Though perhaps falling somewhat short of playing up to that comparison, Hayes scored 23 points, but it was Ezra Williams' 3-point stroke that made the difference as No. 19 Georgia took an 81-76 victory over Tennessee Wednesday night.
After being held to two points in the first half, Williams scored a season-high 29 points while sinking his first six 3-point attempts of the second half.
In his last two home games, Williams has made 13 of 18 3-point attempts. He was 7-for-7 on 3-pointers while scoring 25 points in an 89-63 win over Louisiana State on Jan. 11, but Wednesday night's game provided a far more difficult test for Georgia (11-4 overall, 3-1 Southeastern Conference).
The depth provided by Hayes and Williams overwhelmed the Tennessee attack which provided less support for its top scorer, Ron Slay, who matched Williams' 29 points.
"It's good when you've got two guys out there on the win you can get the ball to and you know they can do something with it,'' said Georgia point guard Rashad Wright.
Hayes and Williams each rank among the SEC's top five scoring leaders.
Tennessee (9-5 overall, 2-3 SEC) led 34-27 at halftime as Williams, guarded primarily by Jon Higgins, made only one field goal in the first 20 minutes.
"Higgins is a great defender; he knew where I was going before I got there,'' Williams said. "He was reading my routes.''
Added Williams: "I took it personally at halftime. I was not about to let one person stop me. I came out aggressive.''
Georgia plays host to Auburn Saturday at 1 p.m.
Georgia's matchup zone defense helped to slow the scoring pace of Slay and force the 6-foot-8 senior to commit four turnovers.
"You have to give Georgia credit,'' Peterson said. "They hit big shots when they needed to. Ezra Williams had a hot hand tonight and he caused us to burn some timeouts in the second half.''
Outrebounded 23-18 in the first half, Georgia finished with a 41-40 edge on the boards despite having Chris Daniels foul out with 3:02 left in regulation. Williams led Georgia with eight rebounds.
Thanks' largely to Williams' hot hand, Georgia rallied from a deficit of 10 points at 46-36 five minutes into the second half and appeared to have the game won in regulation.
Georgia led 65-61 with less than a minute left in regulation, but both Rashad Wright and Damien Wilkins missed the front ends of one-and-one free throws before a 3-pointer by Higgins cut the lead to one point.
Williams made two free throws with 12 seconds left to push the advantage back to three points, but another Higgins 3-pointer with only two seconds left tied the game and forced overtime.
Georgia had only four team fouls when Tennessee brought the ball up the floor for its final possession of regulation, but the Bulldogs did not deliver on Harrick's instruction to foul the Vols on their way down the court.
Williams opened the five-minute overtime period with a basket, but Hayes then took over by scoring the next 10 points for the Bulldogs.
The decisive basket was a jumper by Wright with 9.9 seconds left in overtime. Wright scored eight points with seven assists and no turnovers.
"That helped me out because I could have sealed it (with a free throw at the end of regulation),'' Wright said. "It was great to get the opportunity again.''
The Bulldogs were outscored 10-2 in a three-minute stretch in the first half when Harrick was giving Wright a rest. As soon as Georgia took the floor without Wright, Tennessee switched to a full-court press, and that helped trigger the run that gave the Vols a 24-15 lead.
Georgia made only 5 of its first 23 shots (21.7 percent shooting) and shot only 24.2 percent for the half.