Georgia center Yante Maten entered this season with plenty of attention cast his way, but one of the SEC preseason players of the year was impressed with the Bulldogs’ freshmen class in Friday’s season-opening victory over Bryant. The Bulldogs host South Carolina Upstate on Tuesday, looking for another strong performance from the newcomers after Rayshaun Hammonds, Nicolas Claxton and Teshaun Hightower combined to score 29 points and 17 rebounds in their debut.
“I think they did really good,” Maten told reporters afterward in discussing the freshmen. “Everyone showed what they’re about.” Maten began his senior season with a typical standout effort, scoring 21 points with 12 rebounds and four blocked shots in 23 minutes as the Bulldogs pulled away in the second half. Georgia is in the midst of a three-game homestand before departing for the Wooden Legacy next week. South Carolina Upstate opened its season with a loss at No. 15 Minnesota on Friday before defeating NAIA Allen University 85-66 on Sunday.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, SEC Network Plus
ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA UPSTATE (1-1): The Spartans gave new coach Kyle Perry his first victory Sunday, as Malik Moore and Jure Span combined for 35 points. Moore is averaging 20.5 points through two games, scoring 23 on 6-of-12 shooting in Friday’s 92-77 defeat to Minnesota. South Carolina Update won 17 games last season, and was picked fourth in the Atlantic Sun Conference’s preseason poll.
ABOUT GEORGIA (1-0): The Bulldogs never were threatened in the opener, leading by double figures early in the first half and building a 40-17 lead at intermission. William Jackson scored 11 points but the Bulldogs, adjusting to life without the graduated J.J. Frazier, finished with 17 turnovers and 14 assists. Hammonds finished with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting with seven rebounds, while Claxton and Hightower finished with six points each.
1. One area of improvement for Georgia is from the free throw line where the Bulldogs shot just 19-of-32 on Friday.
2. Hammonds became the first Georgia freshman to start a season opener since Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in 2011.
3. Maten is three points shy of Charles Claxton – Nicolas Claxton’s father – for 21st place on Georgia’s all-time scoring list.
PREDICTION: Georgia 78, South Carolina Upstate 64