MBB: Georgia vs. Tennessee Preview

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MBB: Georgia vs. Tennessee Preview

Andrew Garica
Andrew Garica

Georgia (12-6, 4-6 SEC) vs. No. 16/15 Tennessee (13-4, 6-4 SEC)

Wednesday, February 10, at 8:00 p.m. ET

Thompson-Boling Arena (21.678) in Knoxville, Tenn.

Series History: UT leads, 96-61

Last Meeting: UGA, 80-63, on 1/15/20

Watch: ESPN2 (Tom Hart, play-by-play; Jimmy Dykes, analyst)

Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network Flagship: WSB AM 750 Atlanta; XM: 191; Internet: 962 (Scott Howard, play-by-play; Chuck Dowdle, analyst; Adam Gillespie, producer)

The Starting Five

• Toumani Camara and Sahvir Wheeler one of only three sets of Division I teammates with five or more double-doubles during the 2020-21 season.

• Sahvir Wheeler has 134 assists, the 16th-best season tally ever for UGA and just five shy of his own total last season and Willie Anderson (‘88) at the No. 14 spot.

• Justin Kier leads the SEC and is No. 42 nationally in average steals at 2.1. That is on pace to be the first Bulldog to average 2.0 spg since KCP in 2013.

• Eight different Bulldogs have scored in double figures during the 2020-21 season, combining to produce 72 double-digit performances in UGA’s 18 games.

• UGA’s roster features eight newcomers with representative in every class – two freshmen, a sophomore, two juniors and a trio of senior graduate transfers.

The Opening Tip

The Georgia Bulldogs will make an unexpected trek to Knoxville on Wednesday to face Tennessee three weeks earlier than originally scheduled.

UGA and UT were slated to meet in the regular season’s regularly scheduled finale on Wednesday, March 3. We say “regularly scheduled” because there are potential make-up dates for postponed games during the first weekend of March. The contest was moved after the Bulldogs’ game at Texas A&M and the Volunteers’ matchup with Florida were postponed due to Covid-19 issues for the Aggies and Gators. On Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m., the SEC announced that Georgia and Tennessee would face off this Wednesday.

The Bulldogs are eager to play this week and attempt to continue their impressive upswing of recent success. 

Georgia brings a three-game winning streak to Thompson-Boling Arena, the Bulldogs’ first trio of consecutive SEC victories since the latter portion of the 2016-17 campaign.

More impressive than the wins over Ole Miss, Auburn and Vanderbilt are the numbers within those outings. 

In Georgia’s first eight SEC outings, Georgia shot 43.8 from the field, including 32.0 percent from 3-point range. In the Bulldogs’ trio of victories, they are connecting on considerably improved efforts of 53.8 percent (86-of-160) of their shots from the field, including 46.9 percent (23-of-49) from behind the 3-point arc.

Georgia has not trailed in the second halves versus the Rebels, Tigers and Commodores. In fact, of the 120 minutes played, the Bulldogs have been behind for only 15:02 – 3:16 to Ole Miss and 11:46 to Vandy.

Keeping An Eye On . . . Entering Tonight’s Game:

Tom Crean is…

• 5 wins from 400 victories in his career

Justin Kier is…

• 11 points from 1,300 for his career

Andrew Garcia is…

• 4 rebounds from 500 for his career

• 34 points from 1,000 for his career

Sahvir Wheeler is…

• 5 assists from himself and Willie Anderson (1988) at No. 14 among UGA’s single-season leaders

• 6 assists from No. 13 J.J. Frazier (2017) among UGA’s best season tallies

• 9 assists from No. 12 Sundiata Gaines (2008) among UGA’s best season tallies

• 10 assists from No. 11 Gerald Crosby (1985) among UGA’s best season tallies

• 11 assists from No. 10 Pertha Robinson (1996) among UGA’s best season tallies

• 14 assists from No. 8 G.G. Smith (1997 & 1998) among UGA’s best season tallies

• 15 assists from No. 7 Rashad Wright (2003) among UGA’s best season tallies

• 16 assists from No. 6 Willie Anderson (1987) among UGA’s best season tallies

• 35 assists from UGA’s single season record held by Pertha Robinson (1995)

• 2 assists from No. 18 Gino Gianfrancesco among UGA’s career leaders

• 20 assists from No. 17 Bernard Davis among UGA’s career leaders

Series History With Tennessee

Tennessee owns a 96-61 lead in the all-time series between UGA and UT, including a 59-16 advantage in Knoxville.

In the most recent meeting last Jan. 15 in Athens, a pair of 20-point outings from Anthony Edwards and Rayshaun Hammonds paced Georgia in an impressive 80-63 win over the Vols.

Georgia seized control midway through the first half. An Edwards 3-pointer at the 13:14 mark sparked a 26-7 surge that put the Bulldogs up 34-19 with 7:31 remaining in the period.

Georgia pushed its advantage to 20 points with just under a minute left before the intermission and never allowed the Vols closer than 16 points in the second stanza.

Georgia’s last trip to Knoxville was on Jan. 5, 2019 when No. 3 Tennessee used an early 11-0 run to gain distance en route to a 96-50 victory in both team’s SEC opener.

The Volunteers led 14-12 before going on the 11-0 surge that gave them a 25-12 lead with 9:17 remaining in the opening half.

Derek Ogbeide was a bright spot for Georgia, scoring 17 points by connecting on 6-of-9 shots from the floor and 5-of-7 trips to the free-throw line. 

Scouting The Vols

Tennessee, the preseason pick to win the Southeastern Conference title this season, improved to 13-4 overall and 6-4 in SEC play with last Saturday’s win over Kentucky at Rupp Arena.

The Vols, who are the only SEC team to be ranked the entire season, are No. 16 and No. 15 in this week’s AP and USA Today polls, respectively. Tennessee’s highest ranking so far was No. 6 in both ledgers on Jan. 18.

Tennessee, like Georgia, is extremely balanced on the offensive end. 

The Vols have seven players averaging between 10.5-8.4 ppg this season. Victor Bailey Jr. and Jaden Springer sport team-high averages of 10.5 ppg, while John Fulkerson and Keon Johnson contribute 10.4 ppg and 10.1 ppg, respectively. 

Last Time Out

Sophomores Sahvir Wheeler and Toumani Camara both made big plays to lead Georgia to a 73-70 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday.

Wheeler scored a game-high 16 points on an 8-of-10 shooting effort from the floor and also dished out nine assists. Camara chipped in 10 points, a game-high eight boards and swatted away Vanderbilt’s potential game-winning layup in the closing seconds.

Following eight ties and four lead changes in the first 15 minutes, Georgia used a 14-4 run over the final 3:31 of the first half to grab a 44-37 lead at the break.

The Commodores tied the game five times in the second half, but the Bulldogs answered on each occasion. 

A Scotty Pippen Jr. layup with 44 seconds remaining tied the score at 70-70. A Camara free throw at the 15-second mark but Georgia back on top. He then swatted away, Pippen’s layup with five ticks on the clock, gathered the rebound and passed to Justin Kier before falling out of bounds.

Kier was fouled with 2.1 second left and converted on both free throws. Camara then tipped away Vanderbilt’s attempted court-length inbounds pass, which caused time to expire before the Commodores could do anything other than wildly heave the ball toward their basket.

Vols Are Latest First Ranked Foe Ever For Bulldogs…Sort Of

Wednesday’s game against No. 16/15 Tennessee will be Georgia’s latest initial outing against a ranked opponent ever…in seasons when the Bulldogs have faced a ranked team.

The contest with the Vols will be Georgia’s first against a ranked foe this season, coming in the Bulldogs’ 19th game on Feb. 10.

Previously, the latest the Bulldogs advanced into a season before facing a ranked opponent was the 17th outing of the 2007-08 and 1963-64 campaign. Those contests were versus No. 3 Tennessee on Jan. 26, 2008 and against No. 4 Kentucky on Feb. 6, 1964.

There are numerous seasons prior to that when the Bulldogs did not faced a ranked opponent at all, the most recent of those being 60 years ago in 1960-61.

This One Is Hard To Believe 

Wednesday’ game will be Georgia’s 12th SEC outing. It will be only the fourth contest in those dozen outings that includes a fourth- or fifth-year senior who has played their entire career at that school. 

To date, only Vanderbilt (Clevon Brown, Maxwell Evans and Isaiah Rice) and two-time foe Ole Miss (Devontae Shuler) have had players who met that criteria.

Not only does Georgia not have such a senior, neither have any of the Bulldogs’ other league foes to date – Mississippi State, LSU, Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, Florida and South Carolina.

Volunteers John Fulkerson and Yves Pons join the aforementioned group of one Rebel and three Dores.

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