Tennessee (13-8) at Georgia (14-7)
Saturday, Feb. 7th, 12:00 p.m. ET
Stegeman Coliseum (10,523) • Athens, GA
Probable Georgia Starters
G-Kenny Gaines, 6-3, 200, JR (11.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
G-J.J. Frazier, 5-10, 150, SO (10.9 ppg, .435 3FG%)
G-Charles Mann, 6-5, 215, JR (11.1 ppg, 3.7 apg)
F-Nemanja Djurisic, 6-8, 230, SR (11.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg)
F-Marcus Thornton, 6-8, 235, SR (13.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg)
Probable Tennessee Starters
G-Josh Richardson, 6-6, 200, SR (16.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg)
G-Kevin Punter, 6-4, 180, JR (11.0 ppg, .426 3FG%)
G-Robert Hubbs, 6-6, 206, SO (6.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg)
F-Armani Moore, 6-5, 215, JR (10.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg)
F-Tariq Owens, 6-10, 205, FR, (.8 ppg, 1.0 rpg)
Setting the Table
The Vols are coming off a devastating home loss to Mississippi State on Tuesday night – a loss that cost them nearly 30 spots in the NCAA’s official RPI and removed them, at least temporarily, from the bubble. Mark Fox’s Georgia Bulldogs lost their last two games – road contests against South Carolina and Kentucky.
For the first time since the 1963-64 season, the Vols won’t face Georgia in Knoxville. The Bulldogs are 10-1 at home this season with their lone loss coming to Arkansas. Tennessee is 3-2 on the road, 3-1 in SEC play, and will be looking for a resume road win.
The Vols have lost three of their last four games but are in a four-way tie with Georgia, Florida and LSU for fifth in the SEC standings.
Georgia has the third highest RPI in the SEC (N0. 25) while the Volunteers sit at No. 79 in the NCAA’s latest official rankings.
Tennessee needs a win over Georgia to help make up for Tuesday’s loss to Mississippi State. The Vols have been solid on the road but they don’t have a road win over a team of Georgia’s caliber. A victory wouldn’t make up all the ground Tennessee lost this week, but it would go a long way toward putting the Vols back in bubble territory.
“Our team’s margin of error is so small. If we don’t have the right mentality and we are not on razor’s edge, there is no one in our league we can beat. That is just where it is.” – Tennessee head coach Donnie Tyndall
Freshman Vol power forward Jabari McGhee is likely out for the season after foot surgery. Junior Guard Devon Baulkman will be playing with a torn ligament in his left shoulder, but he has been effective. Ian Chiles, who missed significant time this season due to toe and shoulder injuries, had surgery on his injured shoulder and will miss the remainder of the season.
Georgia’s best player, Marcus Thornton, is a game time decision as he recovers from concussion like symptoms. He practiced on Friday, but has to be cleared to play against Tennessee.
3 keys for the Vols
1. The Edge: Tennessee head coach Donnie Tyndall has consistently spoken about it – the Vols have to play with an edge, have to play their best ball, to beat anyone on their schedule. Against Mississippi State, the Vols played hard and dominated every hustle category but clearly lacked the intensity (and sharp execution) Tyndall often references. Thursday, the team went through the most physical practice I’ve ever seen. If they play like they practiced, Georgia will be in trouble.
2. 3-point Shooting: Georgia is shooting a scorching 41.2% from 3-point range in conference play and guard J.J. Frazier, who is shooting 49% from deep, is a big reason for that. The Bulldogs, on paper, are a tough matchup for a Tennessee team that has struggled at times to consistently defend the 3-point line. Tennessee lost to Mississippi State thanks, in part, to hot 3-point shooting from the Bulldogs. The Vols will have to close out on Georgia’s shooters quickly and contest every shot to have a chance at the upset. On the flip side, the Vols are shooting 43% from deep in road conference games this season. An efficient day from beyond the arc would go a long way toward a Tennessee upset.
3. Rebounds: Even if Thornton doesn’t play, Georgia will still pose problems for the Vols on the glass. The Bulldogs lead the SEC with a +4.4 rebounding margin in league play. They clean up the defensive glass and limit second chance opportunities. If they’re able to keep the Vols off the offensive glass (Tennessee leads the SEC in offensive rebounding percentage), it’s tough to see a path to victory for Tennessee.
KenPom.com: Georgia 68-59
Daniel: Georgia 68-65
Houston: Tennessee 70-69
Reed: Georgia 70-60