Han Vance on Georgia basketball: The senior-less Mississippi State Bulldogs were well aware that our stellar senior Yante Maten is the single best basketball player in the SEC, and they harassed him with consistent double teams on the road in the Magnolia state early Saturday evening. He struggled mightily. Michigander Maten came to UGA to study snakes as a Fisheries and Wildlife major, recently kicked a longer-than-40 yard field goal on an Athens football field and he longboards (a more casual type of lengthy skate board – I have one) around campus at UGA. Clearly an interesting cat, but this was Dogs-on-Dawg.
Georgia fell to 55-54 all-time versus “Hail State”, visiting The Hump with a remarkable six straight wins over the Maroon Pups overall. They, not our more-experienced Hoop Hounds played like the stronger team, as they suddenly joined the deepening ranks of SEC programs seeking the NCAA tournament. Another SEC road win would have ensured positive momentum for a Georgia team coming off the biggest win of the season over Florida. Instead, Georgia’s only real quality win away from Stegeman remains a neutral site win over (#13) St. Mary’s, in California. This is perhaps the deepest, and maybe even best, SEC in history, though to-date there are no marquee teams other than undersized and under federal scrutiny Auburn. While Miss State is an upper-tier SEC program, they haven’t had an exceptional season. Veteran coach Ben Howland was 0-3 against Georgia before this State stand.
Pape Diatta (pronounced “Pop”), a Sengalese transfer from Southern Idaho we saw way more of in 2017, had a dozen on four huge three pointers, and Tyree Crump (pictured Saturday in my ‘Houndspeak’ piece) got the start as Coach Fox elected to go small. While the guy some say is Georgia basketball’s best pure athlete, guard Jordan Harris, who regularly started last year before injury, is now suspended indefinitely and may miss the rest of the season. Young Clax had another all-around good game, as the 6-11 talent looks to pair with Maten down low.
But composed guard play is what matters most late in games, and free-floating freshman Nick Weatherspoon of State was the best guard on the court, playing off his older brother Quinndary and a better than solid Lamar Peters. The home team advanced to .500 in league play, while Georgia can’t even claim a successful week now. Panic button: we have only won 2-of-8 contests and have one road win. Next game is at Vandy, as our mid-week league schedule shifts from Tuesday night games to Wednesday night games throughout February. We need a win.
Starters Turtle Jackson, Juwan Parker and Yante Maten had no field goals at the half here. Unacceptable, to say the least, for a team trying to break out of a continuing slump with back-to-back wins. One game at a time, guys, you have to come out much better prepared on the road in the SEC. Suddenly, a tenacious basketball league full of pratfalls everywhere.
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