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Georgia takes down Vanderbilt in 2018 SEC Tournament opener

The ‘Dawgs now move on to face Mizzou on Thursday.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Georgia vs Vanderbilt Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

The Georgia Bulldogs won the 2018 SEC Tournament’s opener on Wednesday night. The Dawgs defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores 78-62, and in the process advance to the second round.

The game was hardly ever close, as Georgia jumped out to score 10 unanswered points out of the gate. Vanderbilt brought it to 12-6, but UGA then would respond and get up to 21 before the Dores even got to double digits. The Dawgs just kept on scoring from there, getting all the way up to 38 points before the Commodores could even get over the 15-point threshold.

UGA held a 43-22 lead at the half after shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from the 3-point line. By comparison, VU shot 28.1 percent from the floor and 18.2 percent beyond the 3-point arc on 11 attempts.

While Vanderbilt rebounded to shoot 56 percent from the field and 50 percent from the 3-point line in the second half, the deficit proved insurmountable. Georgia led for 38 minutes and 31 seconds, with the only time tied being when it was scoreless at the start of the game. It was as impressive a showing as we’ll probably see in this SEC Tournament.

Unsurprisingly, the star of the show in St. Louis was Yante Maten. The senior forward scored 25 points and only needed 12 shots to achieve it. Maten shot 9-12 from the field, 2-4 from 3-point land and was also 5-6 from the free throw line. Maten committed only one turnover in 29 minutes of action, and also pulled down four rebounds. KenPom’s SEC Player of the Year put together his 16th-straight game in double figures and 30th of the season. It’s also the 16th time he’s put up 20 points or more this season.

Teshaun Hightower and Rayshaun Hammonds joined Maten in double figures. The freshman duo scored 13 and 10 points respectively, It was an exceptional game for Hightower, considering the Lithonia, Georgia native averaged just 3.0 points per game this year. Hammonds had a more robust 6.6 points per game average, but he too leapt over his average.

Derek Ogbeide hauled in a game-high 10 rebounds on the night. The junior forward, who averaged 6.0 rebounds per game this season, had one of his best showings on the glass this season.

Vanderbilt seniors Riley LaChance and Jeff Roberson ended their careers on a sour note in the win-loss column. LaChance and Roberson scored 17 and 16 respectively, going 1-2 in the scoring department for the Commodores. Freshman guard Saben Lee had 12 points to finish as the only other Commodore in double figures. Cleven Brown finished just on the outside with nine.

While Vandy’s season from hell is over, they certainly have a lot to look forward to next year. Darius Garland and Simi Shittu will prove to be impact players, and there’s a chance that they could still scoop up touted Indiana prospect Romeo Langford. The future’s bright for the folks in Nashville, but, this was certainly not how they wanted to see things go this year.

Georgia, on the other hand, will live to fight another day. Their test on Thursday looked to be tough from the onset, as they will face the Missouri Tigers. But, the fifth-seeded Tigers got quite the boost on Wednesday. The news that Michael Porter Jr. will be back in action sent some shockwaves throughout the SEC, and it will surely prove to be an intriguing sight for Mizzou on Thursday and going forward, should they defeat the Dawgs. We’ll see what Yante Maten and his teammates have in store for MPJ and the Tigers.