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Georgia Bulldogs v. Tennessee Volunteers: The Haphazard Ill-Informed Roundball Preview

Georgia has proven it can beat teams with top tier talent (UK) and they've also proven they can win on the road (GT).

Dan Quirk (January 15, 2011)

Mark Fox’s unranked Georgia Bulldogs return to the Classic City from Oxford after notching their fourth win in five true road games this season and producing one of the best rival comment threads ever, arriving in Athens in time to host the Tennessee Volunteers on Tuesday night. The visiting Vols will be without head coach Bruce Pearl, who is serving an eight-game suspension after being busted for "inappropriate conduct" with high school juniors and reportedly asking them to help cover up his violations. (Apparently, this is old news, but, in my defense, this literally is the first time it’s been mentioned here. Of course, I didn’t make reference to Andy Kennedy’s off-court problems in my last haphazard ill-informed roundball preview, so maybe I should just leave opposing coaches alone, particularly since Coach Fox suggests that Coach Pearl’s absence might not matter much.)

The Hoop Dogs, considered by some to be the best team in the SEC after routing the SEC West team with the best RPI, face a Tennessee squad fresh off of an impressive victory over the selfsame Vanderbilt Commodores who handed the Red and Black the season’s only loss on an opponent’s home court.

Through 17 games, the Big Orange ranked fourth in the league in scoring offense (74.6 points per game) yet last in the conference in scoring defense (69.6 points per game). Tennessee’s 14.5 offensive rebounds per outing are the most in the SEC, and that stat was critical in the Vols’ recent win over Vandy. Georgia will have to improve upon its 24.6 defensive rebounds per contest---ninth in the league through the Bulldogs’ first 16 games---in order to stave off a similar run by Tennessee on Tuesday, though some hope is offered by the fact that, against the Commodores, Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins were in double figures on the boards in the same game for the first time in their careers.

The Volunteers are preparing to face a "hostile environment" in Athens, where they suffered a 78-63 setback a year ago. This is a big game for both teams; although Tennessee has lost six times in its last ten games, the Big Orange’s strength of schedule boosts the visitors’ RPI. Georgia will need this win in order to remain on track for an NCAA Tournament berth.

The Vols, winners of 11 of their last 12 meetings with the Bulldogs, hold an all-time 90-52 edge in the rivalry, but Georgia enjoys a 34-32 advantage over Tennessee in Athens. Tomorrow night’s tip-off in Stegeman Coliseum is set for 7:00 p.m., and the game will be televised on ESPNU.

Go ‘Dawgs!