3 Observations: Georgia 80, Tennessee 63

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    (Photo via Tennessee Athletics)

    The game was close early on, but after about the 10-minute mark of the first half, things went sideways for Tennessee.

    The Vols were blown out by Georgia on the road in Athens on Wednesday night, falling 80-63 to the Bulldogs. The loss drops Tennessee to 10-6 on the season and 2-2 in SEC play.

    The Bulldogs got revenge for Tennessee’s 96-50 beat down on them in Knoxville last season, handing the Vols one of their biggest losses of the season so far. Georgia picked up their first win in conference play with the victory, and they have now won six-straight games against Tennessee in Athens.

    Tennessee’s offense has been bad over their last four contests, but at least their defense has played well and has kept them in games and won them a few games. On Wednesday, both the Vols’ offense and defense were bad, and it cost them against a team with some offensive firepower like Georgia has.

    Arizona State transfer Uros Plavsic made his debut for the Vols, but it got spoiled because of the poor team effort. Plavsic finished with just five points and three rebounds in 17 minutes of action.

    Here are our three biggest takeaways from Tennessee’s big road loss against Georgia.

    No Answer for Edwards or Hammonds

    The No. 1 player in the 2019 recruiting cycle, Anthony Edwards certainly looked like a one-and-done player against the Vols on Wednesday night.

    Edwards dropped 20 points on Tennessee’s head in the first half, and though he was bottled up more in the second half, he still finished with the most points of any player in the game. The five-star freshman finished the game with 26 points and attempted a game-high 17 field goals, making seven of them. Edwards was 5-of-10 from three and made seven of his eight free throw attempts. He also added six rebounds and three assists for good measure.

    Tennessee’s defense played poorly all around on Wednesday, but the explosion by Edwards was really what did the Vols in. Edwards entered the game as the second-leading scorer in the SEC, and he only increased that 18.7 point per game average. His barrage in the first half effectively put the game out of reach for the Vols. Tennessee trailed 47-28 at halftime and actually outscored the Bulldogs 36-33 in the second half. But that first half deficit was too large to overcome, and that was thanks mostly to Edwards.

    Wednesday marks the eighth time in 16 games that Edwards has scored 20 or more points in a game this season.

    Rayshaun Hammonds, the Robin to Edwards’ Batman, had a superb night as well. He finished with 21 points and five rebounds while making seven of his 10 field goals, including all three of this three-pointers.

    Both Edwards and Hammonds combined for 47 of Georgia’s 80 points. The duo nearly outscored Tennessee’s entire team.

    No Transition Defense 

    Tennessee’s defense had an uncharacteristically bad night on Wednesday, and it started with their inability to stop the Bulldogs on the fastbreak.

    The Vols’ transition defense was lacking all night, and Georgia outscored Tennessee 12-2 on the fastbreak. Time and time again the Bulldogs would get out in transition, and the Vols struggled to get back and in good defensive position almost every time.

    Tennessee could’ve survived that poor transition defense if that was the only bad aspect of their defense on Wednesday. Unfortunately for them, it was not.

    Georgia shot 47.4 percent from the floor and made 43.5 percent of their three-pointers. Just like in three of their last four games, Tennessee was dominated in the paint by the Bulldogs, too. Georgia outscored Tennessee 34-28 in the paint.

    Coming into Wednesday’s game, the Vols were only allowing 59.3 points a game, and teams were only shooting 40.8 percent against them on two-point field goals. Georgia had 47 points by halftime and finished the game with 80 points, the most Tennessee has allowed this season. The Bulldogs shot 50 percent from inside the three-point arc.

    No Offensive Relief 

    It would be one thing if Tennessee’s offense was able to alleviate the defense on their off night. But that wasn’t the case, as the Vols’ offensive woes continued.

    Tennessee entered Wednesday’s game averaging just 59.3 points a game and shooting only 37.9 percent from the field over their last four games. Against Georgia, those trends pretty much continued, as the Vols totaled only 63 points and shot 40 percent overall, including only 23.1 percent from three.

    Only two Vols scored in double figures against the Bulldogs. Josiah-Jordan James had 11 points on 3-of-9 shooting, and Jordan Bowden finished with a team-high 12 points, hitting five of his 12 field goals. Bowden did miss all five of this three-pointers, however, and he was in foul trouble for most of the night.

    Over and over again, Tennessee settled for threes rather than trying to work it inside in the paint. Georgia doesn’t have a daunting post presence, but the Vols still didn’t attack the basket. John Fulkerson, Uros Plavsic, and Olivier Nkamhoua combined for just 15 points on only 11 attempted field goals. Of the Vols’ 60 field goal attempts, 26 were from three.

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.