UGA Basketball

Bulldogs roll past Blazers in final preseason exhibition

Georgia defeated Valdosta State Thursday night.
Georgia defeated Valdosta State Thursday night. The Telegraph

Yante Maten needed only 21 minutes to score 24 points in Georgia’s exhibition win over Valdosta State.

As expected, the Bulldogs were able to roll in their final tune-up before the regular season begins next week. Georgia routed Valdosta State 112-74, with Maten putting on a show for the home crowd.

Maten put in his offensive performance on 10-of-12 shooting from the field. Head coach Mark Fox employed a heavy rotation to get most of his players involved in the game on the floor.

Three who mattered

Maten was terrific when he was in the game. Georgia’s offense will go through Maten all season long, with hopes that he can carry the Bulldogs to the NCAA Tournament after a two-year hiatus.

Georgia forward Derek Ogbeide: Ogbeide missed a few easy buckets early but got it going as the exhibition continued. He finished the game with 17 points and eight rebounds. If Ogbeide can become a double-digit scoring threat for Georgia’s offense, then the Bulldogs will be able to give a lot of teams fits down low.

Georgia forward Rayshaun Hammonds: The top-50 freshman sure is smooth on the basketball court. A heady offensive player, he moves within the Georgia offense well. He showed his ability to drive to the hoop and hit the outside shot. Hammonds ended the game with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Turning point

Georgia went on a 15-6 run to close the first half in the final 5:22. This put a pesky Valdosta State team away for good. The Bulldogs then jumped out to a 14-2 run to open the second half.

Observations

Formidable freshmen: Hammonds, Nicolas Claxton, Teshaun Hightower and Isaac Kante all got into the exhibition. Hammonds showcased his high four-star talent, with Claxton getting some solid run in the game as well. Claxton offers a unique skill set that head coach Mark Fox hasn’t had before. At 6-foot-11, Claxton worked inside and outside. More importantly, he displayed a solid defensive disposition about himself. His length figures to be a great asset to the team.

Intriguing backcourt: Georgia’s frontcourt figures to be one of the SEC’s best this season. After losing J.J. Frazier to graduation, the backcourt still has plenty of questions. Jackson earned the start at the point guard position and is Georgia’s best defensive option at the spot. But Hightower and Crump each showed why they are worthy of plenty of playing time, too. In the second half, Hightower drew some applause from the home crowd after shaking his defender and taking the ball to the hoop for a bucket. Crump showed off his long range once again with a 3-pointer.

Worth mentioning

Starting tall: Georgia kept its starting lineup the same from the Michigan State exhibition last Sunday. The Bulldogs started Maten, Ogbeide, Hammonds, Jackson and E’Torrion Wilridge. The average height of Georgia’s starting lineup is 6-foot-7.

Didn’t play: Forward Mike Edwards and guard Jordan Harris didn’t play in the exhibition. After the game, head coach Mark Fox said both players were "not doing what I'm asking them do," which is why they weren't put into the game. "They're just young, they have bright futures," Fox said. "I'm sure they'll be back soon."

What’s next?

Georgia will begin its regular season next Friday against Bryant. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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