ATHENS, Ga. — Yante Maten scored 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead Georgia to a 68-65 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Sunday afternoon.
Georgia (3-0) scored the first 11 points of the game and led by as much as 19 points, but Texas A&M-Corpus Christi rallied in the second half. The Islanders never led, but tied the game three times, the last at 53-all with 5:25 to go after a pair of free throws by Kareem South.
Joseph Kilgore led A&M-Corpus Christi (1-3) with 22 points. His 3-point attempt to tie rimmed out at the buzzer.
The Bulldogs got 15 points from Rayshaun Hammonds.
South scored 18 for the Islanders.
Myles Smith hit one free throw with 13.8 seconds remaining to close the Georgia lead to 64-63. But Hammonds and Jordan Harris hit four free throws for the Bulldogs, sandwiched around a coast-to-coast layup by Smith, who tweaked his ankle on the play and had to leave the game.
Georgia bolted to an 11-0 lead in the first four minutes, getting a layup and a dunk from Derek Ogbeide. Midway through the half Rayshaun Hammonds nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing to make it 17-2 Georgia. The big lead came at 27-8 with 5:27 to go when Tyree Crump hit his only 3-point field goal in eight attempts.
The Islanders scored half of their 16 first half points in the last 2:19 to trail 30-16 at the break.
They continued their surge in the second half, tying the game at 36-all with 14:29 to go on a layup by Myles Smith.
By holding off the pesky Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders, Georgia avoided the kind of loss that can haunt a team months later when the field is selected for the NCAA Tournament.
The Bulldogs have earned NCAA bids in two of Mark Fox’s eight seasons, settling for NIT bids the last two years. Two years ago non-conferences losses to Chattanooga and Seton Hall marred a 20-14 resume. Last year Oakland and Marquette beat the Bulldogs early.
After opening 3-0 at home, Georgia heads to the West Coast for the Wooden Legacy Tournament, playing Cal State Fullerton Thanksgiving night.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi continues a three-game road swing, returning to the Lone Star State for a Nov. 24 game at Texas-San Antonio.