ATHENS – Georgia basketball has little margin for error on Wednesday night as it takes its winning streak in three pre-season games against SEC favorites Tennessee.
Vols # 15 have the bigger one , longer, deeper, more experienced and more talented team. Because of this, the Big Orange is a favorite of 12 1/2 points at 8pm. Tip (TV: ESPN2) at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville.
« They have a Hall of Fame trainer in Rick Barnes and they have great staff and culture, » said UGA trainer Tom Crean.
“This Tennessee team has enormous depth, strength, speed and speed. They can beat you in many different ways, but that starts with their relentless pressure on the defense. “
Georgia, with eight newcomers including three graduate transfers, has its first three-game streak in four seasons following recent wins against Auburn, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.
In order for the Bulldogs to upset the Vols in any way, they must continue the hot shooting they enjoyed during the winning streak (53.8 percent off the ground, 46.9 percent out of three).
That is a challenge, as Crean alluded to. Tennessee ranks sixth in goal defense in the NCAA, allowing only 59.6 points before the game. According to KenPom.com metrics, the Vols also top the NCAA for custom defensive efficiency.
Tennessee has reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Yves Pons, and 6-9 veteran John Fulkerson, who is on the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 watchlist.
Another concern of the Bulldogs was their propensity for offensive sales, which at 17.3 per game ranks 335th in the nation out of 340 teams at 17, 3 per game – which made up for the UGA’s 17th place in the nation of forced sales (16.89).
Crean, who staged an 80-63 surprise against Tennessee last season, knows better than anyone, how important control of the ball will be.
« It all starts with the ball not turning over and the ball really stopping when it crosses, » said Crean.
Tennessee scored an 82-71 road win in Kentucky last Saturday, receiving 27 points from newcomer Keon Johnson and another 23 points from newcomer Jaden Springer. The pair were part of a four-man line-up that wiped out a 10-point lead in the second half.
But Barnes, who is 2-5 in Tennessee against Georgia, made it clear that the Vols’ identity will not change / p> « We have enough people who have five or six people a night who can do damage at the end of the offensive, » Barnes said. “And we expect these six and seven guys, on whom we rely heavily, to do what they’re supposed to do on the defensive.”
Wheeler ranks fourth in the with 7.4 assists per game Nation (leads the SEC) and has made a 16-point, 9-assist bet against Vanderbilt. « Offensively, they can bet numbers on you, » said Barnes. « I think Tom (Crean) will try again to attack certain situations with what he sees and believes to use.
» They’re very efficient when they transition. Your ball screens and actions are because of the The speed and pace they get from the point position is really good. «
» Georgia is 4-1 in games that were decided by four points or less, including 3-0 in this season’s SEC game. </ Last season the Bulldogs were 5-3 in such games, this combined 9-4 record is a dramatic difference from 2018-19, when Georgia was 0-6 in such games and every setback occurred for the NCAA tournament teams . "
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