Coming off Missouri loss, Georgia prepares for South Carolina amid travel problems

Coming off Missouri loss, Georgia prepares for South Carolina amid travel problems

It was a less than ideal situation for the Georgia men’s basketball team to be in.

Set to travel Tuesday for Wednesday’s road game at Missouri, the Bulldogs were stuck on campus longer than expected due to a mechanical issue to the airplane it was using. As a result, Georgia had to wait until after 9 p.m. Tuesday before it could take off from Athens Ben Epps Airport, which gave some concern to head coach Mark Fox.

Even so, Georgia held a three-point lead at the break against Missouri. But in the second half, the Tigers got some early buckets inside and warmed up from the perimeter to notch a 68-56 win.

“In the second half, we didn’t have the juice. I don’t know if it was the travel problems we had going there,” Fox said. “There weren’t a lot of changes schematically by either team. We just didn’t execute our plan very well. We looked like a tired team in the second half. That’s taking nothing away from Missouri. Our defense, obviously, in the second half wasn’t very good.”

The travel issues didn’t end there, however.

To return home, Georgia dealt with an additional problem with its plane and was unable to land back in Athens until after 4 p.m. Thursday. That meant the team was forced to spend the night in Missouri on Wednesday, which came after initially checking out of its hotel. Thursday’s practice was therefore canceled, which irked Fox since Georgia has a game against South Carolina Saturday at 1 p.m.

“We didn’t get back here until after 4 (Thursday) so that kind of cost us a work day,” Fox said. “It’s time for a new travel company.”

Fox said the one positive takeaway from the travel fiasco is that forward Yante Maten was able to get some extra rest. Maten is averaging 19.3 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, but is coming off a Missouri outing in which he only scored nine points.

Given that Maten is logging a career-best 32.3 minutes per game, Fox thinks the rest may help rejuvenate him.

“He’s carried a big load,” Fox said. “Probably the travel problems (Thursday) helped him because we weren’t able to practice. We didn’t get back in time. He got an extra day’s rest. Hopefully that helped.”