The SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament got underway yesterday, with Mississippi St crushing LSU in what most assume was Johnny Jones’ last game as the Tigers head coach. While the night cap saw Missouri give another game to departing head coach Kim Anderson by topping Auburn in overtime.
Today’s action kicks off at 1 this afternoon in Nashville when Georgia and Tennessee square off for the second time this season. The Dawgs squeaked past the Vols in Knoxville a month ago in a game that saw Yante Maten play sparingly with foul trouble. With Maten likely available now that he’s been cleared from a knee sprain but far from ready to go all out for 30+ minutes, that experience will be helpful.
Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes got the Vols slightly improved in his second season in the hills, but still has a ways to go before they start competing for NCAA appearances. Georgia meanwhile put their hopes of dancing next weekend in serious doubt with a loss at Arkansas, so a run in the SEC Tournament will be the only possible invite left on the table.
Freshman PF Grant Williams went off for 30, while senior wing and leading scorer Robert Hubbs, III was the only other one in double digits at 10 for Tennessee in their loss back on February 11th. 6’10 sophomore Kyle Alexander will likely start next to Williams inside, while freshman Jordan Bowen will open the game alongside Hubbs in the backcourt. Sophomore Shembari Phillips, out of Wheeler High School in Atlanta, has been joining them of late in the starting lineup and sophomore wing Admiral Schofield has been an excellent 6th man all season averaging over 10 pts per game in SEC play despite never starting any of their 18 games. Freshman guards Jordan Bone, Kwe Parker, and Lamonte Turner also could see action off the bench, and senior big man Lew Evans adds another big man to the rotation.
Georgia can hopefully take advantage of that lack of size, as Derek Ogbeide had one of his 9 double digit rebounding games (out of 18) in conference play vs. the Vols. And the red hot JJ Frazier lit up Tennessee for 29 and has averaged 29.6 pts per game over his last five contests. Freshman G Tyree Crump added 13 off the bench, while Juwan Parker tossed in 10 during a solid all around night.
Frazier, Parker, and Ogbeide will certainly start this afternoon. Whether Fox is comfortable letting Maten start or sticks with sophomore Toe Wilridge remains to be seen, although expect both to play. Fellow sophomore Mike Edwards will join junior Pape Diatta off the bench up front, while sophomore Turtle Jackson and freshman Jordan Harris join Crump as perimeter options alongside Frazier and Parker.
Mark Fox’s job is reportedly safe after a difficult season, but another win never hurts. The winner this afternoon gets perennial SEC Tourney favorite Kentucky tomorrow at 1.
GAME & BROADCAST INFO
- Opponent: Tennessee Volunteers
- Records: No. 8 seed Georgia (18-13, 9-9) vs. No. 9 seed Tennessee (16-15, 8-10 SEC)
- Rankings: Georgia NR, Tennessee NR
- Tipoff: Thursday, March 9 at 1:00 p.m. ET
- Location: Bridgestone Arena (19,395) in Nashville, Tenn.
- TV: SEC Network (Joe Tessitore, PBP; Sean Farnham, analyst; Kaylee Hartung, reporter)
- Video Stream: WatchESPN.com
- Radio: Georgia Bulldog Network by IMG (Scott Howard, PBP; Chuck Dowdle, Color; Tony Schiavone, Producer) Flagship: AM 750 (Atlanta)
- Flagship: WSB AM 750 | Affiliates
- Audio Stream: Georgiadogs.com | Mobile
- Live Stats: StatBroadcast