No. 4 Tennessee looks to continue its recent dominance over visiting Georgia in Southeastern Conference play on Wednesday night at Knoxville, Tenn.
The Volunteers (16-3, 6-1 SEC), who have defeated the Bulldogs in four of the teams’ past five meetings dating to March 3, 2018, are coming off a dominating, 77-56 win at LSU on Saturday.
Georgia (13-6, 3-3) dropped its second straight game with an 85-82 setback against visiting Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Tennessee cruised against the Tigers for its seventh win in the past eight games.
The Volunteers jumped out to a 15-7 advantage midway through the first half before increasing their lead to 39-22 entering halftime. Tennessee led by as many as 27 in the second half.
The Volunteers converted the Tigers’ 19 turnovers into 33 points, while LSU scored just seven points off Tennessee’s eight miscues.
Tennessee’s Josiah-Jordan James had a game-high 22 points to go along with seven rebounds, while Zakai Zeigler had 12 points and a game-high 10 assists. Julian Phillips and Tyreke Key added 10 points apiece.
“I told these guys that we are a good basketball team right now but we need to get a lot better,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “We all have to get better. Coaches have to get better. Players have to get better. There is a lot of basketball left, and we cannot stay where we are now.”
Santiago Vescovi averages a team-high 12.5 points per game to go along with 3.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists for the Volunteers, while Zeigler averages 10.6 points and a team-high 4.8 assists per game. Olivier Nkamhoua puts up 10.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, with Phillips chipping in 10.3 points and a team-high 5.5 rebounds per game.
Georgia came up short against the Commodores after Jabri Abdur-Rahim’s 3-pointer from the top of the key clanged off the back of the rim and bounced away as time expired.
Abdur-Rahim scored a career-high 21 points, while teammate Terry Roberts chipped in 15 points, six rebounds and a game-high six assists. Kario Oquendo finished with 13 points, while Braelen Bridges added 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds for the Bulldogs.
“I feel like offensively, it was never a problem,” Abdur-Rahim said. “We just couldn’t get anything done on the defensive end. We made a bunch of big shots, but every time we made a big shot, they made a bigger one to come back right at us.”
The Bulldogs trimmed Vanderbilt’s 77-65 advantage with 4:51 remaining to 83-82 following Oquendo’s three free throws with five seconds left. But the Commodores’ Trey Thomas hit a pair of foul shots with four seconds left to provide the final margin.
Vanderbilt shot 10 of 21 (47.6 percent) from 3-point range, while Georgia hit 9 of 27 (33.3 percent) from beyond the arc.
“We weren’t sharp enough defensively,” Georgia coach Mike White said. “We weren’t connected enough to beat a team of this caliber in this league that shoots it the way they did.
“How do you give up 85 at home?”
Roberts averages team-highs in points (15.9), assists (4.2) and steals (1.7). Oquendo is the Bulldogs’ only other double-figure scorer at 13.4 points per game to go with 3.4 rebounds.
–Field Level Media