Here’s how it happened.
Tennessee opened this one on a 5-0 run. The Vols came out with energy, getting a three ball from Admiral Schofield to get going. But Georgia wasn’t interested in rolling over. A 9-0 run from the Bulldogs cooled the crowd at Thompson-Boling Arena down.
The Vols went through an offensive drought after their hot start, allowing Georgia to build a bit of a lead. It was 13-8 before Grant Williams got going. Grant went on a 5-0 run of his own, which tied the game up at 13 all.
Georgia had another answer though, manufacturing an 8-0 run to get back in control. It was Admiral Schofield continuing to fire away, keeping Tennessee in this one early on with the long range game.
However, both Williams and Schofield got into hot water with two personal fouls in the first half. That created a problem for Rick Barnes, who saw his team falling behind late in the first half.
Georgia shot 7-12 from three point range in the first half, nailing tough shot after tough shot. Jordan Bone hit a long three to send it to halftime, cutting the Georgia lead to 42-34.
Tennessee was playing fine on the offensive end, but they were getting scorched from deep. Surely Georgia couldn’t keep that pace up though, right?
When in doubt, feed Grant Williams. That’s been the plan all year and Tennessee went back to that out of the break. Williams got some work done down low, scoring and forcing the third personal foul on Georgia star Yante Maten.
But things got tougher when Georgia started double-teaming Grant. Williams kept pounding and drawing contact, but the calls weren’t coming.
Tennessee’s defense was much better out of halftime, forcing turnovers and and playing outstanding on-ball defense. That defense got the crowd back in it as the Vols slowly closed the gap.
It was a 45-42 game at the under 15 mark of the second half. An Admiral slam cut the lead to just one point. Georgia had gone over six minutes without a bucket and Thompson-Boling was ready to explode.
After trading a couple of buckets, Lamonte Turner tied the game at 49 with a contested three.
Just as Tennessee had turned the game around, Georgia started to gain an advantage on the boards. It was second and sometimes third chances that were keeping the Bulldogs alive.
Finally, Lamonte Turner put the Vols ahead with another three ball. It was a 55-53 lead for the Vols with under six minutes to play.
Tennessee had all the momentum at this point as the Georgia offense sputtered. Georgia would not fade, however. The two teams traded tough buckets down low until Yante Maten was fouled shooting a three. That foul was Grant’s fourth of the game.
Maten made just one of three, however. That was enough to restore a Georgia lead at 58-57.
Disaster struck after that, as Grant Williams was called for his fifth foul on a spectacularly bad call. Williams was on the floor and a Georgia player fell on top of him. Yante Maten immediately hit a three at the other end to follow.
Somehow, Lamonte Turner answered with an off-balance three of his own. Tennessee was back to within one point. They got a stop and had a chance to take another lead with 1:20 to play.
It was Jordan Bowden streaking to the basket and drawing the shooting foul with 1:01 to play. Bowden hit two from the line, giving the Vols a 62-61 lead. Tennessee got the stop at the other end, then Schofield scored again from the post to give Tennessee a 64-61 lead.
Georgia missed their three point attempt, ending the Bulldogs’ hope. Tennessee found a way to win, beating Georgia 66-61.
Schofield led the way tonight for Tennessee, scoring 23 points. Williams scored 22 points before fouling out.
The Vols won’t play again until next Friday night, where they will play as the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament.