Maten, Parker help Georgia knock off Vanderbilt
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) No team in the Southeastern Conference has defended the arc better than Georgia this season.
Yante Maten wanted to make sure the Bulldogs didn’t let up against Vanderbilt.
”We were just trying to make sure we weren’t giving them any easy shots in transition and contest what we could on the perimeter,” he said. ”That was the game plan, and we executed it.”
Maten scored 21 points, Juwan Parker added 17 points and Georgia beat struggling Vanderbilt 76-68 on Tuesday night.
J.J. Frazier finished with 15 points, five assists and six rebounds for the Bulldogs (12-6, 4-2 Southeastern Conference), who have won three of four.
Vanderbilt, which trailed nearly the entire game, has lost four straight – its longest skid since January 2015 when it dropped seven in a row.
Matthew Fisher-Davis, Vanderbilt’s leading scorer this season, did not start for the first time this season and finished with nine points on 4-for-13 shooting. First-year coach Bryce Drew held him out until the 13:38 mark of the first half and until the 14:06 mark of the second half.
”In our last game, there were some actions that weren’t representative – he’s a very good young man – of who he was or what our program represents,” Drew said. ”He just didn’t start the game but he was going to play and do what he usually does.”
Luke Kornet scored 19 points and Riley LaChance had 13 for the Commodores (8-10, 2-4).
Vanderbilt struggled all night on 3-pointers, missing 10 of its first 11 beyond the arc and finishing 10 for 31. The Commodores were outscored by 18 points on free throws as Georgia took the ball to the rim all night and drew 34 fouls. Vanderbilt drew six.
Fisher-Davis’ benching stemmed from a home loss to Tennessee on Saturday, when he argued with an official about a charging call and was whistled for a technical. Drew put him on the bench for eight minutes against the Volunteers. He also was benched for the whole second half in a loss to Butler Nov. 24.
Vanderbilt began the second with a turnover, an air-ball 3 and an air-ball runner on three of its four possessions, but Jeff Roberson hit consecutive 3s to pull within three. That was the closest the Commodores had been since the game’s first three minutes.
Their momentum didn’t last long. Georgia was back up by 10 with 4 minutes remaining. Vanderbilt cut the lead to five in the final 2 minutes before Maten hit a pair of free throws and Fisher-Davis committed a turnover with 1:25 to go.
Parker hit both free throws to make it a nine-point lead.
The Bulldogs committed a season-low six turnovers.
Vanderbilt: Fisher-Davis’ behavior could cause a distraction the team doesn’t need from its leading scorer. The junior guard ranks second in the SEC in 3s made, so his absence in the early parts of both halves hurt the Commodores beyond the arc.
”Again, he’s a very good kid,” Drew said. ”We’re confident he’ll come back and have good games.”
Joe Toye started in Fisher-Davis’ spot and scored one point in 21 minutes.
Roberson, a junior forward, lost his cool when he coughed up the ball to E’Torrion Wilridge at the 7-minute mark of the first half. Roberson retaliated with a flagrant foul, and the Bulldogs soon took their first double-digit lead on 3s by Parker and Maten. Parker followed with a layup to make it 30-17.
Georgia: Maten has struggled with foul trouble this season, getting sent to the bench early in three games, but he stayed whistle-free until the 3:08 mark of the second half.
”It was definitely a conscious effort,” he said. ”I was trying to make sure I wasn’t fouling out because that didn’t help our team the last couple games. It’s been an emphasis.”
Maten most recently fouled out late in regulation Saturday at Florida and the Bulldogs lost in overtime. He will need to find a better balance of using his physicality. He had just four rebounds against Vanderbilt, most of them in the closing minutes. Maten began the game ranked fourth in the SEC with an 8.4 average.
Vanderbilt: Visit No. 19 Florida on Saturday.
Georgia: Visit Texas A&M on Saturday.
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