throws.


Last  Time Out

Three Bulldogs scored in double figures, but it wasn’t enough as a late baseline jumper from Kansas State topped Georgia, 68-66, Friday night in Stegeman Coliseum.

Yante Maten led the way for the Bulldogs with 20 points, including a career-best eight field goals, and five rebounds. Kenny Gaines added 17 J.J. Frazier finished with 11.

Georgia led by double digits several times in the first half, lastly at 37-26 before two Wesley Iwundu free throws with less than a second remaining cut the margin to 37-28.

State opened the second half with a 7-0 run and outscored Georgia 40-29 in the period.

“It was a disappointing second half for our team,” Mark Fox said. “We had a very poor start to the second half. I thought we had a questionable shot and a couple offensive turnovers. We never could regain a real offensive rhythm in the second half. We couldn’t get a stop and rebound to win the game.”

After Kansas State gained its first lead of the second half at 43-42 with 13:54 left, Frazier sparked a run and scored five points in a row as the Bulldogs reclaimed the lead at 49-47 just 3:02 later.

The remainder of the game went back-and-forth, with six ties and seven lead changes. Freshman Mike Edwards hit the front end of a one-and-one to tie the game up at 66, but Kansas State’s Dean Wade hit a 15-foot baseline jumper that gave the Wildcats a 68-66 lead with 4.1 seconds on the clock. Frazier was able to get one final look, but his long 3-point attempt ended up just short.


A Positive Breakout

Not that the media needs any self affirmation but the folks who predicted Yante Maten would be one of the nation’s “breakout” players this season – including those at CBS, NBC and SI – are probably feeling pretty good about themselves.

Most expected Maten to up his contributions following the departure of seniors frontcourt mates Nemanja Djurisic and Marcus Thornton, and he’s done just that.

A year ago, Maten averaged 5.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 18.2 minutes per game.

Through the first six games this season, Maten has more than tripled his scoring (15.7 ppg), nearly doubled his rebounding (8.0 rpg) and is logging a team-high 31.2 mpg. 

Actually, Maten’s increased production can be traced to late last season. Over Georgia’s last nine contests, Maten has produced both of his career double-doubles, all three of his double-figure rebounding efforts and five of his nine double-digit point productions.

Maten posted three career-high scoring outputs in UGA’s first give games, improving from 13 points to 17 points versus Chattanooga to 21 points in back-to-back outings against Seton Hall and Oakland.

Despite his performance against Oakland last Tuesday, Mark Fox still thinks Maten has greater production ahead.

“I love him, but I’m going to tell him that he probably should have had 25 or 30,” Fox said. “He’s becoming a pretty consistent performer for us. I don’t think he played great, and when you can have 21 and eight and not play great, you really have a bright future.”


UGA’s All-SEC Tandem…

Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann were both named preseason first-team All-SEC in balloting of league coaches, becoming just the second duo of Bulldogs to earn first-team preseason honors since the recognition began prior to the 2004-05 season. Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins were also first-team selections prior to 2010-11.

Mann became Georgia’s first-ever two-time first-team preseason All-SEC selection.


…Has Very Strong Ties

The duo of Georgia natives Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann has played a significant role since they arrived on campus in 2012.

Between them, Gaines and Mann have a combined 203 games played, 145 starts and 5,168 minutes played. 

Much of that has been compiled together.

Gaines, who is from Atlanta, and Mann, a native of Alpharetta, have started together for 64 of Georgia’s 72 contests since the beginning of the 2013-14 season. All told, they have played 1,593 minutes and 16 seconds together at Georgia. 


Ogbeide Makes Official Debut

Freshman Derek Ogbeide (Ohwg-Bay-Day) enjoyed a very impressive unofficial debut as at Georgia.

In the Bulldogs’ Nov. 6 exhibition win over Armstrong State, Ogbeide grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds. He also scored four points and recorded one assist, block and steal in 19 minutes of action.

Ogbeide suffered a right shoulder injury in practice thereafter and missed Georgia’s first five games of the season.

Ogbeide finally made his official premiere with the Bulldogs when he checked at the 17:27 mark of the first half against the Wildcats. He played two minutes in the contest.

“He was just cleared today a little before 2 o’clock,” Mark Fox said. “I just wanted to get him 45 seconds here and there just to get him to relax and so he’d been out there before.”

The day before the Kansas State contest Fox was asked about what Georgia was missing without Ogbeide.

“He would allow us to impose our size and physicality on people” Fox said. “Without him, we are so fearful of the foul trouble. Our depth isn’t what it could be. It’s changed our rotations to a large degree.”


Return of The Mask

J.J. Frazier played the first three-plus games with a protective mask on his face after suffering a slight nasal fracture in practice on Nov. 5, the day before the Bulldogs’ exhibition outing versus Armstrong State.

Frazier warmed up with the mask before the exhibition contest, but the decision ultimately was made to hold him out of action. He then played with the mask for the first three and a half games before discarding it in the second half at Seton Hall.

Last season, Frazier played six games with the mask after suffering a fractured orbital bone and concussion during a Feb. 14 matchup with Auburn. He missed Georgia’s next game and then played the final five regular-season contests and an SEC Tournament date with South Carolina but dispatched the protective gear for the last two games.


More PT for KPG

Kenny Paul Geno entered the 2015-16 season with a career high of 21 minutes played against Missouri late last season.

Through Georgia’s first six games this season, Geno is averaging 25.2 minutes of action per game. The Booneville, Miss., native matched or bettered his previous career-most MP in each of the first five games, including a new career high of 35 MP versus Chattanooga in the opener.

Geno averaged 3.8 minutes as a freshman in 2013-14 but had earned increased playing time during last season’s non-conference schedule. He suffered a broken left wrist in the SEC opener against Arkansas and missed 10 games following surgery. Geno returned to log double-digit minutes in eight of the Bulldogs’ final nine outings of 2014-15 and earned a starting nod for six of the last eight games.

Geno has started every games this season – the season opener at the ‘4’ spot and every matchup since at the ‘3.’ All told, he has now started 12 of Georgia’s last 14 games.


Mann Does It All Against Panthers

It’s not uncommon to hear a comment like “He could play all five positions.”

Against High Point, Charles Mann proved those capabilities were more than a claim as he saw action at all five spots during his 31 minutes of PT.

Mann played everything from point guard to post against the Panthers. Perhaps most impressive was his defensive effort in several matchups with John Brown, the nation’s No. 4 active scorer.


Gaines Earns SEC Honor

Kenny Gaines was tabbed as the SEC’s Co-Player of the Week on Monday, Nov. 23, three days after his career-high 35-point outburst against Murray State.

Gaines shared the weekly honor with Kentucky’s Tyler Ulis.

Gaines accounted for 55.6 percent of UGA’s points in the 63-52 win, including 64.7 percent in the second half (22 of 34). He also equaled the No. 15 single-game scoring output by a Bulldog, as well as tying marks for  No. 6 3-pointers made (7) and No. 5 3-pointers attempted (14).


More On Kenny Against The Racers

Kenny Gaines’ performance against Murray State on Nov. 20 represented just the eighth time one Bulldog has scored half of Georgia’s points going as far back as complete records for UGA Basketball exist (beginning with the 1960-61 season) .

Frazier Scores, Dishes Versus UTC

J.J. Frazier dished out a career-best eight assists versus the Chattanooga in the season opener, passes which immediately resulted in 20 points for Georgia. 

Coupled with his 22 points, Frazier had a direct hand in 42 of the Bulldogs’ 90 points on the night.


A Challenging Non-Conference

Georgia’s 2015-16 non-conference slate is challenging and balanced. The Bulldogs’ 11 non-conference opponents averaged 19.3 wins last season and finished 2014-15 with an average NCAA rpi of 115.

“Our goal was a non-conference schedule that would put us in a proper position with the strength of schedule numbers at the end of the year,” Mark Fox said. “You never know what kind of season a team you play will have, but with the numbers from last year I think we’ve been able to establish the strength of schedule we need. It’s a little tougher numbers-wise than it was a year ago. That’s important when you get to the month of March.”

Five of Georgia’s 11 non-conference opponents played into March last season: NCAA participants Baylor and Robert Morris, NIT quarterfinalist Murray State and CIT teams High Point and Oakland. Four of those teams will travel to Athens this season.

Last season’s average rpi of 115 is the best by Georgia’s non-conference foes since the Bulldogs’ 2001-02 non-conference foes recorded an average rpi of 111 during 2000-01.

Nine of 11 the Bulldogs’ non-conference foes ranked No. 153 or better in the final NCAA rpi for the 2014-15 season, and Georgia’s 2015-16 slate includes only one team that finished with an rpi in the 200s. 

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Greg is closing in on 15 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.