The Dawgs shot 56.3 percent from the field, 58.3 percent from 3 and handed out 17 assists - all season highs by a Vol foe. They threw down an assortment of thunderous dunks, outrebounded the Vols 35-24 and limited the Big Orange to a putrid 18.8 percent success rate (3 of 16) from beyond the arc.
"Georgia is a team that dominated us early on in the SEC season - on the backboards, as well as getting to us in transition with their post-up game," UT head coach Bruce Pearl conceded. "They had way too many dunks and balls at the rim. We'll have to guard them better and differently."
If the Vols guard the Dawgs at all that will be "differently" than last time. Tennessee's players were never in the game at Athens, mentally or competitively. Having beaten Georgia 10 times in a row, the Vols seemed to think they'd make it 11 just by showing up at Stegeman Coliseum. Clearly, that was not the case, as Georgia raced to a 42-27 halftime lead and coasted.
Georgia head man Mark Fox assisted LSU head man Trent Johnson at Nevada in the early 2000s, and the two have comparable philosophies. The strategy UT used to limit Johnson's LSU Tigers to 30.5 percent shooting earlier this year failed miserably against Fox's Bulldogs, however.
"Trent Johnson and Mark Fox coached together, so there are some similarities in their systems," Pearl noted. "While we did a great job of guarding LSU, we did a really poor job of guarding Georgia. We're going to have to find a way to blend those two scouts in order to come up with a more effective way of guarding Georgia than we did in Athens."
In addition to guarding Georgia better,Tennessee needs to attack Georgia better in tonight's rematch. Scotty Hopson hit 3 of 6 from 3 last time; the rest of the Vols were a combined 0 of 10 from behind the arc.
"Offensively, they played a lot of zone against us and we couldn't shoot 'em out of that zone," Pearl recalled. "I would anticipate they're going to stay with a lot of zone unless we're able to handle it better. We struggled against their zone. I didn't anticipate that we would struggle as much as we did but they did a good job with it."
Other teams have tried unsuccessfully to zone Tennessee this year. What made the Bulldogs' zone work so well?
"They've got great size on the inside and they play it well," Pearl said. "That would be their primary defense against us coming in. Unless we do a better job against it than we did down there, they'll stay in it."