Now that’s how you open conference play.
Coming into Saturday’s game, there was no doubt that the Tennessee Volunteers struggle when they play the Georgia Bulldogs. Not only did they hold a 3-10 mark since 2010, but the last time the Vols beat the Dawgs in consecutive contests was in 2010.
Tennessee had to rally from a nine-point deficit in the second half in order to win the SEC Championship back in March, but this time, they made sure this game would be wrapped up with no issues.
In Bevo-style fashion, Tennessee wrecked the Bulldogs’ front court all game long en route to a enter here victory that will be sure to put the rest of the conference on alert.
Grant Williams and the Vols came out and made it clear that this was going to be a physical game. Within the first two minutes, Williams had already drawn two fouls while driving to the basket. A three-pointer from Jordan Bone helped Tennessee build a quick 5-2 lead.
And to everyone’s glee, Lamonte Turner took the court close to the 15:00 mark. The SEC’s Sixth Man of the Year had been battling a shoulder injury all season long. It was nice to see him be able to get back on the court.
But Georgia was able to come up with a 6-0 run over the next few minutes to cut the lead to 11-10. Tennessee was playing sloppy on offense and poorly on defense. A foul on UT and two turnovers spurred the run, allowing the Bulldogs to build some momentum.
That momentum was quickly squashed, however, as Tennessee went on an 11-0 run. Georgia didn’t score a single basket in over 4:30 minutes during that span. Before they could blink, the Bulldogs were down 32-14 after trailing by a single point.
The 21-3 run was anchored by stout defense and an insanely efficient offense. Williams continued to make his way to the charity stripe, having ten free throw attempts at one point in the first half.
Tennessee scored on ten straight possessions, made six straight shots, and went 9/12 from the field during the last ten minutes of the first half. The Vols shot 56.7% from the field compared to a putrid 33.3% for Georgia.
The defensive effort from UT showed up in a big way in the stat line beside the shooting percentage. Georgia recorded a 5:7 assist-to-turnover mark in the first half. While a lot of that was from the lack of a true point guard, it is still a testament to solid defensive play when your team can pull that off.
The Bulldogs finished the first half without a single three-point shot and trailed 53-24 heading into halftime. Georgia seemed to be in big trouble and it would be interesting to see if they could make any effective adjustments to help turn the tide in their favor.
Considering that each team registered 35 possessions in the first half, this game had the chance to become a straight-up slaughter in the second half.
Williams continued his torrid scoring pace, draining a three-point shot on the Vols’ first possession of the first half. Ogbeide was able to throw one down in an attempt to gain some momentum and overcome the 30-point deficit.
But the Vols kept coming. Grant Williams kept coming. Georgia’s William Jackson II thought he was going to have an easy bucket until Williams denied him in the most dominant fashion when it comes to a legal block.
Bone was able to take the ball in transition for the easy layup and the Vols now led, 60-26.
Yves Pons got in on the block party later and Tennessee’s lead was about to become a 40-point lead if they didn’t figure something out quick.
Schofield hit another three-pointer to pull the Vols within one point of the heralded 40-point lead. At 71-32 with around 11:20 to play, the writing was on the wall for this one.
Lamonte Turner was able to steal the ball from the Bulldogs’ Nicolas Claxton and was fouled on his way up to the basket. He nailed both of his free throws and the Vols crossed the mark, leading 73-32.
The onslaught continued as Williams found Kyle Alexander streaking down the court for another dunk. Despite leading 77-35, the Vols were not slowing down whatsoever. You would think they were behind considering how hard they were playing.
Tennessee would go on to cruise to a 46-point victory, with a final score of 96-50. They are now (12-1) on the season and (1-0) in conference play. Next up is a trip to Columbia, Missouri to take on the Tigers (9-3). Tip-off is scheduled for 7PM EST on Tuesday, January, 8th.