Another road trip, another road loss for Tennessee as Rick Barnes' squad still continues its monumental struggles away from Knoxville. The Vols fell, 81-72, despite leading by seven at halftime and controlling the game until the Bulldogs reeled off an 25-6 run in the second half to take a lead they would carry into the final buzzer. It was an ugly, sloppy affair for most of the night until Georgia's J.J. Frazier and Kenny Gaines went scorching hot from behind the arc, combining to hit 10-of-15 3-pointers to bury Tennessee. The Bulldogs entered the game as the worst 3-point shooting team in the country, averaging just six a contest before Wednesday's outburst.
Let's take a look at some of the trends and highlights that ultimately led to Tennessee's seventh road loss of the season:
1. Taking advantage of turnovers
This is something Tennessee simply failed to do and it became the team's undoing in the end. Georgia turned the ball over 20 times, yet the Vols still found a way to lose behind a combinatino of poor shooting down the stretch and UGA's hot stroke late. Rick Barnes' team did score 20 points off the turnovers, but combine that with 13 turnovers for the Vols as well and a first half stretch where neither team scored in nearly five minutes despite Georgia essentially throwing the ball away almost every possession, and Tennessee couldn't capitalize. Sixteen of those 20 UGA turnovers were in the first half. That's when the Vols have to step on the throat and put the game away early.
2. Unlikely fireworks
Who would have thought the worst 3-point shooting team in the SEC would put on a performance behind the arc like UGA did Wednesday? It was almost like the Bulldogs were playing NBA Jam and on fire for most of the second half. Georgia ended the game shooting 63 percent from 3-point range to give most of Frazier and Gaines their points (28 and 23, respectively). The Vols really couldn't defend the perimeter and sometimes could only watch as the fireworks dropped in their faces.
3. Paging Robert Hubbs
Just two days after being publicly called out by Rick Barnes, Robert Hubbs proved him right. The junior was essentially a non-factor in this one, finishing with nine points (five of which came from the free throw line) and six rebounds while failing to showcase the physicality or aggression Barnes so adamantly tried to pull from his talented wing. It was undoubtedly not the type of response Barnes wanted to see in a pivotal road SEC matchup.
4. Paint by numbers
Tennessee shockingly dominated down low against a much bigger team (who isn't bigger than Tennessee, though) in the losing effort, oustcoring Georgia 24-18 and virtually closing out all inside opportunities for Mark Fox's team in the first half with a successful matchup zone. The Bulldogs seemed to settle down after the break and began establishing themselves down low to help pull away during the 18-6 run and late in the game to ice things, but Tennessee once again held its own in the paint. The size disadvantage showed itself by other ways, and emphatically. Georgia outrebounded the Vols 43-28 and ended the game with five blocks
5. Bad JuJu
The road has not been kind to Tennessee this season, and it's almost time to start asking if it's mental. The Vols haven't won a game away from Thompson-Boling Arena all season and things won't get any easier when they travel to Starkville to take on an improved Mississippi State on Saturday. Every player who's spoken to the media this year notices the difference in play at home and on the road, mostly attributing it to being more zoned in at home with the crowd behind them and the comfortablity of a gym they're used to playing in. This trend is startling and beginning to get worrisome, though, and the Vols are going to have to nip it in the bud with a victory soon before the narrative starts to creep in their minds — if it hasn't already.