Maten, Georgia overpower Alabama in easy 65-46 win
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Georgia coach Mark Fox knew his team would play in front of a sellout crowd and wanted his players to look spiffy.
It was Georgia against Alabama, two days before the two schools meet for the football national championship in Atlanta, so Fox told the equipment manager to break out the silver uniforms.
“I will say the fact that we played the same team today that we play on Monday night and that we decided to wear the silver britches today, we darn sure better back it up,” Fox said. “I felt like we really played determined basketball in the first half.”
Yante Maten had 26 points and 11 rebounds, Rayshaun Hammonds scored 13 points and Georgia cruised to an easy 65-46 victory over the Crimson Tide on Saturday.
Stegeman Coliseum hosted a rare capacity crowd of 10,523, with many Bulldog fans getting in some early cheering against Alabama. The atmosphere was charged, though it likely would’ve been louder had the outcome not been decided so early.
“We had a great crowd, an unbelievable crowd,” Fox said. “They didn’t have to roll their sleeves up too much in the second half. We’ll probably have to roll them up and get after them in the second half on Monday night.”
In a matchup of the Southeastern Conference’s two leading scorers, Maten used his size, length and speed to make the game tough on Alabama, while Tide freshman Collin Sexton scored 23 points but couldn’t get the rest of his team involved on offense.
Georgia (11-3, 2-1 SEC) has won four of five. The Crimson Tide (9-6, 1-2) has dropped two straight and three of four.
Alabama missed 40 of 57 shots from the field and got just three points from John Petty, twice named SEC freshman of the week. He is just two for his last 14 and has scored only five points in his last two games.
It didn’t help the Tide that guard Dazon Ingram, the team’s third-leading scorer, was sidelined by the flu. Alabama coach Avery Johnson said he was too sick to fly on the team charter, so the team had someone drive him over from Tuscaloosa, but he was too sick to play.
Sexton was the only Tide player to score in double figures.
“We just didn’t make any backside 3s,” Johnson said. “Then there were times that we had backside 3s that we pump faked and drove when we were wide open. I just didn’t see that confidence with our other guys to start the game.”
Maten, too big and fast for the Tide to successfully defend, flashed his skills all over the floor. In the first half he had a putback dunk to put the Bulldogs up 19-10, hit a 3 to make it 25-15 and then knocked down a straightaway 3 to push the lead to 30-17.
He had a two-handed jam early in the second half to give the Bulldogs a 20-point lead, followed by a right-handed dunk to make it 50-28. He hustled down to bat away an Alabama fast-break pass and preserve a 19-point lead at the 14-minute mark.
“I guess it was an all-around decent performance by myself but I definitely could’ve played better,” Maten said. “I let a couple of rebounds go as defender. I turned the ball over a couple of times. There were some reads I could’ve made better. I’m still a work in progress just like our team.”
Alabama: Struggled all afternoon to hit open looks and had no answer inside while getting outrebounded 49-31. Johnson deployed a full-court press in the second half, trying to force turnovers and quick layups, but his team never got closer than 16 points in the last 14 minutes.
Georgia: Turtle Jackson began the game averaging 10.8 points, second-best on the team, but scored just one point. He went 0 for 8 from the field, all on 3-point attempts.
LONG WAY TO GO
Georgia has won five of the last six matchups, but has a 52-94 record in the series. Alabama is still one game over .500 in Athens with 32 victories. Even so, this was one game Fox desperately wanted to win with Georgia trying to keep the Tide from rolling to a fifth national football title since 2009.
“I damn sure didn’t want the monkey around my neck that we lost to Alabama and took the negative momentum,” he said. “I damn sure wasn’t going to let that happen if I could help it, but I didn’t make any plays today. Our players made a bunch.”
Alabama: Hosts South Carolina on Tuesday.
Georgia: Visits Missouri on Wednesday.
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