ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Yante Maten scored 21 points and had strong support from a freshman class led by Rayshaun Hammonds as Georgia rolled to an easy 79-54 win over Bryant on Friday night in the season opener for each team.
Maten had game-high totals of 12 rebounds and four blocks. Hammonds added 17 points on his 19th birthday. He became the first freshman to start Georgia’s opener since Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, now with the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, in 2011.
Maten, a senior, has been the mentor for the four-man freshman class. His lessons included pointing to where they should sit for postgame interviews.
“I think they did really good,” Maten said. “Everyone showed what they’re about.”
Hammonds said guidance from Maten and other upperclassmen “made the game easier for us.”
The Bulldogs showed improved athleticism and size while giving significant playing time to three freshmen — Hammonds, 6-foot-11 Nicolas Claxton and Teshaun Hightower. A fourth freshman, Isaac Kante, played late in the game.
Georgia stretched its advantage to double figures less than six minutes into the game and pulled away…