Tennessee vs Georgia Preview

When last we met:

It’ll be another sellout, this time to open league play. Thought this was interesting:

Before the split last season, the Vols lost two games (one in the SEC Tournament) to Georgia by three total points in 2017. And in 2016, Georgia won 81-72 in Athens.

Mark Fox is out after nine years, Tom Crean in. The Dawgs made three NIT’s and a one-and-done in the NCAA Tournament from 2014-17, but went 18-15 (7-11) last season, Yante Maten’s last.

This is still a huge team. Rayshaun Hammonds, Nicolas Claxton, and Derek Ogbeide go 6’8″, 6’11”, 6’9″. Like Tennessee, they love blocking shots (18th nationally) and don’t eat many on the other end (24th). Their first-shot defense has been pretty good: teams shoot 29.8% from the arc and 43.1% inside it against them.

But the biggest issue for Georgia has been turnovers. The Dawgs give it away on an astounding 22.4% of their possessions, 319th nationally. Georgia averages 15.7 turnovers per game and forces only 11.3. My math says that’s nearly 4.5 extra possessions for the opposition every night. For a Tennessee team that has struggled to create turnovers so far this year, Georgia should be a welcome sight.

One reason why: this is the longest bench I’ve ever seen. Nine players average double digit minutes, a dozen average six or more. Georgia is playing really fast with a new coach and a bunch of different lineups off the bench, which right now is leading to a bunch of turnovers.

It’ll be interesting to see if Georgia’s defense can slow Tennessee’s offense, but the Vols should have the clear advantage on the other end of the floor. Keep an eye on Tyree Crump, a career 32% shooter from the arc who’s incredibly hot at 43.1% so far this year.

KenPom likes the Vols by 15. That would qualify as a good start to league play. 3:30 PM, SEC Network. Go Vols.

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