Yante Maten picked up the ball and started steamrolling down the Stegeman Coliseum court.
Initially, Maten looked to pass but the Belmont defense elected not to stop the dribbler. From there, it was clear nothing would stop Maten from taking it all the way to the hoop. Near the basket, he took flight and threw down a monstrous dunk over a Belmont defender – the type that you typically see on a poster. It was a crucial play in Georgia’s 93-84 win over Belmont, especially since the game got closer than it probably should have been.
The play was indicative of Maten's overall performance. He scored a career-high 33 points on 14-of-17 shooting and also brought down 10 rebounds in the win.
Following his dunk, Maten screamed, showing more emotion than he had all season. It was the kind of play Maten would probably look for on ESPN SportsCenter once he got home.
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"I don't have cable in my room," Maten said.
The Bulldogs (20-13) also got a season-high 23 points from guard Charles Mann. Belmont (20-12) had five players end the game in double figures, with Craig Bradshaw scoring 19.
THREE WHO MATTERED
Maten: Maten did just about whatever he wanted to do against the Bruins. He made three 3-pointers. He scored at will around the rim. He hit some mid-range jumpers. Maten had a career night and showed a glimpse of what his potential can be like next season. With 33 points and 10 rebounds, he recorded his 10th double-double of the season.
Mann: Throughout the second half of this season, Mann's outside shooting has been better than it has during his entire career. Mann made four 3-pointers and ended the game with 23 points. Mann got some wide-open looks in the second half with Belmont paying extra attention to Maten in the post.
J.J. Frazier: Frazier started slow but made huge buckets down the stretch. He ended the game with 16 points, which included two huge 3-pointers in the second half. He made all eight of his free-throw attempts.
Up four with about 1:45 left to play, Georgia needed a big play and got one from Frazier. With the shot clock running down, Frazier hoisted a 3-pointer over a defender and saw it go through the bottom of the net. The Bulldogs were able to cruise from there.
Future is bright: You started to finally see the pieces of this team coming together in the SEC Tournament. Unfortunately for Georgia, it was just a tad too late to get in the NCAA Tournament. But with Maten having his way down low, and Turtle Jackson and E’Torrion Wilridge playing well, Georgia could be working with something next season.
3-point heavy: Belmont’s lack of size prevented it from doing anything down low. Georgia forced the Bruins into being a 3-point shooting team, which is usually a good thing. But as most basketball fans know, Belmont has historically shot the ball well under head coach Rick Byrd, which is what kept the Bruins around longer than they probably should have been. For the game, Belmont went 14-of-37 shooting from behind the 3-point line.
Back to Maten: With Maten dominating the post, Belmont began fronting him in the second half. It slowed his offensive production down temporarily, but didn’t take him out of the game. Maten still found ways to score with a nifty jump shot he’s added to his arsenal over the season. It makes you wonder what kind of additional shooting he’ll be allowed to do moving forward.
Frazier’s ankle: There was some concern as to whether Frazier would be able to play Wednesday due to a foot injury sustained against Kentucky in the SEC Tournament. Frazier started and seemed fine throughout.
20 wins again: Georgia's victory gives the program 20 wins for the third consecutive season. This is the first time the Bulldogs have accomplished this since 1995-98. Fox actually became the first head coach in program history to notch three consecutive 20-win seasons, as former head coaches Tubby Smith and Ron Jirsa combined for the previous streak.
15 home wins: Georgia's 15 home wins this season tied the program record, which was set previously during the 2013-14 season.
THEY SAID IT
Fox on Georgia putting up 93 points, the most it has all season: "We did play very well offensively. J.J. having not practiced, not going through the shootaround – we didn’t think we’d get a lot of scoring from J.J. He was a great facilitator. When Yante’s having he night he’s having, people sink in and Charles has a lot of open 3-point shots. He’s worked hard to become a much-improved 3-point shooter."
Mann on making four 3-pointers: "When I saw it going in I got a little bit of confidence and kept on shooting it."
Byrd on Belmont's issues defending Maten: "When you're a smaller team playing against a bigger school and one of those things is that we felt like we had to help on their posts off the perimeter. Then Maten makes three out of three (3-pointers) in the first half, and I don't know how many he had made all year, but not many. I thought we competed very hard but we came out and started the second half very poorly and it cost us."
Georgia guard Kenny Gaines on winning 20 games for the third consecutive season: "It’s very important for our team. We can stretch our season out. What we’ve done in three of the last four years is definitely incredible."
Georgia will travel westward to take on St. Mary’s in the second round of the NIT on Sunday at 7:30 p.m.