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Georgia Bulldogs vs. Tennessee Volunteers Opponent Preview

The Vols kick off SEC play on Saturday

NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Tennessee
Tennessee was all smiles after their last meeting with Georgia.
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend marks the start of SEC play for the Tennessee Volunteers. Aside from an early-season loss and Lamonte Turner’s injury, things couldn’t have started better for head coach Rick Barnes and his team.

The Vols split the 2017 series with the Georgia Bulldogs. Tennessee lost the first meeting of the season, but rallied back from a nine point deficit to win a share of the SEC regular season title.

Saturday’s matchup should be a good one as Tennessee looks to notch back-to-back victories over the Bulldogs since the 2009-2010 seasons.

Conference Record and Standings

  • Southeastern Conference
  • 8-4 (0-0) t-10th place
  • Won last three games

Impact Players

F Nicolas Claxton 14.4 PPG, 44.3 FG%, 10.2 REB, 69.4 FT%, 28.0% 3PT, 3.1 BLK, 29.3 MIN

Even though Claxton isn’t Georgia’s biggest scoring threat, he will most likely be the biggest problem for the Vols.

Tennessee struggled with bigs in 2017, there’s no denying that. While they’ve improved in that area this season, it remains to be seen if they can sustain the improvement or if the Bulldogs can game plan based off of Claxton’s abilities.

Kyle Alexander should matchup pretty well against Claxton, but don’t be surprised if he gets the best of Alexander every now and then.

F Rayshaun Hammonds: 15.0 PPG, 54.7 FG%, 83.0 FT%, 46.4% 3PT, 6.9 REB, 25.8 MIN

The 6-foot-8 235-pound sophomore has found his groove this season. He can do it all. He leads the team in scoring after averaging just 6.7 points per game as a freshman.

Hammonds is second on the team in three point percentage and rebounds. When the Bulldogs are in transition, Hammonds will be the one the Vols need to keep an eye on.

Even though he has improved tremendously since last year, he is still prone to mistakes. This is evidenced by a team-leading 2.2 turnovers per game. Look for Tennessee’s defense to keep that stat going.

G Tyree Crump: 11.2 PPG, 47.1 FG%, 83.9 FT%, 43.1% 3PT, 2.4 REB, 1.8 AST, 1.6 TO, 0.6 STL, 19.9 MIN

It gets a bit tricky with Crump. Georgia really doesn’t have a true point guard presence.

While explosive, he has yet to put it all together at the point. Inconsistency has defined 2018 for the junior guard. He has six games where he has averaged just six points per game, but then the other six games he has averaged 16.3 points per game.

If Tennessee can keep him off the charity stripe and away from the three-point line, then Crump should be rendered ineffective on Saturday.

Most Recent

Georgia put the smackdown on UMass with a 92-71 win on December 30th. It was the Bulldogs’ third straight win and they have now won five of their last six.

Claxton continued his impressive season, leading the team with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks. Hammonds added 18 of his own and Crump went for 14 as the team shot 53.8% from the field and outrebounded the Minutemen 43-27.

The Bulldogs’ size was simply too much for UMass.

Game Outlook

While it’s exciting to finally start conference play, this should be a very tough matchup for the Vols.

Not only does Georgia own them historically (3-10 since 2010), but they have a lot of size that can cause trouble for Tennessee.

But they are playing in Thompson-Boling arena, which should be a major advantage. As long as the Vols continue the play that we’ve seen, everything should be ok on Saturday.