Yante Maten has been one of Georgia's most dependable players all season long.
So it was a bit of a wake-up call when head coach Mark Fox decided to sit him for an extended period of time in the first half two games ago against Auburn. Maten finished the first 20 minutes scoreless in the loss, in which he admitted he could have performed much better in.
Fox’s motivational tactic, along with Maten’s desire to play better for his teammates, worked as he was able to post 19 points and 10 rebounds in the team’s 80-66 victory over Mississippi on Saturday. That was on top of the 10 points he scored in the second half of the Auburn loss, which gives Maten a total of 29 points in three halves.
Maten, who is averaging 15.9 points this season, said Fox explained to him how important Georgia needs him at all times.
“He said, ‘We need you, we need you to play hard every single time you get on the court,’ ” Maten said. “I took that to heart because I wasn’t playing nearly to the capability I could’ve played last game. I made sure every time I get on the court I’m giving 100 percent.”
When he’s at his best, Maten is tough to slow down. He ha reached double figures in all but four games this year. He has become one of the best post players in the SEC, especially on the offensive end.
After the Auburn game, Maten said he wanted to get back on the right track, both mentally and physically. Maten also hopes to continue this into the final week of the regular season.
“I was determined to go in strong,” Maten said. “Coach has been getting on me, telling me I need to go up stronger and have better looks at the basket. I agree, I’ve been too lackadaisical. I’ve been settling too much. I tried to get in as close as possible and keep hitting them until I can get to the rim.”