MEN’S BASKETBALL: Georgia vs. Georgia Tech – High Noon at the Steg

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MEN’S BASKETBALL: Georgia vs. Georgia Tech – High Noon at the Steg

Georgia’s Charles Mann (4) looks to pass the ball during an exhibition basketball game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Armstrong State Pirates on Friday, November 6, 2015 at the Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga. (Photo by Sean Taylor)


Georgia vs. Georgia Tech

Saturday, December 19 at 12:00 p.m.

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

TV: SEC Network (Richard Cross, PBP; Andrew DeClercq, 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 Tech leads the all-time series 105-86, but Georgia owns a 51-31 edge in Athens with a 25-6 mark at Stegeman Coliseum.

• Georgia’s strength of schedule this season is ranked No. 3 in the nation in the NCAA RPI. The Bulldogs are No. 51 in the most recent edition of the RPI through games of Dec. 15.

• Yante Maten (right) has posted career-high scoring outputs in four of Georgia’s first seven games, progressing from 13 to 17 to 21 (twice) to 24 versus Winthrop.

• Kenny Gaines is currently 11 points shy of becoming the 46th Georgia Bulldog to score 1,000 career points.

• Charles Mann, who began the season at No. 36 among UGA’s career scoring leaders, is nine points from co-No. 27s Nemanja Djurisic and Jerry Epling.


Bulldogs Return To Action To Host Intrastate Rival Georgia Tech

Georgia returns to action for the first time in 11 days Saturday afternoon when the Bulldogs host intrastate rival Georgia Tech at Stegeman Coliseum in a noon matinée.

Georgia improved to 4-3 with a 74-64 win over Winthrop on Dec. 8 before embarking on a dead period from competition while UGA’s Final Exams were administered.

Yante Maten inched past Kenny Gaines atop the Bulldogs’ scoring leaders with a career-high 24-point outburst against Winthrop. That represented the fourth time in seven games this season that Maten posted a career-best scoring effort.

Maten currently sports a 16.9 ppg scoring average, slightly better than Gaines’ 16.5 ppg. J.J. Frazier and Charles Mann are chipping in points at a double-digit clip as well, averaging 13.3 ppg and 10.3 ppg, respectively.


Georgia Tech improved to 7-2 on Tuesday evening with a 77-64 win over VCU in Atlanta.

Seniors Marcus Georges-Hunt and Charles Mitchell lead the Jackets. Georges-Hunt is averaging 15.2 ppg, while Mitchell is contributing an impressive double-double of 14.2 ppg and 12.8 rpg. Like Georgia, Tech sports four double-digit scorers, with Adam Smith was adding 11.8 ppg and Nick Jacobs posting 10.2 ppg.


Keeping An Eye On…Entering Today’s Game:


Millennium point watch…

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


Among UGA’s career Leaders


Charles Mann is…

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

• 17 points from No. 26 G.G. Smith

• 23 FTAs from No. 1 Litterial Green

• 52 FTs from No. 2 Litterial Green

• 26 assists from No. 10 Donald Hartry


Kenny Gaines is…

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

• 1 3FGA from No. 10 Sundiata Gaines


J.J. Frazier is…

• 2 3FGs from No. 20 Katu Davis

• 8 3FGAs from No. 20 Katu Davis


Series History With The Jackets

Georgia Tech sports a 105-86 lead in the all-time series between the Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets; however, Georgia owns a healthy 51-31 advantage in games contested in Athens. UGA is an even more impressive 25-6 against Georgia Tech here at Stegeman Coliseum.

Last season, Georgia Tech sank six free throws in the final minute to secure an 80-73 win over Georgia in the season opener for both teams.

The Bulldogs pulled within three points on a J.J. Frazier layup with 34 seconds left but couldn’t complete the comeback.

Georgia had three players in double figures, led by Nemi Djurisic with 18, while Marcus Thornton added 12 and Kenny Gaines scored 11. Quinton Stephens paced Tech with 22 points, and Charles Mitchell had 20.

After trailing by 10 points at the intermission, a  Thornton jumper cut the deficit to 50-46 five minutes into the second half. Georgia couldn’t get closer until Frazier’s layup with less than a minute to go.


In the most recent meeting in Athens on Nov. 15, 2013, Charles Mann scored what was then a career-high 24 points, but it wasn’t enough as Georgia fell 80-71.

After Georgia Tech grabbed a 27-22 lead, Georgia fought back with an 11-3 run to go up 33-30 with four minutes to play in the first half. The Yellow Jackets responded with a 13-5 surge to end the period and take a 43-38 advantage into the intermission.

In the first three minutes of the second half, Tech used a pair of 3-pointers to take a 55-40 lead. The Jackets maintained a double-figure edge most of the rest of the way.

Daniel Miller led Georgia Tech with 14 points and 13 boards.


Last  Time Out

Georgia picked up a 74-64 win against Winthrop on Dec. 8 at Stegeman Coliseum behind a career night from forward Yante Maten.

Maten finished the evening with a career-high 24 points and a game-high 12 rebounds en route to his second double-double of the year. J.J. Frazier and Charles Mann rounded out other Bulldogs scoring in double figures with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Frazier added 10 rebounds and five assists for the first double-double of his career.

“That was a good team that we played,” Mark Fox said. “They’re coming in after a great start to their season. They are a very good offensive team, and I was pleased with our defense. Late in the game I was pleased with our rebounding. I wasn’t thrilled with our rebounding for the first 30 minutes, but we were better at the end of the game. Our defensive rebounding was the big difference. Offensively, we’re growing so we have some room to improve there.”

The Bulldogs held a double-digit lead for the majority of the first half, until Winthrop cut the margin to eight right before the break at 33-25. Georgia was led in the first 20-minutes by Maten, who hit double figures in scoring just 11 minutes into the contest.

The Eagles heated up in the second-half closing the gap to, 54-48, with just under nine minutes to go. Georgia clamped down the defensive end late in the second half to secure the victory.

The Bulldogs played without their leading scorer Kenny Gaines, who was held out of action with a knee injury that left his status as “day-to-day.”


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. He’s done more than just that.

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

Through the first seven games this season, Maten has more than tripled his scoring (16.9 ppg), doubled his rebounding (8.6 rpg) and is logging a team-high 31.3 mpg.

Actually, Maten’s increased production can be traced to late last season. Over Georgia’s last 10 contests, Maten has produced all three of his career double-doubles, all four of his double-figure rebounding efforts and six of his 10 double-digit point productions.

Maten has posted four career-high scoring outputs in UGA’s first seven games, improving from 13 points entering the season to 17 points versus Chattanooga to 21 points in back-to-back outings against Seton Hall and Oakland and 24 versus Winthrop.


Bulldogs Facing Solid Schedule

According to the most recent edition of the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) from the NCAA (through games of Dec. 15), Georgia has faced the third-toughest schedule in the nation to date during 2015-16.

Georgia was listed in the No. 51 spot in the RPI itself.

The average RPI of the Bulldogs’ first seven opponents is 101, which is the 11th-highest in the nation. That mark will only improve after Georgia faces Georgia Tech (RPI 57).

The Bulldogs are one of only two teams in the top-60 of the RPI who are yet to face a team with an RPI in the 200s, Vanderbilt being the other.


Gaines Nearing Millennium Mark

Kenny Gaines enters the Georgia Tech contest 11 points shy of becoming the 46th Bulldog to reach 1,000 career points.

Gaines has scored 989 points in 99 games played in a Georgia uniform, almost a perfect 10.0 ppg average.

Gaines will join classmate Charles Mann in the Bulldogs’ millennium scoring club. Mann scored his 1,000th career point in last year’s regular-season finale at Auburn.

Mann entered 2015-16 at No. 36 among UGA’s career scoring leaders and has ascended to No. 29. He enters the Tech contest only nine points shy of catching both former teammate Nemanja Djurisic and Jerry Epling (1967-70) at the No. 27 slot with 1,123 points.


Maten Riding 20-point Streak

Yante Maten’s current four-game, 20-point scoring streak is the Bulldogs’ first since Trey Thompkins recorded five straight 20-point outings in February of 2010.

Maten opened the stretch with a career-high 21 points at Seton Hall and matched that output against Oakland. He then scored 20 points versus Kansas State before pouring in a new career best of 24 against Winthrop.

Perhaps more impressive than the sheer numbers during Maten’s streak is its efficiency. The sophomore from Pontiac, Mich., has connected on 60.0 percent (30-of-50) of his shots from the floor over the past four games and converted on 86.7 percent (26-of-30) of his trips to the line.

Thompkins’ stretch came in SEC play when, in succession, he scored: 21 on Feb. 13 vs. South Carolina; 25 on Feb. 17 vs. Tennessee; 21 on Feb. 20 vs. Alabama; 21 on Feb. 25 vs. Vanderbilt; and 20 on Feb. 27 vs. Florida.


Small in Stature, Big On Boards

J.J. Frazier grabbed 10 rebounds against Winthrop. In the process, the junior from Glennville became the most prominent name among a list of players under 6-feet tall.

A year ago, Frazier was among seven players under 6-feet who recorded a double-figure rebounding effort. He hauled in 11 boards against Seton Hall.

With his performance against Winthrop, Frazier joined five other under-6-foot players with 10 or more rebounds this season.

Frazier is the only player in the nation under 6-feet to have a double-figure rebounding performance in each of the past two seasons.


And A Well-Rounded Effort

Along with his 10 boards, J.J. Frazier also scored 15 points – for his first career double-double – and handed out five assists versus Winthrop.

Frazier became just the third Bulldog to post 15 points, 10 boards and five assists during Mark Fox’s six-plus seasons in Athens.

Travis Leslie did so twice, both times against Vanderbilt. Leslie had 21 points, 13 rebounds and five assists against the Commodores on Jan. 12, 2011, and also notched 22 points, 10 boards and five assists versus Vandy on Feb. 25, 2010.

In addition, Trey Thompkins had 23 points, 14 rebounds and six assists against Arkansas in the first round of the SEC Tournament on March 11, 2010.

Thanks to stats guru Dave McMahon, who compiled the data on Frazier’s feats mentioned in the previous two notes.


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 204 games played, 146 starts and 5,197 minutes played. 

Much of that has been compiled together by the tandem of Peach State products.

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 (pronounced “Ohwg-Bay-Day”) enjoyed a very impressive unofficial debut for 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 Kansas State. 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.”


Past, Present Bulldogs Graduate

A current and former Bulldog received their diplomas from UGA in commencement ceremonies in Stegeman Coliseum on Dec. 18.

Junior Juwan Parker earned his degree in Management, impressively in just two and a half years after his arrival in Athens. Parker will begin pursuing a master’s degree in Sport Management in January.

Adrian Jones, who played for the Bulldogs from 1997-01, also secured his bachelor’s in Recreation and Leisure Studies.

All told, 24 current and former Bulldogs have now graduated from UGA since Mark Fox arrived as Georgia’s head coach in 2009.

Three more will receive their degrees next May. Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann will earn their bachelor’s in Housing. Houston Kessler will garner his bachelor’s in Economics.


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 seven games this season, Geno is averaging 25.6 minutes of action per game. The Booneville, Miss., native has matched or bettered his previous career-most MP in six 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. All told, he has now been on the court for the tip of 13 of Georgia’s last 15 games.


Mann Does It All Against Panthers

It’s not uncommon to hear a comment like “Ya know, 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 – from point guard to low post – during his 31 minutes of PT. Perhaps most impressive was his defensive effort in several matchups with John Brown, the nation’s No. 4 active scorer.

Mann has started three positions this season – at ‘5’ vs. Chattanooga, at ‘2’ vs. Winthrop and at ‘1’ in every other game.


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. He 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 in 3-pointers made (7) and No. 5 in 3-pointers attempted (14).

Gaines’ performance against Murray State represented just the eighth time a 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) as outlined below.


50 Percent Of UGA’s Points

Player, points Game info

Kenny Gaines, 35 63-52, Murray St. (11/20/15)

J.J. Frazier, 37 72-66, Miss. St. (1/24/15)

K. Caldwell-Pope, 32 63-68, LSU (3/14/13)

Travis Leslie, 34 66-78, Vanderbilt (3/12/10)

Levi Stukes, 20 38-50, Florida (3/2/05)

Willie Anderson, 36 71-65, Florida (2/10/88)

Donald Hartry, 31 62-61, Miss. St. (2/8/86)

Dominique Wilkins, 33 64-58, Ole Miss (2/27/82)


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 11 non-conference opponents this season averaged 19.3 wins a year ago and finished 2014-15 with an average NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (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.

Nine of 11 the Bulldogs’ non-conference opponents 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. 

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


UGA’s Non-Conference Schedule

Day Opponent 14-15 RPI

11/13 vs. Chattanooga 113

11/20 vs. Murray State 46

11/25 vs. High Point 91

11/28 at Seton Hall 103

12/1 vs. Oakland 171

12/4 vs. Kansas State 108

12/8 vs. Winthrop 206

12/19 vs. Georgia Tech 147

12/22 vs. Clemson 106

12/29 vs. Robert Morris 153

1/30 * at Baylor (SEC/Big 12 Challenge) 17

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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.