Georgia made the lengthy trek to the west coast with aspirations of getting a step closer to playing in New York, however that was not the case as they ran into the buzzsaw that is Saint Mary’s. The Bulldogs looked disoriented throughout, falling to the Gaels in the second round of the NIT by a score of 77-65.
Here are three observations from the season ending defeat.
1. LID ON THE BASKET FOR MATEN
Sophomore forward Yante Maten looked very impressive on Tuesday night, tallying 33 points in the tournament opening win over Belmont. Georgia had hoped for a similar performance, as they figured he would have many looks at the basket. However, that was not the case as the ball wouldn’t drop in for Georgia’s big man. He finished with 12 points after an extremely subpar 6-22 from the field.
His below average performance played a key role in Georgia’s defeat, as a great deal of points were left on the table and didn’t allow for other shots to open up.
2. RAINING THREES FOR THE GAELS
Georgia’s defense truly had little answer for the aerial assault implemented by Saint Mary’s big men. The Gaels combined to shoot 9-24 from behind the arc. It may not seem as a large total, however it opened up an inside game and the Gaels were able to cruise for a majority of the game.
Saint Mary’s offensive attack was led by Evan Naar with 15 points and Evan Fitzner with 13.
Offensively, their inability to run a fast-paced, transition set to counter with Saint Mary’s half-court offense dug Georgia in a hole that they couldn’t dig themselves out of. Although the fast-pace seemed to click for Georgia the last few games, Mark Fox must’ve assumed that running the same pace as the opponent would be successful, but we come to find out it worked against them.
3. CAREERS OF MANN AND GAINES COME TO AN END
Georgia Basketball had been a lower-echelon program in the SEC, and the arrivals of guards Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann have changed that, helping boost the Bulldogs to come closer to being a national power. Their four seasons were extremely impactful, and potentially two of the best that Georgia has had in their program.
Their careers haven’t ended the way they had hoped, in an early exit of the NIT. However, their heads should be held high as their efforts were valiant throughout the season, and tonight in an attempted push to bring Georgia back. Mann finished with 13 and Gaines finished with 11.
The passion and loyalty to his program could be seen in the emotion conveyed by Kenny Gaines. After fouling out in the final minute, the dejection showed on his face showed his desire to take the program a step further.
With that said, myself and Georgia fans thank the two seniors for their efforts and class showed throughout their careers.