Due to some anomaly in the space-time continuum, I’m certain, one of the two teams in Saturday’s matchup between UT and South Carolina walked away victorious. In what was one of the poorest played games of basketball I can remember watching recently (I hear that the Junior Pro teams that played in TBA after the Vols and Gamecocks put on a much better show), Tennessee got its 10th victory of the season 56-55 over USC. Next, the fellers in orange travel down to Athens to take on the Georgia Bulldogs on Wednesday in a game that is going to feature one of the best players the Vols, and we as fans, will see all season. Let’s look at UGA and what we can expect from them, what we learned about Tennessee in their most recent contest, and I’ll make a prediction for how I think this one will shake out.
Do The Basketball Fans Bark?
- School: University of Georgia
- Location: Athens, Georgia
- Mascot: Bulldogs
- Conference: SEC
- Coach: Tom Crean (2nd season)
- 2019-2020 Record: 10-5 (0-2)
- 2018-2019 Record: 11-21 (2-16)
- Last Game Against Tennessee: 1/5/2019: Tennessee blows UGA out of the water in TBA 96-50 in front of 22,000.
- Notable Former Basketball Player: Dominique Wilkins (Basketball Hall of Famer, 9x All-Star, 7x All-NBA w/ Career Averages of 24.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.5 assists)
Edwards and Co.
The Bulldogs actually have quite a bit of talent once you watch them on film, but the clear “one-man-show” is 6’5” Shooting Guard Anthony Edwards. Edwards is the best recruit in the history of Bulldog basketball and is projected by some experts to be the number one overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Edwards is fun to watch, and if you do watch him you can see why so many NBA teams would want him on their roster. He does have some weaknesses, though. First, his outside shooting leaves quite a bit to be desired. He is capable, shooting 31%, but he isn’t going to beat any teams from 3. Secondly, he is shooting under 70% from the charity stripe. However, Edwards’ ability to attack the basket and his defense both look pretty elite to me, and that is where we can expect him to hurt the Vols. Like I said, he’ll be a delight to watch as a basketball fan, but a pain in the collective backsides of the Vols/Vol Fans on Wednesday.
Another player to not lose sight of is Junior Forward Rayshaun Hammonds. Hammonds is a 6’9” 4-man that can really control the glass. I, for one, am always wary of our opponent’s skilled big men because of how limited we are down low. Hammonds isn’t the biggest or most skilled post player the Vols have seen this year, but he is one of the more athletic. Athletic big-men can get undersized big-men (such as John Fulkerson, Yves Pons, and Olivier Nkamhoua) into foul trouble with the quickness. If we can prevent him from getting a ton of offensive boards and getting to the free throw line, the Vols’ chance to win will increase dramatically. Also, one more name to note is Sahvir Wheeler, a freshman guard who usually comes off of the bench for the Bulldogs, but has been very productive and may even sneak into the starting lineup.
What We Learned Against South Carolina
In short; nothing useful. Just kidding… kinda. We did see that Santiago Vescovi is a very welcome addition to a team in need of an offensive spark. John Fulkerson continues to give his absolute all for Tennessee. Drew Pember is going to get smoked on defense by most smaller/faster players until he eats a few ribeyes, but also that he has a silky stroke. Pons is still ready to block any shot that any player in either hemisphere throws up.
But we saw something else that I think is more important; the Vols overcame an absolute train wreck of a performance from their most talented player (Jordan Bowden: 1 for 17 FG [5.9%], 1 for 12 3PT [8.3%], 6 points, 2 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 turnovers) and defeated an SEC team. Why is that important and not sad? It shows me that a semi-productive (10 points, a couple assists and a steal or two) Bowden can help this team make the NCAA tournament. Sure, South Carolina is a middle-of-the-road SEC team, but most teams in the league this year are. While I see very few indications that Bowden’s slump is over, eventually it will be. When it is, we have a better chance of reaching that (what I consider to be) magic number (20) and getting an at-large bid.
There are a number of factors working against the Vols in this one. First on that list is the fact that Anthony Edwards presents a match-up problem Tennessee is yet to have faced, and that is a truly elite college player. We have seen some very good players against teams like Washington and Memphis, etc., but none (in my opinion) on the level of Edwards.
Also, this game is in Stegeman Coliseum, or “The Stege-Saurus” as I like to call that dilapidated hole. The Vols have lost three in-a-row in Athens. Furthermore, I remember being about twelve years old and watching the Vols play the Bulldogs in Stegeman (on television) with my since-deceased uncle, a former member of the University of Tennessee’s basketball team. I remember him commenting “I really just don’t like that gym”. That has always been good enough of a reason for me to not like or trust it. I say the Vols lose this one 75-62.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. While I don’t think the Vols will pull this one out, I love being wrong when I pick against them! I am still holding out hope for this season, and you should, too! Anyway, for minute to minute news concerning all aspects of all Volunteer sports, be sure to check out MoreImportantIssues on Twitter (@More_Issues), as well as listening to the podcast on any of the various podcast platforms! Trust me, Landon and Caleb won’t let you down If you’re looking for quality Big Orange talk with a laid-back attitude. Until we meet again, this is Dakota Robertson saying God Bless and Go Vols!
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