The Georgia Bulldogs basketball team heads to Knoxville, TN on Wednesday to take on Bruce Pearl’s #20 Tennessee Volunteers (18-6 overall; 6-4 SEC).
Georgia snapped a 10-game losing streak with their thrilling 78-63 blow-out win over the Vols in Athens back in January.
The game on Wednesday will be played at the Thompson-Boling Arena, a place where the Dawgs haven’t won since February 21, 2001.
The road as been anything but kind to Georgia this year, as they are now 0-8 overall and 0-5 in the SEC in true away games. An outside observer would certainly not give the Dawgs much of a chance in this one.
Georgia, however, is coming off a 66-61 comeback victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks, and looking to build a little momentum.
Tennessee has lost two straight road games at Vanderbilt and Kentucky, and surely this team will be excited about getting home in front of their own fans.
With the dismissal of All-SEC forward Tyler Smith back in early January, senior center Wayne Chism has done a marvelous job of leading this team. In SEC play this season, Chism is averaging 15.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks a game. He is the team’s best inside scorer and certainly the Vols’ “go to” guy in the clutch.
Senior wingman J.P. Prince has been a “do everything” sort of player for Tennessee. In SEC games, he is averaging 10.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists. Prince is also an excellent defender, who can make it very difficult on the opposing team’s perimeter players with his long body and athleticism.
On the perimeter, the Vols are led by sophomore Scotty Hopson and senior point guard Bobby Maze. Hopson is averaging 11.8 points in conference games, and he has hit 39.2% of his three-point field goals on the season. Maze is scoring 9.8 points a game in SEC play.
Off the bench, Bruce Pearl has gotten solid play from freshman forward Kenny Hall, who is scoring 5.1 points and grabbing 5.5 rebounds in SEC play. Junior guard Melvin Goins has scored 25 points over the last two games against Vandy and Kentucky.
Since the last meeting between these two teams, Pearl has reinstated junior center Brian Williams. Williams has only played a total of 3 minutes in his first two games back, but the 6’10” 267lb Vol is a load inside and could see a significant increase in playing time against the Dawgs’ big frontcourt.
Here is how the Dawgs can pull off an upset in Knoxville on Wednesday: (and yes I understand Georgia hasn’t won a true road game this year)
Tennessee does not shoot the ball well. As a team, the Vols are knocking down 42.1% from the field, and only 29.7% from beyond the arc! In the game in Athens, Fox used a packed-in 1-2-2 zone against Bruce Pearl’s Vols and it frustrated Tennessee into shooting 42.3% on field goals and 18.8% on three-pointers. As long as the Dawgs’ defenders can contest shots by Hopson, and keep track of Chism when he slips out to the perimeter Georgia should be able to hold the Vols offense in check.
Who’s Got the Better Bench?
In the game in Athens, Georgia’s bench outscored Tennessee’s 16-13. This was due in large part to the play from EA and Jeremy Price. In 15 minutes of play, Anyaorah finished the game with 7 points and 4 assists. Price gave Coach Fox 9 points and 3 rebounds in 25 minutes. These two guys (along with Vincent Williams and Chris Barnes) have got to be able to come into the game and contribute.
Outscoring the Vols bench this time around could be more difficult for the Dawgs. Remember that in the last game Cameron Tatum and Melvin Goins were just being eased back into the rotation following their suspensions. Add in the return of reserve center Brian Williams, and it is easy to see how the Vols bench could be up to the challenge on Wednesday.
Play Smart Trey
As evidenced by the Auburn game last week, Georgia becomes a much different team when Trey Thompkins is not on the court (that’s what happens when your leading scorer and rebounder and team-leader leaves the game). I guarantee that Bruce Pearl’s staff took note of this, and I would be willingly to bet that Chism and the other Tennessee frontcourt players attack Trey in the paint on offense. Albert Jackson and Jeremy Price need to give Thompkins help on the inside, and Trey needs to be careful not to pick up silly fouls because as he goes so go the Dawgs.
A Little Bit of Mojo
Everyone knows that Georgia is 0-8 in true road games this season, and on paper they really don’t have much of a shot to pull off the upset at Tennessee (last I checked UGA was an 11.5 point underdog in this one). However, for some reason this team thrives against stout competition, as evidenced by the Dawgs 3-2 record against ranked opponents this year. A lot of Georgia basketball fans thought the Dawgs had a chance of getting their first road win at South Carolina (didn’t happen), and even more thought that Georgia would certainly nab one at Auburn (didn’t come close to happening). Maybe Wednesday night the Dawgs will steal a game that no one expects them to? Before dismissing this possibility, please think back to this season’s SEC opener at Kentucky in which Georgia came very close to shocking the then ranked #3 Wildcats on their own court…
The game tips off at 8PM EST and will be televised on Peachtree TV – channel 7 for Comcast and 802 for Comcast HD.
Anyone else giving Georgia a chance in this game?