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State & Regional
Georgia spoils Porter Jr.'s return, beats Missouri 62-60

Georgia spoils Porter Jr.'s return, beats Missouri 62-60

Georgia spoils Porter Jr.'s return, beats Missouri 62-60
Photo Credit: Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Missouri's Michael Porter Jr. (13) reaches for a rebound between Georgia's Teshaun Hightower (10) and Yante Maten (1) during the second half in an NCAA college basketball game at the Southeastern Conference tournament Thursday, March 8, 2018, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Georgia's Nicolas Claxton (33) celebrates as he runs off the court with his teammates following an NCAA college basketball game against Missouri at the Southeastern Conference tournament Thursday, March 8, 2018, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Georgia's Yante Maten, right, shoots over Missouri's Jontay Porter, left, during the second half in an NCAA college basketball game at the Southeastern Conference tournament Thursday, March 8, 2018, in St. Louis. Georgia won 62-60. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Georgia's Nicolas Claxton celebrates his team's victory over Missouri in an NCAA college basketball game at the Southeastern Conference tournament Thursday, March 8, 2018, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Georgia spoils Porter Jr.'s return, beats Missouri 62-60

ST. LOUIS (AP) - With the Southeastern Conference tournament in St. Louis and heralded freshman Michael Porter Jr. returning, Missouri fans were hoping to be treated to a weekend-long show from the Tigers.

Yante Maten and the Georgia Bulldogs did their best job to prevent that from happening.

Maten scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Georgia squeaked out a 62-60 victory over Missouri in the second round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Thursday.

Georgia, the 12th seed, led throughout the second half, but fifth-seeded Missouri narrowed the Bulldogs' lead to just two points with seven seconds left. The Tigers drew up a play for their leading scorer, Kassius Robertson. But Robertson's 3-point attempt went long and Georgia secured the victory.

After starting the game down 10-0, the Bulldogs (18-14), who face fourth-seeded Kentucky in Friday's second quarterfinal, charged back with a 12-0 run of their own. The trend continued throughout the contest: Missouri makes a run, Georgia responds.

"I felt like we got off to a very slow start but eventually found a rhythm defensively in the first half," Georgia coach Mark Fox said. "(We) were able to just kind of grind to the finish."

Maten and the Bulldogs put Missouri in foul trouble early. Missouri bigs Jeremiah Tilmon and Kevin Puryear fouled out and Jontay Porter finished with four fouls.

"We did a poor job of fouling," Robertson said. "We put them in the bonus really early, and they made a lot of money at the free-throw line."

Jontay Porter led Missouri (20-12) with 20 points and eight rebounds. His brother, Michael, a projected lottery pick who played just two minutes in the season opener and later had surgery, finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, but shot just 5 for 17 from the field.

Teshaun Hightower came up big off the bench for Georgia, matching his career high of 13 points. Hightower played a big role in Georgia's win over Vanderbilt Wednesday night, when he scored 13 and had six assists.


Georgia: The Bulldogs looked impressive against Vanderbilt in the first round, and they looked solid against Missouri here in the second as well. Maten will need to have a big game against Kentucky to keep Georgia's tournament hopes afloat.

Missouri: With a home court advantage, Missouri was obviously hoping to make it past the second round in the tournament. But the Tigers should still be safe on Selection Sunday. Porter Jr. looked good at times, but he didn't shoot well overall. If the Tigers make the NCAA tournament, it will be interesting to see his role Missouri's offense.


Missouri's Jontay Porter and Georgia's Maten were going back and forth on the offensive end and on the boards. Each player led his team in both points and rebounding. For Porter, the 20-point performance marked his fourth game with 15 or more points in his last five contests.

"He's coming in and consistently getting the work in, working on his shots, ball-handling, his passing," Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said.

For Georgia, Maten's 21-point performance comes after his 25-point showing against Vanderbilt in the first round.

"He's been just a tremendous producer for us this year," Fox said. "He can shoot threes, he can get to the foul line, he can post up and go over both shoulders."


Missouri's Michael Porter Jr. played the fifth-most minutes of Missouri players Thursday, but shot seven more times than any of his teammates. Many questioned whether Porter Jr.'s return would hurt the team's offensive flow. And while Martin said Missouri's offense didn't flow as well, he attributed that to foul trouble, rather than Porter's return.

"Because of foul trouble, we put him in some spots that he wasn't accustomed to from the time he was practicing," Martin said. "I was really trying to put him in a position where he's a spot-shooter."


Georgia will take on Kentucky on Friday in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament.

Missouri will wait until Sunday to figure out where it will go next.

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Georgia Sports News

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  • ATHENS – All indications are Nick Saban is going to stick around Alabama a while. Based on his contract, that looks to be at least until 2024 at Alabama. We can joke about other deals he may have made to age as well as he has. The fact is, the Crimson Tide’s coach looks great and says he feels great at 66. There is no evidence of him slowing down anytime soon. We know Georgia’s Kirby Smart is going to be around a good, long while, too. He’s 42 and expected to receive a raise and contract extension in the coming weeks and months. My point here – this could get really fun before it’s all over. It’s not like Georgia needs any new rivals. Lord knows the program probably sports more intense rivalries than any other single team in America. If you ever want to initiate a good debate around the water the cooler or at your local watering hole, ask a group of people whom they believe is the Bulldogs’ biggest rival. Chances are you’ll hear Florida or Georgia Tech out of most folks. But as was well-illustrated this past season, Georgia’s rivalry with Auburn is pretty intense as well. It is, after all, the oldest one in the Deep South. Only a pair of world wars have kept the schools from playing each other every year since 1892. And after the split in 2017 – with the Bulldogs winning the more important one in the SEC Championship Game – only two games separate them on that extensive ledger, with Georgia holding a 58-56-8 advantage. Georgia and Tennessee used to hardly ever play. But they’ve met every year since conference expansion in 1992. And that has been a wild one of unusual streaks on both sides. Most Volunteers fans probably would tell you Bama is their main rival, but I’m not sure that’s truly the case with the way that series has gone of late. The Crimson Tide have won “The Third Saturday in October” contest 11 times in a row and 12 of the last 13. Meanwhile, Jeremy Pruitt has been installed as Tennessee’s coach, and if you look at his coaching staff, it has a decidedly Georgia flavor to it. Thirty percent of his full-time assistants were with him when he was defensive coordinator at UGA: offensive line coach Will Friend, defensive line coach Tracy Rocker and defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer. Then I found out the other day that John Lilly – former tight ends coach at Georgia and, at different times, interim offensive coordinator, special teams coordinator and recruiting coordinator with the Bulldogs – has joined Pruitt’s staff as an offensive analyst. Pruitt is definitely going to have some inside intel on UGA, and it would behoove him to change the direction of that series, which has seen the Bulldogs win six of the last eight. And while it likely never will be the case for Georgia, don’t underestimate what the annual series with South Carolina means to the Gamecocks. I have a ton of family members who live in South Carolina and are alums of that school. While Clemson always will carry the torch as their greatest rival, the Georgia game is huge to them every year, especially when it’s in that SEC opener slot, as it is this season. They’re under the direction of Will Muschamp, a UGA alum and one of Smart’s close friends. We all know how competitive close friends can be. Florida is Florida. Just ask DawgNation’s Brandon Adams – the consummate Georgia fan – where that rivalry ranks for him. That’s another rivalry that has swung wildly one way or another over the years. Smart is 1-1 in it, but the Gators just brought in Dan Mullen as coach. He knows the lay of the land down there and, contrary to the last few coaches in Gainesville, knows how to find a good quarterback and what to do with one once he gets there. And, as the old Georgia saying about Tech goes, if you don’t know how important that game is to the fan base, lose it and you’ll find out. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, that doesn’t happen as often as it once did. But if Georgia’s program continues to trend the way many believe it will, the Bulldogs could have a budding rivalry with Alabama in the works. We all know what happened in the National Championship Game in January, and they’re already prohibitive favorites to meet in the 2018 SEC Championship Game. Based on recent recruiting rankings, that’s a matchup that could up to be a regular one over the next several years. There is the potential for Georgia-Alabama to go the way Florida-Alabama did in the 1990s. Did you realize they met nine times during that decade? The Gators won six of them. Lane Kiffin, the former Alabama offensive coordinator and Tennessee head coach, talked about Georgia and Alabama in an interview with ESPN’s Off The Bench Thursday. He said he expects Saban to continue to coach Alabama for a long time, but he said Smart’s presence at Georgia could have an impact on the Crimson Tide being able to sustain the level of success it has had to date. “That’s hard to do when you’ve got someone who’s been with you for 10 years and knows every single thing you do and every single reason why you’re successful,” said Kiffin, who’s now coach at Florida International, in the interview. “I went to Alabama for three years and it was already rolling. Kirby was there from Day 1 to see how [Saban] built it. That’s hard. The guy’s been there 10 years and now he goes inside the conference and you’ve got to compete against him.” Of course, Smart’s just one of a number of former assistants to go against Saban. Pruitt and new Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher join a long list that includes Muschamp and Jim McElwain in the conference. The difference is Smart has been able to win more of the head-to-head recruiting battles. Georgia and Smart will have to keep that up to have any hope of actually turning Alabama into another rival. It’s anything but at the moment. After the Crimson Tide’s win in the championship game, they lead the series 39-25-4. Kiffin credited Saban’s skillful recruiting for Alabama’s success. “That’s the No. 1 reason he wins,” Kiffin said. “Every Saturday they play, they have better players than the other sideline, and it’s usually not even close. They had better players, by far, even in the national championship.” According to recruiting rankings, Georgia ended up with the better players this year at least. If Smart can make that a trend, the Bulldogs might have a nice, new rivalry in the making. The post Kirby Smart’s presence could make Georgia, Alabama rivals appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Welcome to the Question of the Day, where our writers answer (or try to answer) the best questions submitted by Georgia fans. If you’d like to submit a question, please e-mail us at ugaquestionoftheday@gmail.com. Or you can tweet us at here and here. Look for the Question of the Day every Monday through Friday. How about an update on whether or not Tom Crean is going to retain Jonas Hayes?  I know that Kenny Johnson was Tom Crean’s ace recruiter who left Indiana to go be Rick Pitino’s top recruiter.  Unfortunately, Kenny Johnson was fired after getting caught up in Pitino’s problems. Just curious if Tom Crean has reached out to Kenny Johnson? The right hire is Jonas Hayes. That good news should have already been announced.  Thank you. — Henry Stone OK, so I should put you down in the category of wanting Jonas Hayes to be retained? Seems you feel that way but want to be sure. Nothing is official yet, but things certainly seem to be moving in the direction of Hayes remaining on staff. He has been recruiting alongside Crean this week, and Crean keeps having nice things to say about Hayes, such as this in an interview with AM 960 The Ref on Friday morning: “It’s actually been a little too busy to just sit down and lay everything out, but I’ll say this: I really, really like him. I know how important he is to Georgia and I know how important Georgia is to him. I see the way people respond to him, which is great.” One important point: Hayes is still under contract to UGA through this summer, as are all of Mark Fox’s assistants. So Hayes still working and recruiting doesn’t mean he’s been retained. Phillip Pearson and David Carter, the other two assistants, are also under contract and as far as I know also continue to work, even if it’s just administrative duties. That’s another reason Crean doesn’t need to rush to announce Hayes is being retained. This also allows him to get to know Hayes and make his own evaluation. Evidently he likes what he sees so far. I don’t know if retaining Hayes will be enough to get Ashton Hagans and Elias King, the two one-time 2019 commits, back in the fold, especially Hagans. When he de-committed last month amid the Mark Fox uncertainty, it opened the floodgates for interest from other programs. But Hayes’ prowess as a recruiter certainly would help down the line and would provide an instant bridge between Crean and the Georgia fan base. An underrated asset that Hayes brings to the table: The ability to restrain coaches from getting too heated during games. Hayes excelled at that the past couple of years. Here he is doing it with Mark Fox: (Curtis Compton/AJC) And here is Hayes restraining Kent Davison a couple of years ago: (DawgNation/file photo) As for Kenny Johnson joining Crean, I have trouble seeing that happening, given the uncertainty over the FBI scandal. Matt Bucklin, who has been on Georgia’s staff in an operations capacity the past few years, could be a candidate to stick around. Bucklin is the nephew of Tom Izzo, who is close with Crean. If Crean wants to reach back to his Marquette days and get someone who knows the SEC, he could talk to Darrin Horn, the former South Carolina head coach who has been an assistant for Shaka Smart at Texas the past two years. Horn was an assistant for Crean at Marquette. Another name: Bennie Seltzer was an assistant for Crean at both Marquette and Indiana, but was also born and raised in Birmingham, Ala., and and was the head coach at Samford from 2012-14. So he should know the southeast recruiting territory well. This isn’t football, where you get 10 assistant coaches, and now a bunch of quality-control spots. Those three full-time assistant positions are precious. If I had to guess now, I’d say that if Hayes is retained then the other two spots are likely to go to people closer to Crean’s orbit. Have a question for beat writers Chip Towers and Seth Emerson? E-mail us at ugaquestionoftheday@gmail.com The post Will Jonas Hayes stay on staff with Tom Crean? appeared first on DawgNation.
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