5 Observations From UT’s 81-72 Loss at Georgia

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    Rick Barnes-1-3

    The Vols fell 81-72 to Georgia (9-5, 2-2 SEC) in Athens on Wednesday night, falling to .500 (8-8) on the season and 1-3 in SEC play. Here are five quick observations from the Vols’ second straight SEC loss:

    1. 3-ball was the difference: It’s a game, ultimately, about being able to put the ball in the bucket, and simply put: Georgia did that much more efficiently on Wednesday evening, especially from beyond the arc. The Bulldogs were extremely hot from 3-point territory, hitting 12 of 19 (63.1%) from there. Tennessee couldn’t respond – only hitting 6 of 23 (26%). Some of that is a credit to Georgia, particularly guards Kenny Gaines and J.J. Frazier, just shooting the ball well. But Tennessee’s defense also left way too many Georgia shooters open. That has to tighten up as the Vols move forward in SEC play.

    2. Second-half woes: Tennessee’s been outscored in the second half in all four SEC games by an average of 11-points per contest. The trend continued at Georgia with the Bulldogs erasing a 35-28 halftime deficit to storm back and outscore the Vols 53-37 over the final 20 minutes. Perhaps it’s a lack of quality depth for the Vols or maybe the focus just isn’t there for all 40 minutes. Regardless, this is an unsettling trend that has hurt them several times this season already.

    3. Admiral demoted to lieutenant: Reigning SEC Freshman of the Week Admiral Schofield, who has been a breakout star in the first three conference games and averaged 18.3 ppg in UT’s contests last week, was completely neutralized against Georgia, scoring just two points, grabbing one rebound and playing just 14 minutes after some early foul trouble. His recent emergence had been a big boost for the Vols, and a nice addition with the recent struggles of Robert Hubbs III, but his lack of impact was noticeable on Wednesday as the Vols struggled to find consistency on both ends of the floor.

    4. Vols continue to struggle away from home: Tennessee can’t buy a win away from Thompson-Boling Arena this year, falling to 0-7 in away and neutral site games this year, and the Vols have lost by an average of 8.4 points per game in its last five games in that situation. Stegeman Coliseum, the home of the Bulldogs, has been a house of horrors for the Vols recently. They haven’t won a game there since the 2010-11 season – the final year of Bruce Pearl’s tenure. Tennessee’s had three different coaches since that time.

    5. Georgia survives sloppy ball-handling night: Generally, 20 turnovers will doom a team. Georgia, however, managed to escape despite an extremely sloppy evening handling the basketball. The Bulldogs’ success from 3-point range certainly helped erase some of those errors, but Tennessee didn’t truly make them pay for some of them either. The Vols got 20 points off those 20 turnovers, but also lost the ball 13 themselves, giving Georgia 14 points off their turnovers – a margin that was easily neutralized by the difference in shooting percentage.

    Final stats: