Vols pound Dawgs

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Georgia's 2-1 start in the SEC season highlighted some of the things it has developed in Dennis Felton's four-plus years at the helm, specifically a commitment to defense and a feel for the game.

Saturday night's trip here showed in sharp relief what the Bulldogs still don't have, enough athletic ability or scoring acumen, and it proved why those two ingredients trump all.

Third-ranked Tennessee possesses both in excess and used them to dominate Georgia 85-69 in front of 21,099 fans in Thomson-Boling Arena.

"There is no doubt they have a lot of athletes and there is no doubt they forced a lot of turnovers, but I just felt like we didn't play well at all," Felton said. "I thought most of it had to do with us being soft. We came out and played soft. I'm really, really disappointed."

The Volunteers (17-2, 4-1 SEC) also have an abundance of Smiths, which also played a role because their ultra-athletic, three-guard lineup of Ramar Smith, Tyler Smith and JaJuan Smith overmatched the Bulldogs all evening as Tennessee forced 16 turnovers in the first half on the way to a 44-23 lead at the break.

"A lot of guys seemed like they came in timid, a little shaken by the atmosphere maybe," Georgia junior Billy Humphrey said. "I'm not really sure what to fault it to, but we've just got to take care of the basketball better."

Felton spit out the word "soft" nearly a dozen times in his five-minute postgame briefing and applied it to nearly every aspect of his team's game. Georgia, which finished with 21 turnovers, hit 40.6 percent of its shots and allowed Tennessee to shoot 57.1 percent from the floor.

"We had far too many times when we just weren't strong and decisive with the ball and didn't play with authority," Felton said. "I would have loved to see what kind of game it could have been had we not turned the ball over 16 times in the first half."

The final score was as close as the Bulldogs were in game's last 25 minutes. The rout was so complete that Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl was able to get his son Steven, a walk-on who has played three minutes this season in for the game's final two minutes.

"A team like Vanderbilt, one of the top-ranked teams in the country came in here and got beat by 20 (so) that possibility exists when you are playing against such a terrific team, but I was disappointed," Felton said. "I felt like we were soft to start the game and didn't give ourselves a chance."

Tennessee senior guard Chris Lofton scored 20 points in the first half as Tennessee built and then coasted home to finish with 27, thanks mostly to his 7-of-13 shooting effort from 3-point range.

Georgia got 20 points from Sundiata Gaines and 15 each from Dave Bliss and Humphrey but 36 of those 50 came in the second half, when the Volunteers gave up on their defense in an attempt to add more highlight-reel dunks to their game tape.

Georgia entered the game last in the SEC in assist-to-turnover ratio and cemented that ranking by dishing out only 11 assists against the Volunteers' 26.

The Bulldogs (11-6, 2-2) are now 0-3 on the road this season. They travel to Columbia, S.C. to play South Carolina on Wednesday.

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