Georgia is entering postseason play riding a three-game winning streak after defeating Alabama 70-63 on Saturday.
The Bulldogs (17-12, 10-8 SEC) were in a close game throughout against the Crimson Tide (17-13, 8-10) before pulling away late. Georgia once again received another balanced effort offensively, which has suddenly sparked this team over the past three games.
Georgia forward Yante Maten led the Bulldogs with 19 points, which included a thunderous dunk midway through the second half. Alabama was led by forward Shannon Hale, who kept his team in the game thanks to a 25-point performance.
THREE WHO MATTERED
Maten: Maten started strong and kept it going during the 26 minutes he was on the court. He finished with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting. He also posted 5 rebounds. Maten converted two and-one trips and made all five of his free-throw attempts. Two early fouls did force him to hit the bench in the first half.
Derek Ogbeide: While Ogbeide didn’t play much in the second half, his first-half performance helped pace Georgia, especially with the slow start from the backcourt. Ogbeide finished the game with 8 points and 5 rebounds.
Charles Mann: Mann played his heart out in the final regular-season game of his career. Hustling all over Stegeman Coliseum, Mann finished with 12 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal.
Frontcourt production: Georgia’s guards have carried this team all season long. So when the big men scored the first 15 of 16 points for the Bulldogs on Saturday, some collective head-scratching was going on. Outside of a Mann free throw, Maten, Ogbeide and Mike Edwards combined for those 15 points, with the bigs (which doesn’t include Kenny Paul Geno despite his sometimes forward designation) combining for 31 points at the game's end.
Rebounding advantage: Despite the close score, Georgia demolished Alabama in the rebounding battle. The Bulldogs ended the game with a 48-26 advantage on the boards, which is remarkable considering their leading rebounder was Mann with 7. Of the 48 rebounds, 19 of them were on the offensive end.
Shannon’s swishes: Hale entered the game averaging 10.6 points per game. He ended up having a field day against the Bulldogs, hitting shot after shot to total 25 points. He hit 4 of 7 3-pointers, even with defenders in his face. He’s the reason Alabama kept the game close and led at times.
Three-game streak: Georgia has now won three games in a row for the first time in SEC play. It's the first time Georgia has won three games in a row this season since a four-game winning streak from Dec. 8-29, when it beat Winthrop, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Robert Morris.
The last time: Georgia hasn't won three games in a row to close a conference season since 1996-97. That year, the Bulldogs advanced to the SEC Tournament championship game, where they lost to Kentucky.
Bama’s injuries: Hale’s performance came after injuring his arm or elbow in the first half. He looked to be in considerable pain but was able to return and put in a great performance. Arthur Edwards injured his leg twice under the Georgia goal and returned to the game after the first injury. Both times he had to go the locker room. After the second injury he was unable to return.
THEY SAID IT
Gaines on Georgia winning three games in a row: "Of course it feels difference 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."
Maten on Georgia winning the rebounding battle: "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 his team's loss: "When you get beat up on the boards like we got beat up (Saturday), you're going to have a hard time winning. You're going to have to hit more 3s than we did, 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."
Georgia’s regular season concludes and the Bulldogs will play in next week’s SEC Tournament as the No. 6 seed on Thursday.