By intermission Georgia had almost as many turnovers (17) as shot attempts (18), along with a 40-23 deficit to overcome. The Bulldogs couldn't, eventually losing 79-48.
"This is a team you need to extend on, you need to press up on (defensively)," UT coach Bruce Pearl said on his post-game show. "I thought we did a pretty good with that."
Ultimately, Tennessee's performance was almost as good as Georgia's was bad. The Vols outshot the Dawgs 46.4 percent to 36.0 percent and outrebounded them 39-35. Tennessee also forced 25 turnovers, while committing just 9.
"We did a lot of good things," Pearl said. "We shared the ball ... to have 32 baskets, 25 assists and only nine turnovers. We rebounded the ball well (limiting Georgia to nine offensive rebounds) and we only went to the line 11 times but we made nine."
After firing nearly 50 percent of their shots from beyond the 3-point arc in last Saturday's loss at Auburn, the Vols took 49 shots from 2 and only 20 from 3 against Georgia.
Bottom line: Tennessee did what it was supposed to do. It showed enough focus to put an inferior opponent away early – no simple task considering the Dawgs were riding a 10-game losing streak coming in.
"Obviously, we took this Georgia basketball team seriously," Pearl said. "Sometimes human nature is at work: You're playing a team that hasn't won in the SEC and you've already beat 'em on their home floor, and you think you can just show up (and win). Obviously, we did not play that way tonight. We played with pretty good energy."
Tennessee, now 15-8 overall, finds itself in a four-way tie with Florida, Kentucky and South Carolina at 6-3 in the SEC East. Georgia, now 9-15 overall, stands 0-9 in conference action after suffering its 11th loss in a row.
Tyler Smith led the Vols with 15 points. Wayne Chism chipped in 13, Scotty Hopson 12 and J.P. Prince 11. Prince, who had zero rebounds in Saturday's loss at Auburn, contributed 9 rebounds Wednesday night. Brian Williams came off the bench to register 10 points in just 13 minutes.
Trey Thompkins scored 10 points to pace Georgia.
Ryan Childress, the Vols' lone senior, saw his first action of the season after recovering from a dislocated kneecap. He played the game's final 2:29 and scored two points from the foul line.
Tennessee returns to action Saturday at 3, hosting Vanderbilt.