January 29, 2012
5:00 PM EST
TV: ESPN2 / ESPN3
Internet Audio: Lady Vols Network
Live Stats: GameTracker
15-5 (6-1 SEC)
16-5 (5-3 SEC)
Tennessee is fresh off their blow-off-some-steam win against Alabama, while Georgia is stinging from a 68-48 loss to Vanderbilt in Nashville. Both teams have had struggles as of late, though Georgia is a team that Tennessee tends to show up against. In conference terms, this game gives Tennessee a chance to effectively separate themselves and Kentucky from the rest of the field, while Georgia needs the win if they want any hope of a top 2 finish in the conference. With three teams tied for third in conference, a loss could potentially drop Georgia to 5th, placing them at risk of not earning a bye in the SEC tournament.
|G/F||Anne Marie Armstrong||Jr||6-3||11.8||6.0||3.3|
The Bulldogs may very well have the second most talented roster in the conference, but suffer their own unique brand of the same struggle that Tennessee faces - a seeming disconnect between talent and performance. Where Tennessee lacks cohesiveness, Georgia often fails to play inspired ball. A very precision-oriented approach to basketball often appears to lack the energy and emotion that teams like Tennessee and Kentucky attempt to infuse in their game. If Georgia can muster the emotional energy at home against Tennessee, they can make a serious game of this. Likewise, if Tennessee can't find their stride and stay in form, they can open the door for Georgia.
Yet like many games between Summitt and Landers, it appears that both variables would need to swing in Georgia's favor for this game to become the upset they desire. And Tennessee has played well against Georgia for a few years in a row, particularly off the efforts of this year's senior class. It's a group of players that laid eggs against Notre Dame and Stanford, but have played brilliantly against Georgia over the last few years.
The key matchups may very well come when players come off the bench. Georgia's rotation is effectively eight deep, and primarily a six-man with only two players that pull more than spot duty. The depth isn't as well developed as Tennessee's, which could become an issue if this game plays at the higher tempo that Tennessee will likely attempt to enforce. Likewise, if Georgia's starters run into early foul trouble, there really isn't a lot in the way of options. Meanwhile, Tennessee has eight players that could conceivably start (if Burdick's recent performance is any indication) and another two who can play meaningful relief time (Williams and Harrison), and even Brianna Bass is showing great promise as a role player lately.
The key is to keep this from tilting Georgia's way in the first half. In a previous life, Tennessee made a living off of second half comebacks after sloppy first halves. This year, the comebacks haven't always been there. But if Tennessee has a lead or a tie at halftime, they stand a very good chance at pulling away in the second half after wearing out their opponent. Tennessee needs to play solid, controlled ball in the first half. While running Georgia out of the gym would be great in the opening 20 minutes, it's not necessary. Solid play in the first will set up a chance to pull away in the second.
It wouldn't be a huge shock for Georgia to win, but it's not very likely. Georgia is a team that Tennessee is well built to beat.
Prediction: 82 - 65 Tennessee
BassWatch™: 4 minutes left in the first half