ATHENS, GA – The Georgia Bulldogs men’s basketball team bounced back from a heart-breaking 66-61 loss in Lexington to Kentucky the past Sunday with a 71-60 win over the Ole Miss Rebels on Wednesday night in their SEC home opener at the Stegeman Coliseum.
Senior guard Juwan Parker had his first career double-double, leading the team with career-high points (18) and career-tying rebounds (11). The native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Parker shot a perfect 3-point game (4-for-4), which is also a career-high, bringing his season average to 36.8 percent.
“Our bench was really good to us tonight, Juwan and Jordan came in and were terrific,” said head coach Mark Fox. “It can’t always be just Yante so it’s nice to win a game when he doesn’t have to do all the work. Our bench is the key to winning. I thought Turtle didn’t play necessarily well and Yante didn’t get the looks in the second half, we needed some guys off the bench. Our bench was key for us, it’s one of the things we feel is a strength of our team and Juwan obviously was very good tonight.”
Senior forward Yante Maten posted his 13th consecutive double-digit game with 15, while both junior forward Derek Ogbeide and sophomore guard Jordan Harris bested their season-highs in points with 14 and 12 respectively.
Ogbeide put the first points on the board which were answered by an Ole Miss (8-6, 1-1) 3-pointer. The Rebels had the advantage until Ogbeide countered with a jam in the 14th minute, tying the score at eight. Ole Miss fought back for the 11-10 lead but were cut short by a jumper from Harris. Followed by a tip-in from Maten, the Bulldogs surged ahead, claiming an eight-point lead from an Ogbeide jumper and free throw.
Ole Miss regained the lead, but Maten answered with a tip-in and a free throw bringing the Bulldogs back on top 26-24. Georgia closed out the first half with a 16-7 run, featuring a jam from junior forward E’Torrion Wilridge, a three from Harris and 11 Maten points, securing the 39-31 lead going into halftime.
Georgia kept the momentum going in the second half with a three from junior guard William Turtle Jackson II and did not allow the Rebels to come within six points of the Bulldog lead. With 13:26 remaining in the game, Parker went on a tear, scoring 12 of the next 14 Georgia points to record a season-high in points. The Bulldogs had a 10-point plus advantage on the Rebels for the larger part of the half.
A free throw from Maten gave the Bulldogs their largest margin of 16 points with less than five minutes remaining. Parker banked a three in the last minute to bring the game to 71-60 and secured his career-high in points, as well as the 71-60 Georgia win.
Defensively, Georgia held Ole Miss to 60 total points, their second lowest of the season.
CLICK HERE for the full box score from the Georgia vs. Ole Miss men’s basketball game notes.
After the game, Georgia head coach Mark Fox had this to say about the Bulldogs’ win and the team’s performance.
“Tonight was a hard fought SEC game,” said Coach Fox. “I felt that guarding the three-point line was going to be important and we were able to do that. I feel fortunate to beat a team that was playing very well coming in here, and Coach Kennedy always has really good teams and been very successful in this league so we feel fortunate with the win.”
Mark Fox added:
“They’ve been making over 10 three’s a ball game, averaging 31 points per game from the 3-point line and that was one of our keys to the game, we cannot let them make three-point shots. They only got six out of 26 attempts so we were pleased with our 3-point defense, there was one we weren’t happy about but for the most part, we did a pretty good job there.”
Senior Bulldog guard Juwan Parker spoke about his performance on the night, especially when he caught fire in the second half of the game.
“I just got hot,” said Parker. “Guys like Yante and Turtle kept looking to find me, and I just kept shooting. I got hot.”
Parker was asked what was Georgia’s mindset after the tough loss to Kentucky.
“Just come out and execute, said Parker. With SEC play, we have a game every three or four days. So [we] just flush it and moving on to the next one. After tonight, we will flush this one and move on to the next one.”
Georgia senior forward Yante Maten also spoke about where the Bulldogs were at after the loss and what the win over Ole Miss at home meant.
“Any win after a loss is a great bounce back for us. I’m glad we got a win.”
Up next for the Bulldogs is another home game as they will host Alabama at the Stegeman Coliseum on Saturday, Jan. 6 for a 12 Noon tipoff on the SEC Network.