Dawgs pose big problems for UT

Tennessee's task Wednesday night in Athens, Ga., is obvious. The Vols must slow down a Georgia basketball team that is ranked No. 19 in America and scores virtually at will.

The Bulldogs average 81.6 points per game. They shoot 47.9 percent from the floor, including a sizzling 42.7 percent from 3-point range. Tennessee, by comparison, averages 70.7 ppg, shoots 44.9 percent from the floor and 36.8 from 3-point land.

What makes Georgia such a high-scoring unit?

''Georgia's No. 1 in the country in assists. They're tremendous passers,'' Vol head man Buzz Peterson noted. ''Their wing players (Jarvis Hayes and Ezra Williams) are both in the 6-4, 6-5, 6-6 area and weigh around 230. They've got good size and bulk, so that causes some problems.''

The Bulldogs have tremendous balance offensively, as well. Hayes leads the scoring at 18.2 ppg but Williams is close behind at 17.1. Chris Daniels (10.6) also averages double-figure scoring, while Steve Thomas (9.9) and Rashad Wright (8.4) aren't far from it.

So how can Tennessee slow down such a high-octane attack?

''We'll throw different defenses at 'em, try to keep them off-pace that way,'' Peterson said. ''You can't let them get comfortable. In order to get them out of that comfort zone, you've got to change defenses on them.''

With no starters taller than 6-8, Georgia loves to run the fastbreak and score before the opposing defense has time to dig in. Preventing this is a key for Tennessee.

''We need to be careful of their transition game because those two wings can come down and, boom, hit a shot on the run,'' Peterson said. ''We've got to defend against that.''

Ultimately, Tennessee's offense will play as big a role in controlling Georgia's point total as Tennessee's defense does.

''If we can control the things we do on offense -- keep our turnovers down, get the shots we want, score and keep the score down in the 60s -- we've got a chance,'' Peterson said. ''But we can't do like we did at Florida -- take quick shots and let the game get into the 70s.''

Although none of Georgia's 2002 signees managed to enroll, the lack of depth hasn't kept the Dawgs from winning 10 of their first 14 games, including a 2-1 start in SEC action.

''They're not real deep, with what happened to their recruiting class,'' Peterson said. ''But they have a good, solid seven or eight players who can shoot it, pass it and defend you.''

As if the challenge isn't daunting enough, the Vol boss noted one more factor weighing heavily in favor of the Bulldogs.

''They're undefeated at home, also,'' he said.


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