With Kentucky holding the Gators at bay last night in Rupp Arena, four teams found themselves atop the SEC East leaderboard with three losses, in a race that appears destined to go to the finish. For their NCAA Tournament fate and for the conference race, Tennessee needed to beat the teams on their schedule they're supposed to beat, something they failed to accomplish at Auburn.
Tonight, the Vols used their best players doing what they do best early - Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism each scoring 11 in the first half - and simply overwhelmed a Georgia team that falls to 0-9 in SEC play. The Georgia program may be more interested in the ongoing coaching search than the rest of this season, something Tennessee fans can relate to.
It was good news all around for the Vols: JP Prince again filled the stat sheet with 11 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. The team shot 82% at the free throw line. And Brian Williams showed some great touch inside, finishing with 10 points in 13 minutes.
We even had our first Ryan Childress sighting of the season, with the senior putting in two free throws late. It's a 31 point win where the other team scored under 50, so even if the fans in attendance continue to be denied free Chick-Fil-A, there's plenty to be pleased about tonight across the board.
Every win will be precious from here on out in the SEC East chase, and Tennessee gets another one they should win on Saturday, at home against Vanderbilt. Because there's no one we'd rather see on Valentine's Day than Kevin Stallings.
But tonight's win also marked Tennessee's 10th straight over Georgia in basketball, an impressive feat despite the Dawgs' current struggles. At 15-8 and 6-3 in the SEC, they may not all be this easy again...but as long as they continue to find ways to get it done, Tennessee is still very much in control of its own fate.