"Most of it was Kentucky not being as good against the zone as they are against a man," Vol head coach Bruce Pearl said this week. "Most of it was that.
"It's a defense we used very effectively against Ole Miss. I haven't played it a lot but it's in the arsenal and it's something we go to, based on the opponent more than anything else."
The 3-2 befuddled Kentucky for 20 minutes, limiting the Big Blue to 35.7 percent shooting from the field and 22.2 percent shooting from 3 in the first half. The Vols lost their magic at intermission, however, and the Wildcats found their shooting strokes. UK shot 53.8 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3 after the break.
"The thing that concerned me was that we didn't communicate as well in the second half," Pearl said. "It also allowed them to do some driving from the top (of the key). You still have to guard your yard, you've still got to stunt on both sides of the ball against the zone. We got a little stationary ourselves. A lot of that's because we haven't played it a lot."
Here's another reason Tennessee may not use much 3-2 zone tonight: A zone encourages perimeter shots, and Georgia hit 58.3 percent (7 of 12) from 3-point range in beating the Vols 78-63 Jan. 23 in Athens.
The Dawgs are expected to go with the same lineup tonight at Thompson-Boling Arena that served them so well in the earlier game at Stegeman Coliseum. That would be Albert Jackson (6-11, 265) in the post, with Trey Thompkins (6-10, 247) at forward and a guard trio of Travis Leslie (6-4, 202), Ricky McPhee (6-1, 184) and Dustin Ware (5-11, 182).
Thompkins averages 17.2 points per game and Leslie 14.5. McPhee follows at 9.9, Ware at 8.3 and Jackson at 3.5. Jackson leads in rebounds at 6.9 per game and Ware leads in assists at 3.0 per contest.
Georgia carries an 11-12 overall record and a 3-7 SEC mark into tonight's 8 o'clock tipoff. No. 20 Tennessee brings an 18-6 overall record and a 6-4 SEC mark. The Vols also bring a two-game losing streak. They have lost three games in a row under Pearl only one time to date. That was in 2006-07, when they lost consecutive road squeakers at Vanderbilt (82-81) on Jan. 10, at Ohio State (68-66) on Jan. 13 and at Auburn (83-80) on Jan. 17.
NOTES: Tennessee has won 24 of its last 28 SEC home games. Georgia is 0-8 in true road games this year and has lost on its last eight visits to Thompson-Boling Arena.... Tonight's game will be televised by the SEC Network. Tennessee's only previous appearance on the SEC Network was Jan. 16 in Knoxville, when the Vols edged Ole Miss 71-69 in overtime.... Freshman Kenny Hall, a native of Stone Mountain, Ga., is listed as a probable starter for tonight's game ahead of sophomore Renaldo Woolridge. Hall made his first career start in the earlier meeting at Athens, scoring 10 points in 25 minutes.