Georgia is not expecting for Yante Maten to return to the basketball court this regular season.
Head coach Mark Fox said that the knee sprain Maten was diagnosed with is serious enough to where he and the Georgia medical staff is not expecting him to return for the final four games.
“It is a very significant sprain, and it’s a serious injury, and I have very little — I don’t think myself or our medical people have any expectation of Yante returning during the regular season,” Fox said. “I think the odds of that are very, very slim.”
Maten was injured in the first two minutes of Saturday’s 82-77 loss against Kentucky after colliding with guard Isaiah Briscoe.
Fox said he will have to tinker with the lineup to make up for Maten’s production. Against the Wildcats, Mike Edwards stepped up with 10 points, and Derek Ogbeide recorded 11 rebounds. Edwards will be in line for more game action, considering he plays Maten’s position.
“I think our young people, they’ve stayed the course to try and play the game the right way and continue to give themselves chances to win,” Fox said. “Obviously, losing Yante will be a tremendous challenge for our team, but I would expect that they will come again with the right approach. Hopefully we can find a way to reinvent what we do.”
To Georgia’s credit, it has showed in recent games that it can play well without Maten in the lineup. In a win at Tennessee, the Bulldogs went a long stretch in the second half without Maten due to foul trouble and were able to rally from a 14-point deficit.
Against Kentucky, Georgia (15-12, 6-8 SEC) went without Maten for more than 38 minutes and played the Wildcats in an even game that featured 15 lead changes and 13 ties. Still, Fox acknowledged how tough it will be to overcome Maten’s loss. Maten has posted 18.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, which includes three games where he scored 30 or more points.
“I think that we obviously played fairly well without him the other night,” Fox said. “We played pretty well in the short stretch at Tennessee without him. So it can be done. But obviously, he’s been the most productive player on our team. We’re going to have to look at some things with our rotation obviously and how we play to compensate for the fact he’s going to be out. We’re a different team without him. I think if you went into any game this year, one of the keys from an opponent would be to stop Maten. Well, that obviously is not an issue anymore because he’s not playing. We’ll have to get creative in how we play and try and give ourselves chances to win.”