If you didn't see the game tonight, you might be confused about a couple of things. Yes, that final does include overtime; the regulation number was a Kevin O'Neill-esque 46-46. And yes, Tennessee played good defense: Georgia shot 35.5% from the floor, 2 of 18 from the arc, and turned the ball over 18 times. Those numbers combined with 46 points should be good enough to beat anybody.
But as good as the Vols were on the defensive end yet again, they were just as bad offensively. Just as you should always win when you hold a team to those numbers, you should never win when you yourselves shoot 2 of 16 from the arc, 7 of 14 at the free throw line, and turn the ball over a whopping 20 times. Five assists to twenty turnovers is embarrassing.
So we met in the middle and played overtime. And in overtime, Georgia was two possessions better, and in this game two possessions was a lifetime. The Dawgs got 16 points from Gerald Robinson, and win their first SEC game of the year.
Tennessee falls to 8-10, 1-3 in the SEC, but this one hurts. The Vols were feeling good after routing Florida and playing close with Mississippi State and Kentucky. We were close again tonight, and I suspect we will be every night at this point, but these are the games the Vols have to win to get where they want to go, and to build any kind of consistent momentum.
The Vols were strong inside again tonight: Jeronne Maymon had 12 points and 8 rebounds, and Jarnell Stokes added 11 and 7 in, remember, his second game ever. But here's an issue: Maymon had eight shots, Stokes nine. Trae Golden was strong at times tonight and led the Vols with 16 points, but he took 17 shots and had only one assist. Golden can be good, but now that we can put both Stokes and Maymon out there, he's not our best offensive option. Cameron Tatum also took nine shots. Those shot attempts have to start tilting toward the post players.
And hey, we're all depressed and maybe this game really isn't any more complicated than that the Vols shot 12.5% from the arc and aren't good enough to beat anybody when they do that. We'll find out; hopefully it's the last time we shoot such an atrocious percentage.
As needed to be the case before this game and is still the case now, this team needs to ignore all postseason (NCAA and NIT) conversation and just play the next game. Because it gets no easier: defending National Champion UConn comes to Knoxville on Saturday. I applaud the defensive effort tonight. But this team has to be sharper on offense, and I think really needs to feed the post more and more, or even our best defensive effort won't be enough to push us over the top against anybody.