The Georgia men’s basketball team won its third-straight Southeastern Conference game Saturday afternoon, defeating Alabama 70-63 on Senior Day at Stegeman Coliseum.
With the win Georgia (17-12, 10-8) has now split the past 60 games played in Athens with the Crimson Tide (17-13, 8-10). Alabama leads the all-time series 90-49.
The Bulldogs were led on the offensive end by Yante Maten with 19 points. J.J. Frazier and Senior Charles Mann finished the afternoon with 17 and 12 points, respectively.
“I feel very good about the win over a terrific basketball team today,” head coach Mark Fox said. “It was a hard-fought game. With the quick turnaround we anticipated that we probably wouldn’t be the prettiest offensive group today. Give Alabama’s defense credit, but we didn’t shoot it well. We were too tired early to fight for a good shot. Eventually we composed ourselves and fought our way back to win.”
Alabama jumped out to a quick 10-4 lead at the first media timeout, but the Bulldogs responded scoring seven straight points to take the lead at 11-10. Neither team could find any separation over the course of the next 10 minutes as Georgia took a 27-22 lead with three minutes to go in the period. The Crimson Tide nailed a three-point basket several minutes later to bring the score to 27-25 at the break. Derek Ogbeide led the Bulldogs in the first half with eight points and four rebounds in 13 minutes of action.
The Bulldogs buried back to back three-pointers to begin the second half extending their lead to eight with just under a minute played. Alabama came back with a five-point run cutting Georgia’s lead to two. The Crimson Tide took a two-point lead, but Mike Edwards tied things back up at 40-40 with 13 minutes to go with a short jumper. The highlight of the second half came on a UGA fast break when Maten threw down a big dunk giving Georgia a 53-50 lead with 6:50 to go. The sophomore scored an and-one basket several possessions later putting Georgia up six. Georgia made its plays down the stretch securing the victory at 70-63.
The Bulldogs’ next matchup will come in the 2016 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament played in Nashville, Tennessee starting March 9. Seeding for the tournament will be announced following the conclusion of all conference regular season games.
• On senior night, Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines scored 12 and seven points, respectively.
• The Bulldogs finish the season 10-8 in SEC play, giving the Bulldogs back-to-back-to-back winning seasons in conference play for just the second time in program history.
• Georgia will head into SEC Tournament play on a three-game win streak for the first time since the 1996-97 season. In the SEC Tournament that year, Georgia advanced to the championship game where it ultimately fell to No. 6 Kentucky.
• With the win, Georgia is now tied all-time with Alabama in games played in Athens at 30 wins apiece.
• Georgia decidedly won the rebounding battle against Alabama, 48-26. The dominant showing on the boards gave Georgia its greatest rebounding differential of the year, surpassing plus-15 against Tennessee. Additionally, the 48 boards matched Georgia’s season high, set against Auburn.
• Georgia led 27-25 at the half despite shooting just 1-of-9 from deep and 9-of-33 from the field in the opening 20 minutes.
• Gaines hit his first shot of the second half, a 3-pointer after going 0-for-5 from distance in the first. J.J. Fraier then followed with a trey of his own after going 0-for-3 from behind the arc in the opening 20 minutes.
• Gaines overtook Dustin Ware for fifth all-time in 3FGAs in UGA history. He is also now six points from matching Charles Claxton’s career point total for 19th in Georgia history.
• Yante Maten’s 19-point game was his 25th double-digit scoring game of the season and 30th of his career.
• Charles Mann’s 12-point game was his 16th double-digit scoring game of the season and 68th of his career.
• J.J. Frazier’s 17-point game was his 22nd double-digit scoring game of the season and 40th of his career.
Georgia Head Coach Mark Fox
On tonight’s game…
“Let me first talk about the team that we just defeated. Alabama has had a terrific season. They have wins against top-25 teams, they have great wins on the road, they’ve played an incredibly difficult schedule, and they belong in the NCAA Tournament. I honestly feel that way. Alabama could have gone out and scheduled a bunch of cupcakes and had a little pretty record, and maybe it looks more appropriate, but they’re a tournament worthy team. Their kids deserve that opportunity because of how they challenged themselves in their schedule and the wins that they have. That being said, I feel very good about the win over a terrific basketball team today. Hard-fought game, really hard-fought. We anticipated that with the quick turnaround that we probably wouldn’t be the prettiest offensive team today… Eventually, we composed ourselves, and fought our way back to win.”
On if his team is deserving of an NCAA Tournament bid…
“I feel like we still have some work to do, but we’ve played an incredibly difficult schedule and we have defeated some very good teams. Our kids have refused to give into adversity. We continue to get better and we continue to scratch out a few wins. We need to scratch out a few more, but if we do scratch out a couple more, then I think we’re obviously worthy of very serious consideration. But we need to go to [the SEC Tournament] and get something done.”
Senior G Kenny Gaines
On having three straight wins heading into the SEC Tournament…
“Of course it feels different because of the winning streak. It’s something we knew that we could do. We had to get hot at the right time. Rather get hot late than early. We are in a good position right now.”
Sophomore F Yante Maten
On the team’s approach to rebounding…
“Being aggressive, hitting them and going to get the rebound. Our guards helped us a lot this game too with rebounding. The bigs take their man. It’s usually the guards that get back on defense. So if our guards come and help us rebound, it’s a way better chance of us getting the defensive rebound.”
Alabama Head Coach Avery Johnson
On today’s loss…
“When you get beat up on the boards like we got beat up tonight, you’re going to have a hard time winning. You’re going to have to hit more threes than we did tonight, so they beat us up on the boards pretty good. When you give up that many offensive rebounds it is going to be a hard time. But we had our chances. We’re in the game and then Arthur goes down with the cramps and we turned the ball over a couple of times there at the worst times. It was another game where we’re right there in the last seven or eight minutes of the game and just couldn’t pull through.”
On what he told his team…
“It’s been a roller coaster ride during the regular season. I told the team I’m proud of them. Anything can happen in the SEC Tournament. We’ve shown that we can get hot, so hopefully in this ‘new season,’ which will be a great experience for all of us, we can turn some of these misfortunes around that we’ve had at the end of the regular season.”