Believe it or not, this Tennessee team is not THAT bad. Sure, the Vols lost all five starters from last year’s team that made a deep run into the NCAA tournament, including All-SEC studs Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams; however, Rick Barnes’s squad is 10-5 on the year and they were 2-1 in the SEC heading into this contest. The Vols’ latest win came against South Carolina; the same South Carolina that won at Virginia earlier in the season and just knocked off Kentucky at home tonight.
Sports Illustrated projected this Tennessee team to finish 6th in the SEC in its season preview.
With all that being said, the Dawgs made Tennessee look mediocre on Tuesday night in Athens, and that’s cause for Georgia Bulldog (11-5, 1-2) fans to feel optimistic about the remainder of this conference slate.
Anthony Edwards, who finished with 26 points, scored 20 of those in the first half on 4 triples, with some highlight dunks and creative backdoor cuts sprinkled in. Coming off of probably his worst outing of the season last weekend at Auburn, Edwards appeared to be in top form as he dazzled the Stegeman crowd with his athleticism around the rim.
Georgia blew the doors off Tennessee in the first half as the Dawgs headed to the locker room with a 47-28 advantage. UGA had 18 points in the paint and 10 off fast breaks prior to the break as the Dawgs were getting to the rim with ease. Donnell Gresham had a series of possessions where he took the ball coast to coast and finished at the basket with hardly any resistance from Coach Barnes’s bunch.
After beginning SEC play with Kentucky and Auburn, the Vols’ defense looked rather pedestrian in comparison, and Georgia feasted on Tennessee’s inability to rotate and play transition defense. The crazy thing is that Tennessee entered this game 14th in the nation in defensive efficiency.
Georgia’s dominance against the Vols was made even more impressive considering that Rayshaun Hammonds was limited to just 9 first half minutes due to 2 personal fouls; though, Hammonds did manage to chip in 9 points during his brief appearance (and he finished with 21 on the night).
The Dawgs coasted in the second half en route to an 80-63 victory in a game in which Tom Crean’s team barely felt threatened. Rayshaun Hammonds hit a three pointer to put UGA up 32-19 going into the media timeout with 7:52 remaining in the first half, and then out of that timeout Jordan Harris notched a steal that led to a breakaway dunk, and all of a sudden the Dawgs were up by 15 points.
It was kind of surreal to watch as Georgia has yet to beat a team of Tennessee’s caliber this year so soundly.
Georgia has a night game in Starkville this Saturday night with a shot to even up its SEC record. Considering that another matchup with Kentucky is on the horizon for next Tuesday, a win against Mississippi State feels a little bit like a “must-win”.