Recapping Georgia vs. Tennessee in the 2nd Round of the SEC Tournament.
With big man Yante Maten medically cleared to play in UGA’s first SEC tourney game, the Dawgs were ready to face the Volunteers in what was practically a home game for Tennessee in Nashville. While E’Torrion Wilridge started, Maten would enter the game at 17:45 of the first half with the score only 2-0 and pick up an immediate offensive foul. Maten hit a 3 moments later, and UGA led 5-0 at the first TV timeout at 15:58. Unfortunately, the Dawgs could not hold the Vols scoreless, and the teams began trading baskets and turnovers. At the 4:00 mark, UGA had already accumulated 10 turnovers. Though UT was very effective inside in its first game against UGA, in which freshman forward Grant Williams lit up the scoreboard for 30 points, the Dawgs deployed a mixture of 2-3 and 3-2 zone defenses. The zone worked, Williams was ineffective, and Tenn was forced to shoot from the perimeter. UT didn’t shoot well in the first half, but neither did the Dawgs. The Vols shot just well enough to garner a 1 point lead in half marred by too many turnovers, sloppy offense and poor shooting.
The second half opened with 2 nice assists from Wilridge to Derek Ogbeide in the post, followed by a basket from Frazier, to give the Dawgs a 32-27 lead. In the first 3 minutes of the half, the Vols were 0-5 with 1 turnover, largely due to the effectiveness of the Dawgs’ zone defense. In a turnabout from the first meeting between the teams when Maten got in serious foul trouble, the Vols’ Williams picked up his 3rd foul early in the second half. UGA held UT off for the next few minutes until an awful back court violation called against the Dawgs allowed UT to pull within 2 points. Minutes later, the Vols took the lead 48-47 after a pair of free throws near the under 8 minute TV timeout.
Uncharacteristically, JJ Frazier was unable to put the Dawgs on his back in this game, but he hit a number of free throws to help keep the Vols at bay and had a double-double with 10 big rebounds. UGA was unable to take a lead greater than 3 points in the last 7 minutes of the game. Both teams missed shots, and neither could make a decisive play to put the game away. With the Dawgs up 1 point 57-56, the Vols tried to trap JJ to force a turnover, but JJ split the trap and drew a foul; he calmly knocked down 2 more free throws. 59-56. UT lost the ball out of bounds, but UGA turned the ball over with 1:08 left. The Vols missed; JJ missed. The Vols had the ball with 38.1 seconds left and went straight into the post to Williams, who muscled Maten, and drew a foul with 22.9 seconds left. Williams made 1 of 2 free throws, but the Vols fouled Mike Edwards on the rebound.
With both teams in the double bonus, Edwards went to the line for 2 free throws for what could have been game-winning free throws. Edwards missed the first, and the Vols called a timeout to ice him. The strategy worked, as Edwards, who has shot free throws very well since the first game of the season, missed the second badly. With only a few seconds left, the Vols were stymied by the Dawg defense and could not get the shot they wanted. The ball ended up in post Admiral Schofield’s hands on the perimeter with 3 seconds for a desperation 3 – that missed badly. Williams got the rebound and tried to get a shot off at the end of the game, but Turtle Jackson made a great block to preserve the game.
Though he did not shoot well from the floor, JJ had 17 pts (8-8 from the line), an astonishing 10 rebs and 4 assists. In his return, Yante Maten had 12 pts and 5 rebs. Freshman point guard Jordan Bone led the Vols with 14 points and five assists, while fellow UT guard Lamonte Turner had 13 points. UGA’s nemesis in the first game, Grant Williams, went scoreless for much of the game, not scoring until 6:48 was left in the game and finishing with 6 pts and 2 rebs. Georgia out-rebounded by Tennessee 39-29, and out-scored the Vols in the paint 24-14. UGA’s 15 turnovers were offset by 43.5% shooting and a defense that held the Vols to 32.8% shooting for the game. The Dawgs reward – a third date with the Kentucky Wildcats.