Maten scores 23, Georgia sweeps Florida with 72-69 OT win
Even though the Southeastern Conference’s leading scorer got some much-needed help against Florida, it was no surprise to see Maten deliver the biggest buckets of the night.
Maten scored 23 points, including a huge 3-pointer to send the game into overtime, and the Bulldogs beat the Gators 72-69 on Wednesday night to end a three-game losing streak in SEC play. Maten added 10 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season.
”Yante’s a winner,” coach Mark Fox said. ”Most people just see him play; they don’t know him as a kid. As a young man, he’s a terrific person. He’s been a great Georgia Bulldog and that was obviously a huge shot at the end and super happy for him.”
The senior scored eight consecutive points to put the Bulldogs (14-11, 5-8 SEC) ahead for good early in the extra frame. He helped Georgia overcome an 11-point deficit in the final 10 minutes and win in Gainesville for the first time since 2002.
”There wasn’t any magic,” Fox said. ”Nothing we said was different. We just wanted to keep competing.”
The Bulldogs swept Florida for the first time since the 1996-97 season.
The Gators (17-9, 8-5) looked like they would win in regulation after Egor Koulechov scored eight points in the final 2:36. But Jalen Hudson turned the ball over, and Maten hit a wide-open 3-pointer from the top of the arc to send it to overtime. Maten also drained a 3 with 15.8 seconds remaining in regulation to keep Georgia close.
”It’s tough,” Koulechov said. ”It’s real tough, probably our toughest loss we’ve had all year because we felt like we were getting in the groove. We got to go back to the lab now and get the groove back again. That’s all we can do.”
”We had a lot of guys play well tonight,” Fox said.
Florida had plenty of chances in overtime, but missed five of its first six free throws. Leading scorer Hudson fouled out with 3.8 seconds remaining and was scoreless on the night.
Chris Chiozza had one final shot to send the game into a second overtime, but his 3-pointer from the elbow was short.
Koulechov and KeVaughn Allen led the Gators with 19 points each. Mike Okauru added 14 points off the bench.
Georgia: Fox needed this victory to keep from losing seven of eight, but he probably will need a bunch more to save his job. Fox has earned only two NCAA bids in eight seasons, losing in the first round in 2011 and 2015.
Florida: The Gators looked like they had turned a corner since losing three consecutive league games. But this was a step back and could be the start of a significant slide. Florida plays three of its final five in the regular season on the road. The stretch includes games against Tennessee, Auburn and Kentucky.
Georgia: Hosts No. 18 Tennessee on Saturday. The Volunteers have won seven of their last eight.
Florida: Plays at Vanderbilt on Saturday. The Commodores have won four straight at home.
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